BIM as usual: A brave new world!


John Eynon imagines the data-driven built environment of tomorrow, where BIM and digital have become business as usual

While industry continues to grapple with implementing BIM Level 2, some lead, others are thinking about following. Others still don’t care – but they soon will!

There will come a time, perhaps within a decade, when Level 2 will be far behind us. We won’t even talk about it. Even digital will have become passé. There will be some “new” thing by then and “BIM”, “digital” will just be business as usual, the way we work, as simple as breathing.

I offer you three vignettes of a future, an industry powered by data and technology.

  1. You are a client. You need a building of some kind. You go to a showroom on Oxford Street in London. At first glance, you might think it’s a car showroom, but there are no cars to be seen – just a few desks, some massive screens and a few projectors. You sit down with Karen, your visualizer for the day, and you go to work. You discuss your ambitions for your project together with your needs, ideas, timescales and budgets.

Working through libraries of projects, design, data and exemplars, Karen builds a project model for you. The site data is imported from the urban GIS BIM. You build your project virtually. Using benchmarked industry data, you compile your project in line with your budget, desired timescale and level of specification and operational performance.

You put on the headset and have an immersive walkthrough together of the finished project. You can see the colours, the quality, smell the coffee, even. Having thoroughly reviewed it, you sign the model off.

Karen immediately submits the model online to the Urban BIM authority. You get planning and Building Regulations clearance within 20 minutes. Together you check availability of a tech team and manufacturing lines.

Factory slots are booked. A site prep team is booked in for a few weeks’ time, with the superstructure and elements beginning delivery and assembly over the next six weeks. Programme, price and quality are set.

You leave the showroom, knowing that your project will be delivered to your requirements…and now for that pair of shoes.

  1. Arvinda Khan is a construction manager responsible for the £10bn refurbishment of the Houses of Parliament/Westminster Palace.

She has a busy diary. Today she has updated the parliamentary committee responsible for the project, reviewed design progress and significant coordination issues with the design team, vetted the procurement strategy with her commercial team and checked the offsite manufacture, progress and quality of the new office and core pods with the specialist supplier in China.

Today is also one of the days in the week when she works from home, to look after her children while her partner is in New York on a business trip. With access to the dashboards and data that Arvinda needs, she maximises her time using virtual meeting tools and drives her team and the project forward. Her team of design, procurement and construction specialists are based around the world, collaborating efficiently in a totally digital and accessible networked environment, effortlessly, efficiently and focused.

  1. Imagine a world where the number of people on site is reduced by 75%. No surveyors, no design managers, coordinators, BIM managers, information controllers and administrators. The only people on site are the ones who actually build the project – technologists/engineers.

Imagine a world where all the design and package procurement has been completed before we start on site. Where all the options have been explored before we make or install, where all the costs have been agreed before we create. Where no changes occur when we’re on the assembly and construction stages.

Everyone in the team is working to their strengths at each stage. Designers design. Builders build. Cost and project managers manage. And owners can monitor the performance, energy consumption, resource use, and maintenance progress in real-time using their asset data platforms, down to the second.

We know we need to work differently, better even. The data-driven digital built environment is coming. A change would do us good! It’s only a matter of time.


John Eynon is a journeyman architect and design manager, BIM champ, writer, lecturer and speaker. You can catch up with him at

John is director of Open Water Consulting, providing design management, BIM and work-winning services.

He is chair of Class of Your Own –

He is engagement lead for the UK BIM Alliance –



John Eynon


Open Water Consulting

Tel: +44 (0)7702 956 965

Twitter: @56JONTS


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