US visit confirms North East BIM leadership

Region leading the way on technology, says Johnathan Munkley of Niven

Niven Architects BIM manager Johnathan Munkley
Niven Architects BIM manager Johnathan Munkley

North East architects have reaffirmed their position as leaders in the field after attending a US technology conference that attracted more than 10,000 experts from around the world.

Niven’s Building Information Modelling manager Johnathan Munkley recently took part in a four day Autodesk event at The Venetian in Las Vegas, expecting to be amazed by the latest developments in design technology.

“But I was really surprised that there was very little being discussed that we are not already doing,” said Munkley, of Billingham.

“I expected to hear things that were mind-boggling in terms of what other firms were doing.

“But instead it simply reaffirmed how far ahead we are in the game and that we have the infrastructure in place to press ahead with BIM.”

Niven Architects, which is based in Darlington, has been working with Teesside University’s Knowledge Transfer Programme on new practices that are redefining the profession.

Building Information Modelling uses state-of-the-art computer software to provide a single set of three dimensional plans for building schemes of all sizes.

In the construction industry, it is pioneering in its approach to design.

The system offers one electronic point of reference containing vital information for the many contractors working on a scheme, ranging from wall sockets to wiring ducts, drainage, materials and dimensions.

The BIM model sits in the ‘cloud’ and is accessible via the internet, replacing conventional plans and computer aided design.

As the model contains all relevant details on the scheme in question, it also allows for more accurate costs, helps with ordering materials and results in less waste.

Niven Architects have already been rewarded for their efforts after winning global acclaim for their vision.

On the same day as the practice celebrated success in an international technological challenge they also gained major exposure at a global conference in London looking at the future of building design and delivery.

Munkley added that a more valuable aspect of the conference had been the chance to network with the likes of the chief engineer of the £12bn Shanghai Tower, currently being constructed in China, and the BIM manager of leading global construction company Skanska.

He was also particularly excited about the development of sustainable design solutions which used BIM to accurately predict the running costs of a building for the next decade and allowed clients to make huge savings.

“I believe we have now overtaken the US in the development and implementation of BIM, helped by the Government’s mandate,” he said.

“Next year I would like to present at the conference, confident that we are in the vanguard of technological development globally.”

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