Posts tagged with "United Kingdom":
During my days as a technology vendor, I chafed at the idea of introducing government standards for technology developed by a polyglot group of stakeholders. Users, software companies, and bureaucrats often sought a “lowest common denominator” between various software, sacrificing innovation and progress for vague notions like “open access.” In the early days of Building Information Modeling (BIM), several such efforts emerged, the most prominent of which were the General Services Administration (GSA) attempts to create a standard and the development of BIM-derived digital permitting submissions in Singapore. Both projects garnered much attention but gained little traction in the form of implemented technologies or operating protocols—at least in their early forms. But they had one important effect: In the loosely organized, disparate network of the building industry supply chain, government could provide a galvanizing influence. At least when government spoke, the industry listened.
In 2011, however, we witnessed a welcome change with the publication of the United Kingdom’s “Government Construction Strategy.” Much of the early theory about industry productivity and need for process integration had long emerged from that side of the Atlantic—for example, Sir Roger Egan’s seminal “Rethinking Construction” report—but there was little action. The David Cameron government, however, saw construction as a critical economic engine, concluding that improving the cost and carbon impacts of building while bolstering U.K. capabilities as a global building leader would drive growth. One pillar of the resulting government policy document was BIM, and the following requirement: “2.32. Government will require fully collaborative 3-D BIM (with all project and asset information, documentation, and data being electronic) as a minimum by 2016. A staged plan will be published with mandated milestones showing measurable progress at the end of each year.”
As upwards of 40 percent of construction dollars in the U.K. are spent by the government, the industry snapped to attention, formed cross-industry collaborations, and established and implemented BIM requirements for all their projects (with logistical and financial support from the government). BIM adoption shot up from 10 percent in 2012 to 70 percent by 2018, and savings on the first prototype projects were estimated at as much as 2.5 percent of the total lifetime cost of designing, building, and operating the project. By my own estimate, that’s as much as five times the fees likely paid to the design team and 25 percent of original construction cost. Not bad for a first effort. And, in typical British fashion, the resulting standards (search online for “PAS 1192”) were clear, rigorous, and implementable.
The success of the U.K. effort has spread across Europe, and EU government leaders have taken similar roles (at least until Brexit) in developing standards for the entire European Union, while also establishing footholds with other global networks, most notably in Latin America and Southeast Asia. Singapore, in collaboration with the U.K. team, has spurred a multiyear effort to create a standards collaboration there. As we approach the end of the second decade of BIM, one can see the slow emergence of a global network of BIM standards leading to a single market BIM, catalyzed by what may be the only cohering force in the building universe: the long arm of the law.
Now that the technology is mature and its use stable, global BIM standards are a good thing. The U.K. effort rightly became the basis of a worldwide standard created by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO; see ISO Standard 19650) and released in early 2019. Based on the now viral PAS 1192, ISO describes its work as “recommended concepts and principles for business processes across the built environment sector in support of the management and production of information during the life cycle of built assets (referred to as 'information management’) when using building information modelling (BIM).” Note the emphasis on business process driving the technology standard; precisely the right relationship for creating a stable platform for the otherwise disparate players in the global building industry.
And there’s an even larger idea here. What’s most powerful about the U.K.’s trailblazing work on BIM standards is the origin point: Rather than start with the prosaic, bottom-up question of lowest common denominator tech standards, they chose a broad organizing principle—improving building through technology is good for the economy and the environment, and doing this in a way that is agnostic to specific technologies or proprietary software drives competitive innovation that helps the entire market.
Driving BIM standards has further benefits to government, not the least of which is transactional transparency. State-run construction is rife with overbidding, conflicts of interest, and corruption. A bedrock principle of “collaborative 3-D BIM” is information clarity—all members of the building team can see and understand the physical and technical characteristics of the project in parametric three dimensions, along with the resulting arithmetic of cost projection—which makes it that much harder to manipulate a bid.
In the early days of the U.K. project there was an appointed Chief Government Construction Advisor with a direct line to high-level policy makers in the Cabinet. The United States’ construction market, roughly five times the size of the U.K.’s, could surely benefit from some policy-driven federal leadership, something that is certainly hard to imagine in today’s administration and go-go economy. But when the inevitable downturn does occur, we’ll know which way to look for inspiration for industry improvement.
It had to be the right one, with the right set of circumstances. It’s often the case that the idea is there, in sketch form in my mind, waiting to be fully realized. It can take years for those ideas to find a home, and there are hundreds more still waiting. In this case, the site was originally a tannery and wool processing factory so there is a historical association with textiles. I like the fact that the building is so archetypal. I had school lessons in a building just like it and that sense of familiarity is one of the things that I like to subvert. I think we’ve all got a relationship with a building like this, somewhere in our past, so that imbues the work with personal meaning. Its position, right by the road, close to the post office, the council offices, the probation center and the leisure center means that people of all ages and from all walks of life will see it.
According to the artist, Open to the Public will remain 'open' until the end of August, "at least."
On April 19, for the afternoon keynote of The Architect’s Newspaper’s Facades+ conference in New York, architect Ian Ritchie discussed his decades-long involvement in forward-looking glass architecture. Beginning with the tongue-in-cheek statement, “Glass is the answer; what was the question?” the British architect detailed the technological specifications and design considerations behind his projects. Ranging in size from personal residences to convention centers, the projects convey his expertise with manufactured materials.
As head of his own practice, Ian Ritchie Architects, Ritchie’s process is influenced by a range of fields, from neuroscience to poetry.
Ritchie began with one of his earliest projects, the self-constructed Fluy House (1976). Composed of a prefabricated set of materials, including a lightweight steel frame and pre-cast concrete floor slabs, Ritchie described his early curtain wall as “glass acting as a windbreaker,” a thin protective barrier between shelter and the site’s surrounding countryside.
Ritchie also described projects he worked on as a founding partner of the engineering firm, RFR Engineers. For example, he talked about unique projects such as engineering I.M Pei’s Louvre Pyramids, which entailed the creation of a full-scale Kevlar mockup and the use of "phantom fixing” to insure the transparency of the glass structure’s final design.
Next, in talking about the design of Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art’s circulation towers and the Messe-Leipzig Glass Hall, Ritchie described how unique engineering devices such as externally suspended and grid-worked glass panels bring the tectonics of design and engineering into public view while creating open and accessible spaces.
In line with his firm’s straightforward forms, Ritchie was critical of the contemporary trend of hyper-engineered glass facades with multiple curves and contortions, asking, "Is architecture intelligence or indulgence?" Instead, he emphasized the natural, biological forms that influence his creative process and, ultimately, his firm’s output.
Ritchie’s drive to bridge the highly technical, manufactured character of glass with natural objects and processes was also highlighted by his presentation of the firm’s recently completed, 150,000-square-foot Sainsbury Wellcome Center.
Located in London’s Fitzrovia, a central city district surrounded by architectural conservation areas predominantly comprised of Georgian architecture, Ritchie saw the Sainsbury Wellcome Center as a “melting ice block spilling into the surrounding neighborhood." To fulfill this analogy, the firm opted for translucent cast glass with vertical, corduroy-like detailing that imitated the stone rustication and brick-and-mortar facades of the surrounding area.
Ritchie concluded with a call for architects to recognize that current glass design and architecture may be surpassing contemporary engineering capabilities. In his view, too many architects are acting as sculptors, an approach that will fail to “make glass warm and haptically friendly” to the public.