Digitalisation primarily involves Building Information Modelling (BIM), which is a digital representation of a building in 3D, 4D or even 5D. Such models allow immediate changes to walls or materials. Why is this relevant and how does this change the construction process? For instance, because BIM allows for clash control. The European Architectural Barometer Q4 2019 shows the development of BIM adoption on European level in the last decade.
BIM adoption on European level
Because we measured BIM familiarity and usage every two years, the European Architectural Barometer Q4 2019 provides an overview of the last ten years. Most noticeable is a substantial increase in BIM familiarity among European architects. This has increased from 31% in 2009 to 89% in 2019, which means that almost 90% of all European architects know BIM. Looking at the actual usage of BIM, we notice a gradual increase. In ten years BIM usage increased from 10% to 38%.
Key drivers for BIM usage
So we clearly see a growth in both BIM familiarity and usage. But what are the key drivers for European architects to use BIM? Firstly, BIM reduces failure costs by clash control. Secondly, next to architects, other parties in the construction process, like general builders, subcontractors and principals, are able to join in at the design phase earlier. They can inspect the model and are able to immediately improve it before the construction phase starts.
Furthermore, we see a very strong correlation with government regulations. For example, the French government introduced the regulation that BIM should be used for all public projects. Last but not least, we see an increase of prefab and more complicated buildings. Therefore, having a digital model makes a lot of sense because it makes it easier to notice design flaws.
Highest BIM use in the Netherlands
Zooming in on BIM usage per country, the European Architectural Barometer Q4 2019 shows that Dutch architects are far ahead of their European peers. The highest percentage of BIM usage is above 80% in the Netherlands. We also see relatively high percentages for the UK, Belgium, France and Spain. In Poland, Italy and Germany, we find the lowest percentages of BIM usage.
BIM: a license to operate
Looking at the way BIM is developing and the amount of new regulations in various countries which are promoting BIM use, it becomes clear that BIM is here to stay. In some European countries BIM usage will definitely increase in the next few years. In other countries, like the Netherlands, BIM is already a license to operate.