Across Arup, digital collaboration is redefining the possible in performance and design.
Virtual design tools such as 3D modelling and simulation are becoming increasingly sophisticated and integrated. We believe their potential is best realised when they feed into an advanced design process that brings to life the interactions between designers and between each design element.
This process, known as building information modelling (BIM), is transforming the way that we design cities, buildings and systems to perform throughout their entire life cycle.
An intelligent model
BIM can be thought of as a virtual prototype – whether of a building, a site, an infrastructure system or a city. It allows any aspect of a design’s performance to be simulated and assessed before it is built – helping us to understand the design more completely and much earlier.
That virtual prototype becomes a reference for better construction. And it continues to evolve, even after it passes to the asset’s owners and operators. BIM achieves all this because it is not simply a 3D animation: it is an intelligent project model in which information is embedded so it can be shared between stakeholders throughout the whole process.
That information – from materials to wind forces or even water pressure in plumbing systems – helps the project team understand the implications of their choices, constraints and opportunities. An intelligent model brings greater precision to project feasibility, cost and schedules – becoming a 4D model when factors of programme and time are added in, and 5D with quantity and cost. It also helps us make considerable gains in the sustainability of construction and operation.
By advancing BIM with exceptional rigour at Arup, we are closer than ever to realising the ‘total design’ of systems and structures.
“The term ‘Total Architecture’ implies that all relevant design decisions have been considered together and have been integrated into a whole by a well organised team empowered to fix priorities.” – Ove Arup, Founder, Arup, 1970
Shared knowledge, expanded possibilities
We build on Arup’s long history of integrated working to shape BIM as a positive collaborative method. At its best, this method allows information to flow freely – between architects, engineers, technical specialists, owners and operators – to promote productive, open working relationships.
Using modelling for more joined-up working is helping our teams worldwide to reduce design conflicts, to produce more efficient designs and to fast-track schedules, to optimise layouts, even in tight spaces and to align efforts to achieve greater energy-efficiency.
In many cases, Arup’s approach to modelling has fulfilled highly original and ambitious visions. Without it, the distinctive and resource-efficient façade of the Beijing National Aquatics Center (Water Cube) would not have been possible.
Likewise, without BIM we could never have introduced naturally ventilated broadcasting studios to the headquarters of BSkyB, Harlequin 1 or designed the world's first LEED platimum data centre for Citi in Frankfurt.