We are completing our analysis of the application of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in Europe, according to the EU BIM Observatory by looking at the situation in the Nordic countries. Finland, Sweden and Norway are leaders in the use of digital technologies in construction. Let us take a closer look.
Finland: pioneers in the use of BIM
Finland is an example to follow in the digital construction industry. Although it does not have an official national strategy as such, it has implemented digital and intraoperative processes with the utmost efficiency.
For years now, industry and the research community have shared a long-term view of the importance of BIM in construction. The first programme (VERA 1997-2002), which involved most of the key stakeholders, was implemented in 1996. The Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries included BIM in its core technology strategy in 2002, and following a series of pilot projects, the use of BIM was consolidated as mandatory for government buildings in 2007.
BIM methodology is applied in all major projects and in some of the simpler ones. This context has also permitted the development of a major number of advanced BIM software applications.
In 2016, the Finnish government embarked upon a new KIRA-digi programme, which seeks to digitise the construction sector, where BIM is only one part of a broader outlook.
One outstanding project being developed by means of BIM is Tripla, the result of a collaboration effort between national and international planners and experts. The client is the YIT building company, which from the outset laid down the condition that the designers were to use the buildingSMART Finland level 3 requirements. All project files are stored in the cloud, which is where all information sharing takes place. More than 100 designers from different disciplines work on a collaboration basis, not to mention a further 200 professionals comprising personnel from YIT and from organisations in the city of Helsinki and the state.
The West Metro project is the most important infrastructure undertaking in the country. The objective is to extend the underground network from Helsinki to Espoo. A total of 13 stations will be built in the course of the two phases, covering a distance of 21 km in two parallel tunnels that must drill through 40,500 m³ of very hard rock. Preconstruction by means of BIM helped to ensure that the project was feasible.
Although Finland has no national group working actively to support the implementation of BIM in the educational system, this methodology is a regular part of technical education, at both higher secondary and university level. There are different groups of students conducting research into BIM.
Sweden: an example of public-private collaboration
Featuring highly-complex infrastructures and large-scale buildings, the Swedish model is similar to Finland’s. It lacks a clear strategic leader, but it does enjoy a very strong public-private link and a cluster of advanced companies that work together in harmony with the administrations to develop the roadmap followed by the building trade.
In Sweden, the different governmental departments develop their own BIM strategies. For example, BIM has been obligatory in the strategy implemented by the Swedish Roads Administration since 2017.
The most significant projects include the New Karolinska Solna Hospital and the Stockholm E4 Ring Road.
The former is regarded as the most important public-private collaboration effort in the world, with an investment totalling 3,000 Million euros. In view of the sheer size of the project, its complexity and tight schedule, an advanced BIM model that straddles its entire life cycle was applied. A digital platform was created so that all the stakeholders involved could cooperate.
Beginning with the input of the design specifications and performance requirements, the architects and designers created the designs in 3D; each object was digitised and stored in the model with its key attributes and exact location. When completed, the full list will contain around one million entries.
This project has demonstrated how the BIM model and prefabrication can increase speed, quality and implementation and has certified its leadership role in sustainability.
The E4 is a gigantic infrastructure of tunnels conceived to free the centre of Stockholm from traffic. It is one of the most important city development projects in the history of the Swedish capital. It began in 2001 and is scheduled to be opened in 2026. Once the tunnels are operational, they will absorb a volume of traffic amounting to some 140,000 vehicles a day.
In the field of education, the Swedish BIM Alliance has a special group called the BIM Academy, which provides support to the available teaching courses and programmes.
Norway: leading the way in the transformation of the building industry
Norway is one of the world’s leaders in the transformation of the building industry. Statsbygg, the National Directorate of Public Construction and Property, published the first strategic guide on the use of BIM in 2009 and it has been mandatory for all projects since 2010.
The Statsbygg Building Information Modelling Manual (SBM) describes the BIM requirements, both general and discipline-specific, in the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) open format. These requirements may be completed or modified during operational projects.
The main SBM users are design teams, project clients and facility managers, as well as professionals involved in BIM processes. The manual is also used as a guideline for software application vendors. The aim is for the supplementary inputs to be added at the end in the form of numbered amendments.
The E39 highway is a 42,000-million euro megaproject, the first one without any printed drawings. It will have an extension of 1,100 km, crossing 50 municipalities along a route that currently covers 1,330 km between Trondheim and Kristiansand, a journey that now takes 21 hours and includes seven ferry connections. The orographic difficulties, traversing the Norwegian fjords, constitute a massive challenge to the new project, which includes the world’s longest underwater tunnel, 26 km long and reaching a depth of almost 400 m under the seabed between the islands of Rennesøy and Vestre Bokn. The Norwegian government intends to complete the project by 2035.
Another major BIM building project is the Mjøstårnet building, by Voll Arkitekter, the highest wooden building in the world. It is located in Brumunddal and is 85.4 metres high. It was built with cross-laminated timber, a ground-breaking and sustainable material which reduces the carbon footprint of the structure (with offices, apartments and an indoor swimming pool) by 30% as opposed to conventional concrete.
Since January 2014, all the information generated by architects, engineers, contractors, etc., in their domain model must be exportable to open BIM and must also be stored in an updated version of IFC.
In the field of education, BIM is part of the secondary and university education systems.
The European BIM Summit is possible thanks to the contribution of our sponsors: Roca, as Main sponsor; Finalcad, as Gold sponsor; Agència Catalana de l’Aigua, ATL, Bentley, CIAT, FGC, Knauf Industries, MUSAAT, PREMAAT, Graphisoft Archicad and SIMBIM Solutions, as Silver sponsors; Calaf Constructora, Copisa, and Fundación Laboral de la Construcción, as Pro sponsors; and BASF, as Sustainability sponsor. It has also the support and the collaboration of the Departament de Territori i Sostenibilitat of the Generalitat de Catalunya.