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Building information modelling (BIM)


Building information modelling (BIM)

The way we use virtual design tools is dramatically changing how we help our clients design cities, buildings and systems

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 consulting 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 BIM Maturity Measure model

The Arup BIM Maturity Measure is a simple tool to assess the maturity of BIM implementation within projects.  It draws on work by Penn State University under the Creative Commons 3.0 licence. Through use of the BIM Maturity Measure we are able to assess and adopt a common view of what is BIM best practice and the depth of its diffusion across our Regions and Groups. It is a discipline-agnostic tool that seeks to measure just how much a project has used BIM and how successful this has been. We are making the BIM Maturity Measure available for wider industry use in order to demystify BIM, reduce ‘BIMwash’ and help raise capability across our industry.

It was launched on 2nd December 2014 at AutoDesk University 2014 and is available here to download along with the presentation shown at the event. If you need information regarding the BIM Maturity Model, please email

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.