Yes and no. The principal of BIM – referring to an approach beyond the software – is great. It demands openness of communication, transparency of data, exchange of models, which hopefully gives an opportunity to complete projects on time and within an agreed budget etc. However, in reality BIM is often used mainly for clash detection and checking if everything comes together and less for enhancing collaborations, at least at the moment. So we need to do better than that.
How much time does it take to develop an innovative solution?
In general, it takes 5 to 10 years for a unique insight to mature to the level that it can be used in a real application. For example, the development of our compression-only floor system started in 2010, which sounds like many years ago. It began with an idea based on historical vaulted floor systems followed by a physical prototype. It allowed us to demonstrate that it works structurally – an important first success! Then we continued thinking how it could be produced economically in practice. Along the way, we also needed to address thermal and acoustic performance, etc. During the development of our floor system, experts in the field of building systems led by my colleague Prof. Dr. Arno Schlüter realised that there is also a way to incorporate a heating and cooling system into the structure – something we didn't think about before. And just recently, thanks to new innovations in digital fabrication, we found a way to generate these bespoke geometries nearly waste-free. So innovation development is all about questioning the given. Our research remains an academic exercise until we solve how to scale it up, how to produce it, build it economically and address all remaining questions in order to reduce the risks for acceptance by the industry partners at the end.
What is the role of the digitalisation in your research?