BIM – Building Information Modelling – has been around since the 1970s. It languished through the 1980s and 1990s until it was popularised by Autodesk in the early 2000s.

Fast forward to 2018 when the May 2018 issue of CIBSE Journal included a supplement about building information modelling (BIM) that showed how the building industry was dealing with the complexities and frameworks brought about by its advent. Somewhere in that journey there was excitement. Not any more!

In July 2020, RICS releases ‘The future of BIM: Digital transformation in the UK construction and infrastructure sector’. BIM, it seems, is cool again!

Not much appears to have happened in the intervening two years to warrant a change of heart. BIM adoption in the private sector appears to have stalled. This happened somewhere around 2016 with the failure of the UK government’s carrot and stick approach to make BIM Level 2 a requirement on all public sector jobs.

The RICS’s paper written by colleagues form Liverpool John Moores University – you got to love academics writing for practitioners – indicated that the BIM level 3 terminology was no longer fit for purpose. Maybe then BIM died a tragic death years ago. A useful nugget in this paper, accelerating the BIM demise, is that new professionals, coming through accredited courses are being trained under out of date competencies because of stalled reviews of courses and competencies in higher and further education. Bring on the education revolution please!

What it comes down to, in the post COVID recovery, revolutions, response, .. call it what you want, is that naval gazing about BIM will not necessarily accelerate the green growth agenda. BIM adoption or lack of it will not impact on designing resilient and inclusive environments or assist in scaling up affordable and resilient solutions to accelerate the transition to green.

BIM is too rigid a concept. I am heartened by what a colleague at Hoare Lea’s Andrew Krebs wrote for the CIBSE Journal in 2018: ‘Since when has strict adherence to byzantine doctrine been the answer to a dynamic and changing marketplace?’

Where BIM fails is that it focuses on a building’s design and construction. In all fairness, this is what it was set up for: collaboration and visualization during design and construction. It was and is not set up for operations and maintenance. It is not designed for real-time operational response in buildings and infrastructure. It is not designed for crisis and risk management, or resilience. It also focuses on buildings, not people.

A Digital Twin models how people interact with built environments. This interaction is hugely important. It is critical in the COVID recovery in our relationship as buildings users with our shops, our transport system, our offices and our schools and work places. This is why the Digital Twin will and must supersede BIM, even at the design and build phase of an asset’s lifecycle.

This is why now is the right time to Kill BIM. The plot thickens in vol. 2!