Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Specifying manufacturer products

The free-to-download sample NBS specifications have been updated on our website to include manufacturer information:

For each discipline there is now has an example where the performance of the system  has been specified to inform contractor's design and also an example where a system has been fully specified including a selection of manufacturer products.

The screenshots below show how this works in the NBS software using the 'NBS Plus' manufacturer library and also the final output.

For each product clause in NBS the manufacturer selection may be either left to Contractor's Selection or a specific manufacturer and product reference may be specified.

In the Landscape example, the manufacturer Charcon is selected
Once a manufacturer product is specified, the specification options for that particular product are provided within the software. Accompanying guidance is provided in the NBS Plus window to the right.
In the Services example, specification choices are made from the Schneider Electric catalogue
At any time, a report of all manufacturer selections may be generated. This can be generated within the software or published to PDF.
Within NBS Create there is a report of every manufacturer product specified
The specification information is very well structured and can be exported digitally. However, on most projects, a well-presented PDF or print out in the company brand is typically needed.
Example 'print out' from the Structures example

The case study from the NBS Old Post Office Building is a good example of NBS Plus in action on a real project:
Real-life 'NBS Plus' content used in the specification for the NBS Old Post Office Building 

Download the sample NBS specifications to learn more about the different methods of specifying depending on design responsibility:

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Photo to 3D

There is technology being used currently the construction industry to take a set of arial 2D photographs and turn this into a 3D model.

On a similar subject, a colleague at NBS pointed me at the following website which constructs a 3D face from a 2D photograph.


It's pretty clever stuff - and easy to play around with for free if you have a spare two minutes.

Select a pre-loaded example - or upload a face of your own

Not just a 2D face

...but spin it around and it's an OBJ file created with intelligence about the depth of face features
A little creepy, but give it a try...

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Watch the presentations from Autodesk University London

One things Autodesk University do extremely well is post videos of the classes online for the wider global community to benefit from.

It's really nice to see the two classes I was involved with at AU London are now online.

If you are interested in them, please click below to watch...

Introducing Autodesk Forge and its role in BIM workflows: A success story with NBS
Learn about what the Autodesk Forge platform is capable of and how you can benefit from it. In this session Brian Roepke will introduce some of the features within Forge and explain how this powerful, cloud-based software platform can be the build block for your next tool or product. Dr Stephen Hamil will then demonstrate how NBS have utilized the power of Forge to allow coordinated models and specifications to be viewed through the web browser. Live demonstrations of practical customer examples will also be shown from UK architecture and engineering BIM projects.
- http://au.autodesk.com/au-online/classes-on-demand/class-catalog/classes/year-2017/forge/lo-aec36#chapter=0
Class 1 - Presenting cloud opportunities with Autodesk and BDP
Practical examples of how to develop and coordinate information on a BIM project
This class will present how project teams can collaborate to develop information on a BIM project. We will initially look at setting up a plan of work to give clarity on which team members are delivering what information and when. Following this we will look at how designers can develop their designs using standardised BIM objects in Revit. Practical examples will then be given on how to link these objects digitally to the associated specification to better coordinate this information and reduce risk. We will finish by exploring the role of the cloud and big data in future workflows and show practical examples of how the Forge platform can accelerate this. Stephen was part of the team that developed the UK government’s BIM Level 2 standards and tools. As director of research and innovation at NBS, he has been fundamental in developing the products that led to NBS being the first UK Autodesk Solution Associate in 2016.
Class 2 - looking at the BIM workflow
To browse all of the AU Online content click below:

Friday, 14 July 2017

Sample specifications from NBS

When writing a specification it can be a little daunting seeing a blank screen and wondering where to start.

So, in a further improvement to our online support material there are now a number of sample specifications available to download from our website. There are a number of sample specifications for:
  • Project management (roles and definitions)
  • Architecture (door and window systems)
  • Electrical engineering services (low voltage system)
  • Mechanical engineering services (heating systems)
  • Structural engineer (piling and pilcap systems)
  • Landscape architecture (paving system)
Each download comes with a guide from the individual NBS Technical Author who writes and maintains the content. The specifications themselves can be opened in Adobe Reader or NBS Create.

The structure of each specification is consistent across each of the disciplines showing what can be achieved when the whole project team used NBS.

Some screen captures below:
Commentary from each NBS technical author

Samplle full specification for a doorset system
Sample performance specification for a traffic kerb system
All of the downloads are free - so please have a look at them at:

Thursday, 13 July 2017

EU BIM Handbook

This EU BIM Handbook has been published and may be downloaded for free from:

The drivers for BIM across europe are essentially the same as those in the UK - better information management allowing for more informed decisions that will positively impact the environment, society, resource availability and economic performance.

Those defining policy around public procurement can greatly influence BIM adoption in their region.

The handbook is a joint effort from over twenty european countries. However, in the UK, Mark Bew, Adam Matthews, Barry Blackwell and Richard Lane have all played a big effort here.

The handbook is written in plain language (in English - but presume translations will follow) and has three main sections: 1. Introduction, 2. General guidance and 3. Action recommendations.

1. Introduction
This looks at the business case for BIM and how the handbook can be a central reference point for the European public sector. The basic idea is that by following the guidance and recommendations then digital capacity can grow, a consistent way of working can be developed and behaviours can be changed through communicating the value.

2. General guidance
Section 2 goes into further depth into the business case for BIM. In particular, there is a good section on the value proposition.
Value proposition
The four most important strategic areas are identified:
Strategic focus
...and keeping the theme of 'four'... four core definition areas are highlighted:
Definition areas
3. Action recommendations
Following the guidance chapter, clear action recommendations are given at both a strategic level and an implementation level. Against each recommendation there are actions that are either 'encouraged', 'recommended' or 'highly recommended'.
Example recommendation
The influence of the UK's experience from recent years is there to be seen. Whether this is around communicating the strategy, funding and forming a stewardship team, engaging with industry and institutes, developing a framework for the technical process, use standards for classification and information exchange, develop an educational framework, measure progress against clear goals, provide tools and templates for the development of key documentation etc...

The Handbook also contains a number of case studies from across europe highlighting successes.

At 84 pages in length the handbook it seems a little daunting at first glance, but it is laid out extremely well with a mix of text, illustrations and tables - it is a really good easy read for anyone working in this field.

Download now for free and share with your colleagues :) :

Saturday, 1 July 2017

parkrun UK

Today I completed the 14th of the 14 parkrun's that surround Durham.  A quick blog post to say what an absolutely amazing initiative I think parkrun is.

It's completely free, it's run by volunteers in beautiful open spaces around the country and it has a great sense of community whether you are a top club athlete or a six year old wanting to jog/walk around a 5km route with their grandparent.
All fourteen of the parkruns surrounding Durham - Done
After completing the 14th of these local runs, I though I'd look back at my phone for photographs...
Whitley Bay in the rain - keeping pace with my little boy
Christmas Eve - 9am - Chester le Street

The National Trust owned Gibside Hall near Rowlands Gill
The hottest of June mornings in Costa-del-Hartlepool

Almost as hot in South Shields the following week

Newcastle Town Moor and the iconic Wylam Brewery
Sunny Waaaaalllllsend
Saltwell Park Gateshead

My hometown course in Durham running just behind my little girl

...and putting a bit back through volunteering once or twice
The volunteers get ready on at Durham for the junior parkrun
34 runs now across 18 different locations

In the rain at Prudhoe
So what is next? I think I may now need to spread the net and try out the runs at Druridge Bay further north and the likes of Northallerton further south.

So, if you like sport or just want to keep fit - I strongly recommend you try out a parkrun near you:

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Construction Manufacturers - Going Digital

One of the most debated topics at BIM conferences and on social media is around what building product manufacturers need to do to take advantage of digital opportunities.

Much of this debate is around 'do manufacturers need objects?' or 'do they just need information feeds?'.

I contributed an opinion piece on this topic for our 'What specifiers want' report that looks at how manufacturer information used to be delivered to specifiers by librarians and through physical product directories and what has changed in the last 4-5 years.

This report can be downloaded for free at:

Article in the What Specifiers Want report
The article looks at manufacturer content within models, but also the value of streaming well structured data straight into specifications (screenshot below), linked technical literature and the value of marketing through delivering knowledge to support construction professionals with their CPD. The value of face-to-face and relationship building is still there in a digital world!

The links below for those wanting to know more...

Download the free report

Read the comment piece on theNBS.com

Find out more about how NBS can support

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Autodesk University London Review

I've just been at Autodesk University London for two days. Almost 1,400 delegates at the fantastic (but *slightly* warm) Tobacco Docks venue.

A collection of the best bits from the two days below (told mainly through photographs and video) ;)

Starting with the keynote session on Day One, I think Martha Tsigkari from Foster and Partners stole the show. A fantastic passionate presentation on how cutting edge technology and inspirational design come together to produce an amazing built environment. The story from the Gherkin to Mexico Airport was told and it was a really good one.
Martha F+P
If you have the time, it's worth spending ten minutes watching the story behind the airport design...

Machine learning, the cloud and big data was maybe the theme of day one. And every AI presentation needs the Terminator (it's the rules!)...
The machines are coming!
Less scary than the Terminator (I think) is this machine-learning-paintball-machine that can er... paint the Mona Lisa in 80 milliseconds :)

Back to reality (and more relevant to AEC) is the functionality that nobody knows about on your iPhone that categorises you photographs by recognising the objects in them! Try searching for 'dog' or 'football' or 'beer' or 'skyscraper' or 'bridge' or 'sun' on your phone now...

Automatic image recognition
What are practical applications of this? There was a presentation showing how health and safety issues can be captured in real time through video recognition - 'no hard hat' - 'no high vis jacket'. How machines can design the strongest structure with the least material through cloud iterations. How machines could potentially help predict the most likely specification decisions based on the parameters that are entered... some mind blowing things.

Back to the here and now, we had the pleasure to launch the public beta of our new NBS Online Viewer. This has been a collaboration between ourselves and Autodesk that allows model and specifications to be viewed in the cloud. It was fantastic to be on Stage One presenting to a big crowd and also to have Brian Roepke from Autodesk and Don Kelman from BDP as part of the same joint presentation.
Always great to present to a big audience
Fantastic to have Don from BDP Glasgow on stage giving the customer story
Please check out our BDP case study video below...

For the NBS Online Viewer we used components from the Autodesk Forge toolset. Later in the day Adam Nagy from the Forge team presented showing some sample code and demonstrating live prototypes on the stage.

Live software demos

I wonder what these guys thought would happen over the next 35 years?
Throughout both days we had two stands within the Exhibition Hall. We demonstrated the viewer at the Forge Stand and also had a main NBS stand to showcase the full NBS BIM workflow.
Live software demonstrations

Discussions around the NBS stand
The day two keynote looked at the latest developments in the Autodesk product range from all of their sectors. The themes that go across the industry include the need to

  • Change from a paper world to a digital world
  • Connect data from different software solutions together
  • Utilise the power of the cloud and big data to be able to design, build and monitor use more effectively.

A simpler plan of work - design it, make it, use it

Sarah Hodges looking at an industry that relies on paper
I attended the ISG Smart Building presentation from Paul Cook that was interesting. The summary being, if you want to have a truly smart building in the operation stage - then you must consider the information structures that will get built up from the strategy stage.

There were also sessions on the creative software used to produce the special effects in movies.
I'm one with the Force and the Force is with me
Then moving back to the AEC sector I learnt a little more about Smart Motorways and how CH2M are managing and delivering information models on these projects.

I was on again on day two (last session of the conference) where I looked at some example BIM projects where information coordination was being seen. In our NBS National BIM Survey we ask the question about BIM adoption, but how do people judge whether they actually are? Is modelling in 3D to generate drawings, schedules and detect clashes enough?
A smaller project (when compared to a railway station!) case study below:

Fantastic to see so many people staying right to the very end to listen to my second talk
So an intense, inspiring, very worthwhile couple of days. Really fantastic to meet up with so many people. For more information on how NBS can help with your BIM adoptions please check out the website below:

A little cooler, quieter and with some very beautiful spaces down on the lower floor

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

20 Fenchurch Street - The Walkie Talkie

I've known for sometime that it is possible to book a free visit slot at the Sky Garden at the top of 20 Fenchurch Street (The Walkie Talkie) London.

So I used the opportunity before the the Autodesk University London set up afternoon to do a bit of lunchtime work there.

Photographs below...

The Walkie Talkie

The initial view

The writing on the glass indicates the view points

The contrast of old vs new

The fantastic space at the top

Natural ventillation combined with artificial watering provides the environment for the garden

Quiet at the back for those wanting a view of the Shard and the Gherkin

Zoom in to spot Wembley in the distance

Plants + Glass + View

Not a bad location to work from

Pretty high
Other tall building blog posts...
- Tower Hill
- Durham Cathedral
- Marina Bay Sands
- The Gherkin

...and a BIM presentation from Hilson Moran on this project from five years ago...