By 2016 all parties involved with new Government construction projects or public sector projects over £50 mill require level of Building Information Modelling (BIM). The Landmark Practice realises that this may leave clients in the dark as to the implications of these changes.  This article therefore aims to shed some light on the elusive BIM for those who have not yet come across it or simply wish to know more about it.

So what is BIM? …no, really?

There has been a great deal of confusion about what BIM actually is, with the widely held misconception that it is a form of design software such as AutoCAD or Vectorworks.  In effect BIM is not a software package, it describes an integrated process; the coordinated exchange of reliable information between parties involved with a project.

The diagram below summarises for current and prospective clients the facets of the process of BIM:



BIM software combines all the procedures and information shared between these parties on a specific project into one system (refer to glossary below for COBie and IFC definitions.)

What is not apparent to many consultancies and their clients is that they could already be achieving the necessary BIM requirements set out by the government without realising it.

Realities of BIM now

As of 2016 the Government necessitates the use of fully collaborative, three-dimensional Level 2 BIM, on all projects greater than £5 million in value.

The long and short of this is that Design and Build projects, for example, may require Level 2 BIM compliance and the production of a BIM Execution Plan (BEP).  It is important to note, however that it is not mandatory for all involved parties to be able to directly manipulate the BIM model or use specific BIM software.

Using current technology, consultancies without BIM software can still find alternative methods to provide the necessary Level 2 information, and be part of a larger team implementing BIM, although the employment of a specialist consultant is advisable.  BIM Level 2 requirements can be achieved through use of 2D CAD, virtual 3D models, exportable information in standard formats, and documents pertaining to the future management of landscapes.

With regard to future trends, although consultancies involved in BIM projects without specific software can rely on other involved parties to update a BIM model, with the rest of the construction industry working with BIM Level 2 software and working towards Level 3, it is widely acknowledged that the landscape profession should follow suit.

Benefits and future of BIM software in Landscape Architecture

There are substantial benefits when adopting BIM software, aside from confidence in BIM Level 2 compliancy.  From previous experience with BIM, it is easy to see these benefits –  summarised, along with the inevitable disadvantages in the list below.


Issues with Landscape BIM software – For Landscape Consultancies

BIM software currently on the market has been developed principally with architects, engineers and facilities managers in mind and does not yet completely fulfil a landscape architect’s requirements. Landscape Architects are therefore at risk however of falling behind our architectural counterparts.  The Landscape Institute recognises this but has recommended that landscape architects need not purchase anything new yet.  As McCapra stated “… be prepared but buy nothing.”

We at Landmark are however keeping a close eye on this field and engage wherever possible.  BIM is here to stay and the sooner we can start investing in it in the Landscape Architecture profession, the better.


Article glossary:

BIM: Building information modelling (BIM) is a process involving modelling of a building/asset in digital form 

BIM Execution Plan (BEP): A document that sets out the proposals for managing delivery of the project.  A pre-contract BEP is prepared by prospective suppliers to address the issues raised in the Employer’s Information Requirements (EIR).  This is sometimes followed by more detail post-contract award to explain the supplier’s methodology for delivering the project using BIM.

IFC: an open file format specification that platform neutral and is not controlled by a single vendor /group of vendors to facilitate interoperability.  It is an object-based file format with a data model.

COBie: an information exchange specification for the life-cycle capture and delivery of information needed by facility managers. COBie can be viewed in design, construction, and maintenance software as well as in simple spreadsheets (definition courtesy of the National Institute of Building Science).


Helpful Links:

Positive view of BIM in Landscape Architecture

Landscape institute journal

Wondering what BIM Software is right for you and your company?

Helpful information specific to landscape architects:

The Need for Landscape Information Modelling (LIM)