BIM Show Live 2017: Show Review

BIM Show Live, not just a sell out but a knock out. Everything about the show was a hit with the (over) 400 visitors, speakers, seminar content and the superb Boiler Shop venue. 

Digital construction enthusiasts travelled to the North East from all over the world for this innovation in technology led show.

The speakers were expertly choreographed by Chairs David Philp, Global BIM/IM Consultancy Director at AECOM & Chair of the Scottish BIM Delivery Group (Day 1) and Simon Rawlinson, Head of Strategic Research and Insight at Arcadis (Day2). With the seminar streams delivery split between four rooms, delegates found the selection as to which to attend a difficult task as each offered an elevated level of learning, insight and indeed inspiration.

Show co-founder, Rob Charlton, CEO of Space Group commented: “At Space Group we wanted to create a show that not only produced a knowledge exchange and learning platform for digital construction, but to put on a show to remember and we certainly achieved both. Since we first began in 2011 we have maintained the philosophy that we are doing this for our colleagues and peers to create opportunities and secure the future of construction. The seminar sessions were packed out, and left standing room only. The enthusiasm from speaker and delegates was superb to see.”


With five keynote speakers over the two days, they each gave us very different perspective on digital construction, from innovators and developers to clients and end users.

Mark Shayler, Founder and Director of Ape, gave the show an electric start with his endless enthusiasm for life, instructing the audience to embrace opportunities and use these to transform how we live and work.  Using musical references from his own life-experiences to illustrate the rapid rate of change over the past few decades Mark took his audience through an epic journey of self-realisation and his ability to make multi-million pound transformations for his clients and how change is positive, urging us all to be who we want to be, realise our goals and ambitions, because we don’t need to be the person we were yesterday!

James Pellatt, Head of Projects from Great Portland Estates (GPE) not only delivered a captivating talk on past and future GPE projects, but told us what clients need and expect from BIM providers, not just data, but an imbedded understanding of how to translate BIM into a commercial entity producing long-term returns on investment. GPE delivers superior total returns by seeking to outperform the market and has developed some of the most technologically advance buildings in Central London.

The third keynote on Day 1 was Stuart Maggs, Founder of Scaled Robotics. Stuart is a technology driven entrepreneur who builds robots! Stuart gave an insight into machine learning through robotics and the level of advancement which has taken place in this sector in the past few years, plus his predictions for what will be happening in the not so distant future as to how robots will transform our lives. We design digitally, but still build manually and robots and drones will take us into a new era of construction.

Nell Watson (engineer, future orientated thinker and Faculty Member of the Singularity University) was a very tough act to follow, after blowing everyone away with the capabilities of artificial intelligence and how machines operate in a very similar way to the human brain, through programmed data and algorithms. Just like humans, they learn in both structure ‘instruction lead’ and unstructured formats, and also learn from feedback; trial and error and reward for accomplishments.  For what a human can do in one second, so can a machine, the difference is they do it on repeat.

Peter Runacres, Senior Projects Director for Argent, talked through some of Argents projects, in particular the retail and office space redevelopment at Kings Cross.  Known for its ‘Place Making’ abilities, Peter aligned Argents success with being able to put the right people and processes in place. Through this smart network of people, they can ensure that their in-house teams deliver exceptional build quality using advanced technology. All of the learning they gained from Kings Cross is now being put into the multi-million pound Brent Cross redevelopment in London.

The highlights from Day 1 saw Mike Turpin, Head of BIM at Capita gaving a warts and all view on a day-in-the-life of a BIM Manager and what this role really means; and quite simply we learnt that there’s not one single explanation, that it means different things to different organisations and in the BIM world standardisation is essential – therefore we still have some work to do to get it right.

Two Associates from Herbert Smith Freehills, Sarah Rock and Ashleigh Cole looked at BIM from a legal perspective, asking us to take more consideration into what the client actually needs and wants, and facilitating this. A fascinating insight into the workings of BIM from a different angle.

Gareth Edwards and Michael Hudson from Flanagan Lawrence, took us through a client case study and gave an honest view of what worked and didn’t work. Which was complimented by Sainsbury’s Michael Barbour and PCSG’s Mark Stodgell who talked about the Sainsbury’s BIM-story and the benefits this has made to the organisation.

Elliott Crossley (BDP), in his first of two talks, look at the role of an architect in this modern built environment and what predicted transformation we will encounter over the next few years, will the introduction of artificial intelligence mean that machines take over all our job? Elliot thought not, there is still a place for creativity and independent thought.

And at the close of Day 1 (before the party started) Olly Thomas of BIM Technology ended on a practical note, that by drilling down to the core of BIM and passing over the fluffy stuff is what gets us the real results. The value in collaboration is early engagement and to ensure all parties work to exacting standards we need quality information and data. This quality is often questionable and urgently needs to be addressed.

On Day 2 Jonathan Ingram (City Simulations) can quite easily be labelled the ‘Father of BIM’ in his captivating story of the origins of BIM, 3D software and programming – wow we forgot that computers really looked like that in the 80’s! And for this amazing story, Jonathan was awarded the Best Classroom Talk in our show’s BIMMY Awards.

We heard from town planning expert Rosemarie Andrews from Hot Architecture on how until recently planners have not made best use of BIM, however now it is transforming the planning process. Malachy Mathews from DIT presented on growing synergies between BIM+Blockchain and proposed a new process for true collaboration. And taking us through data requirements and how to create the right kind of date, Nigel Davies of Evolve told us that Data has always existed, we just probably don’t register it correctly as “data”. Therefore, we need to understand the long-term journey of our project, identify the key deliverables and match our data accordingly.

Steve Appleby (AECOM) joined the BIM Show Live speaker line up after traveling all the way from Australia, born and raised in the North East, it was a warm welcome home for Steve. Other international travellers included; Ashleigh Cole, also from Australia, Susan Brattberg of Global eTraining from Canada, Patrik Lindvall of Bonava in Sweden and White Arkitekter’s Nina Borgstrom, Rikard Matson and Sara Yilner, also based in Sweden. Plus many of the delegates had travelled internationally to see these BIM experts and extract core-learning practices that they can translate into their own projects.

Rob continued to say: “All that’s left to say is to thank everyone for sharing our show with us in Newcastle. The support of our sponsors, exhibitors and speakers has been fantastic and we would like to thank them for their input. Without it there wouldn’t be a BIM Show Live.

“We are already planning for next year, we see this as a long-term commitment and our aim is to help drive a digital revolution to ensure the construction industry achieves another fantastic five years.”

This certainly was a show about the people and for the people who are passionate about digital construction methods and what the future holds for the construction industry. Key learning came from the need to future-proof the industry by introducing new design, build and delivery methods and that the answers may very much lie in the hands of our developers and technologists. Let’s see how far things have progressed when we visit BIM Show Live in 2018.