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Shaping digital change in construction from a social and technical perspective – developing a model based on how buildings are created and used.

What issue will the project deal with?

With the introduction of building information modelling (BIM), the planning, construction and real estate industry are undergoing a paradigm shift. The associated integrated, centralised and property-based management and coordination of project information is having a disruptive impact on work processes, the roles of everyone involved (contracting party, tradespeople and construction companies) and the requirements placed on team structures and project staff.

The IT element of these three-dimensional, digital, information-driven building models is already well developed. To realise the quality- and cost-related potential through modelling comprehensive construction projects at an early stage, the key challenges primarily lie in fostering interdisciplinary and cross-company cooperation and setting up a largely digitalised, consistent project management process. There are also fresh challenges when designing places for experts and interdisciplinary teams to work on the 3D models.


What results and impacts are to be achieved?

If, in the context of this dramatic upheaval in the construction industry, we succeed in establishing an interdisciplinary centre of excellence that can offer a portfolio consisting of research, services, training and continuing education, this has the potential to offer significant benefits.

The project will pursue the following objectives in particular:

  • Generating and evaluating scientific and practical insights on five interdisciplinary areas – business processes, cooperation, technology, expertise and business models – within the digitalised planning and construction industry.
  • Implementing pilot projects in stages of the process that are critical to success in order to provide fresh impetus to the development and evaluation of model processes and procedures in digitalised construction projects. The pilot projects will have an impact on practice (beacon).
  • Setting up an FHNW-wide centre of excellence in conjunction with the new Institute for Digital Construction at the School of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geomatics in order to “shape digital change and promote interdisciplinarity in the construction industry” and to act as a point of contact, particularly for SMEs in the construction industry.
  • Launching research projects funded by third parties which are based on and then further develop or expand on the theoretical and methodological foundations laid in a targeted way.
  • Sharing the findings as a basis for teaching and continuing education, in particular as regards developing interdisciplinary continuing education products.
  • Actively helping to shape the future planning and construction process as part of an interdisciplinary project team.


What will be different about the interdisciplinary cooperation on the project?

As in the construction industry itself, an interdisciplinary expertise structure is indispensable to this project. As a result of what has previously been only a hesitant digitalisation of planning and construction processes, we require industry-specific process expertise (School of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geomatics), technical expertise, particularly as regards visualising and manipulating digital data (School of Engineering, School of Life Sciences), expertise in cooperation and joint project work and in determining new skills offered by staff (School of Applied Psychology) and expertise in new business models (School of Business). All of this will be possible thanks to the modified processes and cooperation procedures.

It is only through interdisciplinary teamwork that we will be able to set objectives geared towards modifying working methods and the specific processes involved in construction. In the project, this approach will be underpinned by integrated objectives and work packages, collaborative project management, a learning phase for interdisciplinary cooperation at the beginning of the project and joint case studies, development phases and pilot projects.


Prof. Manfred Huber
Prof. Manfred Huber Leiter Institut Digitales Bauen
Telephone : +41 61 228 55 17 (direct)
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