BAU Stockholm: Improving City Living
We meet Per-Eric Sundby and Stig Bengtsson at the BAU office in Stockholm. Per-Eric is one of the founders and CEO, Stig is responsible for BIM development. They’re a competitive bunch these BAU guys. Per-Eric makes it clear that he does indeed make the best Crème Brule. Stig is inclined to agree. After all, Stigs’ wife told him it wasn’t a good idea to open a restaurant if architecture didn’t work out. I guess we had better move on to some other topics…
BAU –Bureau of Architecture & Urbanism– was established in 1991. It currently has 70 staff. They represent 17 nationalities. The oldest being born in 1933, to the youngest in 1990. It’s a 50/50 split between male and female staff. The office is situated in an old factory building, above some local art galleries. Per-Eric describes the staff as ‘ambitious’ and this fits well with their business success of recent years.
BAU likes to work with complex projects. They work mostly in Sweden and frequently work alongside individual consultants and contractors. Their motivation and mission is to improve urban spaces – to bring quality back into city living for its inhabitants. I feel this is something that fits very well with their Swedish brand of architecture.
“We start from the position of realizing the urban context and how we can support urban life. We develop our work in close collaboration with our clients. By doing so, we make architecture that fits their business and their end users. We want to make the world a little better, without wanting to sound to self-prestigious.” Tells Per-Eric.
It certainly seems to be working. BAU are currently involved in developing the largest shopping mall in Scandinavia. One that is both rewarding and challenging in equal measure. Stig explains how they won that pitch by offering Business Information Modelling (BIM). It convinced the owners that BAU had a great creative idea that could be realized and controlled. BAU combines BIM with eco beliefs – to measure the daylight throughout the building and to shape the design to improve the experience of the visitors. BAU already wanted to take it a stage further and use a combined BIM-eco team to take advantage right from the early design stages. With BIM being mandated by many Scandinavian contractors, BAU sees technology as the key for all future building projects.
Stig has been using BIM since 1995 in Sweden and the US. He feels the last 5 years has seen a rapid growth in BIM adoption and now teaches it to many of the younger architects. “The whole industry is becoming more global. We’re all using the same software these days. With similar certifications and standards, it’s possible to have the whole industry thinking about the environment. It’s about changing mindsets.”
I turn to the question of Solibri and how they came to use it. “I first heard about Solibri when in the US around 2001-2002. I was already interesting in drawing technology tools and Solibri sounded like an interesting program for model checking. When coordinating the architectural and structural models, I want everything to clash to make sure the models match. Solibri will let us know if they don’t. I also want to do deficiency detection. It’s the only program that will do that for us. Overlapping walls and duplicate columns looks fine in CAD but its Solibri that then points out if it’s not.” Said Stig.
Both gentlemen agree their models wouldn’t be the quality that they are without Solibri. With IFC formats continuing to develop, Solibri continues to help project manage. Stig continues “Solibri is a very capable program, I have used Solibri efficiently and see others being interested in its capabilities when I use it. Its less about clash detection, it’s not just about quality control, it’s about handling complicated models well in various ways. We can save more of our time and the client’s money as we get better and better with the tool.”
We continue to talk about how things had been. Initially, there existed only the architectural model and it became the starting point for other disciplines. These days, the BAU model remains live throughout the project and acts as the main starting point for the other contractor teams. In this way, BAU maintain the creative and project management of the build. Stig also believes you can offer less environmental waste by utilizing Solibri and the associated drawing software to fix mistakes before the building actually begins.
As Stig is a curious and exploratory user of technology, I ask what more Solibri could do for him. He believes he can do even more with the software if he gets deeper training. He would also like to get more people using Solibri in the office. It’s something I and Robert Priller from Graphisoft Sweden take as an action point.
Its 6pm and we plan to leave BAU. The office is still full with the buzz of people working on their projects. It truly feels like an office full of energy and creativity. I just hope Per-Eric takes time to teach Stig about that perfect Crème Brule…
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