The efficiency of finding issues early

Thriving in large projects where managing a host of different players is crucial for a quality outcome, Itten+Brechbühl AG works on the Flexible Office Building (FOB) project, a 4-storey office building with an underground technical central constructed for the Roche Pharma AG in Grenzach-Wyhlen, Germany. General planner in the project, Itten+Brechbühl AG is in charge for the BIM coordination as well as for defining the BIM processes in the project. The work has just progressed to realization on the construction site.

Itten+Brechbühl AG is a Swiss architectural and general planning company focusing especially on complex buildings and larger projects. With over 300 employees, the company has seven offices in Switzerland and three in Germany. “The models we deal with contain so much information that it’s impossible to check them manually or visually,” says Constanze Hopf, BIM Manager at Itten+Brechbühl AG. She continues: “When you invest in the BIM method and model checking, you find issues or planning problems a lot earlier in your projects that may otherwise not arise until on the construction site. In the end, in my opinion, this brings largely savings on the construction site and this is what our clients benefit most from.”

At Itten+Brechbühl AG, ensuring the aggregated model contains no hard clashes between different disciplines is seen as the business as usual, the basic work. “For us, one of the main purposes of Solibri is that on top of the simple clash detection, there are so many other possibilities to actually look at the design qualities, planning qualities, and so on,” says Marc Pancera, Head of BIM Research & Development at Itten+Brechbühl AG. “For instance, we aim at assuring that the required information is in the right place in a model. Therefore, we work a lot with Solibri to make sure that the quality of a model is at the needed level, that it contains all the required information and only then we proceed with it in the project,” he adds.

“People often talk about coordination as if it was only clash detection, but quality assurance is so much more.”

Marc Pancera

In the FOB project, Hopf easily lists a host of situations where Solibri has been a significant help for the team. “You get a quick overview, for instance, in terms of which provisions for voids have been accepted by the civil engineer, which have already been taken over by the architect, or which don’t fit with the HVAC planning. We’ve also found it very helpful to have the rules for checking the space in front of doors or windows to see that they open,” Hopf remembers back. Another important check on the FOB project has been ensuring there’s enough space in front of the HVAC components. “This is really important for the operation of the building in terms of maintenance in the future,” Hopf explains.

Consequently, an essential part of using the BIM method in the FOB project is to define information in the model for future building maintenance purposes together with the client. Hopf describes: “We help solving, for example, where in the model it is most suitable to have this data.” Naturally linked to this, the client defines their own processes for the facility management, which relates back to what type of information may be needed. The best outcome comes from shared round table discussions. “It’s a big step in developing digital workflows for Roche Pharma AG, as well,” Hopf points out and continues: “The main benefit is having all the information structured in one place. For example, at any time you can click on an HVAC component and immediately have an overview of all the related information. You can access all the available datasheets and make comments within the model on this component.”

Pancera sees that Solibri has become the gatekeeper for quality and the main core of his team’s actions. “We started customizing and creating our own Solibri rules about a year ago. We started with our first ideas with classifications and as our team grew, we started building up rulesets by ourselves. Now, we are at a stage where we go further and start implementing rules which we can then even offer to others out there,” he says. The new Solibri Developer Platform, still in the BETA phase, opens up even more possibilities for developers to create even more detailed or complex rulesets, and Itten+Brechbühl AG is keen on being a part of the development. “It’s very interesting how it makes using rules even cleverer and improves our daily processes. This creates many advantages and is very useful for us and our clients,” Pancera reflects.


Project name: Grenzach B45-FOB, Flexible Office Building

Client: Roche Pharma AG, Grenzach-Wyhlen

Location: Grenzach-Wyhlen, Germany

General planner: Itten+Brechbühl AG

Architect: Christ & Gantenbein

Civil Engineer: Schnetzer Puskas Ingenieure AG

HVAC planner: ZWP Ingenieur-AG


Constanze Hopf is in charge of defining processes and supporting the planning teams with all their BIM process related issues. She works as an advisor to the company’s internal teams in solving problems and adapting processes wherever there is a need for adjustment for smoother workflows. She’s been an active Solibri user for nearly 4 years.
Marc Pancera leads the BIM Research and Development team which focuses on the digitalization and automation of processes and workflows as well as developing the quality assurance and communication around BIM models at Itten+Brechbühl AG. The team offers not only support but also drives development, for example, in the form of pilot projects for adopting new technologies.