Collaboration par excellence

Example: Hasselt City Hall, Belgium — The building of the new municipal administration center in Hasselt, Belgium, demonstrates how seamless collaboration in building projects can minimize risks and save costs from the design phase all the way to commissioning.
A joint project of several brands of the Nemetschek Group.
Nemetschek brands involved: Allplan, GRAPHISOFT, Solibri

Pioneering planning and project execution with Open BIM

“The end-to-end use of BIM solutions constitutes genuine added value for all stakeholders in the building process
because it enables seamless and efficient collboration”

Steven Hendrickx, Head Architect in Hasselt

Large-scale, highly complex building projects in particular require ongoing, reliable and efficient coodination between all stakeholders – both internal and external – across disciplines and between companies. Therefore, in association with other market players, the Nemetschek Group is promoting the Open BIM data standard. This is a universal, collaborative approach to designing, constructing and operating buildings based on open standards and workflows It makes it possible for project stakeholders to collaborate, even if the type of software varies from user to user. The Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) interface has established itself as an open standard and is therefore of central significance.

Sharing and evaluating data throughout the entire product life cycle saves time and money and improves quality. The administration of data is key to this digital transformation, for it is only possible to take full advantage of the potential if each stakeholder can access the data that he or she needs at any given time. This begins with a realistic BIM building model, which is an essential prerequisite for a genuine 5D workflo. This model is no longer limited to just 3D construction data; it also includes data concerning the dimensions of time and costs.

Seamless collaboration exemplified by the Hasselt City Hall

Under the management of the architect team comprising Jaspers-Eyers, MASS Architects and Michel Janssen, a new municipal administration center is being built in Hasselt. The complex, consisting of a renovated building section and a new building, provides approx. 17,000 m2 for the city administration and social services as well as offices. The architects and their most important partners are using Open BIM software solutions for the entire construction process. Three Nemetschek solutions are being implemented for this project: Archicad from Graphisoft for the design and planning of the architects, Allplan Engineering for civil engineering, and the Solibri Model Checker for the BIM quality control carried out by the construction company.

From the beginning, all information concerning the building project is contained in the digital building model – from the draft to implementation – including all design details, desired materials, fire protection requirements, acoustic properties, insulation and building structures, and administration. This constitutes considerable added value for all stakeholders compared to the old standard model, which was purely 3D. Thus, this improvement ensures more than just seamless collaboration between all those involved. The complex project can be turned over to the municipality – the proud building owner – with the required quality, on time and within the specified budget.

Hasselt City Hall is groundbreaking – in terms of design, planning and project implementation.

Independent and yet consistent

Steven Hendrickx, the head architect in Hasselt, recognized four decisive factors with Open BIM over the course of the successful project:

  • Individual partners design their model with their preferred BIM software, and with their own templates. Outstanding collaboration is ensured, though, thanks to a common, uniform standard which is specified in advance.
  • The division of labor is defined at the beginning of the project. Data on statics, for instance, have an essential impact on the architecture and structural design. Data on heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, on the other hand, are also important but don’t generally flow directly into the architecture. These data, for example, can be sufficiently analyzed with the BIM solution for quality assurance from Solibri.
  • Design changes in one area don’t necessarily affect the plans of all the others involved in the project. The architecture and the building stage are inherently the most closely linked.
  • The expertise of the staff, i.e., extensive holistic knowledge of the various building disciplines, is also critical for the success of the project.

Two examples of the advantage of precise planning

In Hasselt, the construction company was commissioned with excavation, among other tasks. An assessment of the amount of sand that needed to be removed was done based on a cal culation using conventional 2D planning methods, which yielded a result of 800 cubic meters. The engineers used the Solibri Model Checker based on Open BIM and the data provided by the architects and arrived at a figue that was just half this amount, i.e., 400 cubic meters of sand. This shows how exact the work with Open BIM solutions can be.

The steel struts to be installed are another example: With the interface function IFC Exports from Allplan, it was possible to use the BIM model to automatically calculate which steel struts needed fieproofing. All it took was a mouse click to obtain precise results, right down to the running meter. In projects that don’t use Open BIM solutions, these calculations are made by manually entering the data from 2D drawings in Excel or some other software and then recalculating and evaluating the data for use in quotations and planning, a process that is susceptible to error and one that leaves a lot of room for interpretation. These errors often go undetected until the actual cost planning is already completed. In the case of the Hasselt City Hall,  it was possible to avoid such errors from the outset.

Converting to Open BIM pays off

As is the case with any change, it takes a certain amount of time for companies and employees to accept BIM as the norm. The best way, according to Steven Hendrickx, is to start out by planning smaller projects using BIM. The experience thereby gained will make it possible to complete successively larger BIM projects. The advantages of collaborating through Open BIM are obvious: The entire workflow is much simpler for all project stakeholders, and building projects are completed within time and cost budgets.


Consistent standards and open interfaces in par-ticular are essential for successful building projects. Stakeholders need solutions that can “work together” for all and any individual tasks being performed. Seamless collaboration between humans and machines: This is ensured with Open BIM, and backed by the brands of the Nemetschek Group.

Reference projects on this topic:

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