ArchiExpo e-Magazine - #13 - Batimat’s Digital Revolution - ArchiExpo e-Magazine

Special Edition


Special Edition


Batimat’s Digital Revolution

The digital revolution affects all segments and trades, including the construction industry. French construction trade fair Batimat, held every two years, offered conferences and workshops on the topic from November 2 to 6, 2015.

We bring you the best information gathered at the fair, including details on BIM for interior design, energy consumption through lighting products, vertical farms and one of the newest members of La Défense in Paris: La Philarmonie by Jean Nouvel.

As the trade fair Batimat is located in Paris, this issue talks a lot about the city, known for valuable innovative design and architecture. Our thoughts go to all the people who suffered from the recent events and our hopes to those who will make Paris shine again.#jesuisparis

ArchiExpo mediakit
Hot Topic
“There is no zero-energy-waste lighting product”
LED Perihelion pendant by Jan Flook Lighting

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As the goal to reduce energy consumption grows for countries around the world, the French launched the Energy Transition for Green Growth in 2014. The plan calls for the post-oil era and a stronger, more sustainable energy model where prices, depletion of resources and environmental protection requirements are...

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Hot Topic
“BIM is as applicable to interior design as it is to architecture”

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BIM was under discussion at Batimat 2015 in Paris, a leading biennial construction exhibition. One pertinent BIM presentation was made by Agence Qualite Construction (AQC), a Paris-based organization. To examine the performance of BIM, AQC launched a study in 2010 that would follow the construction processes of 40 projects that use BIM. Olivier Celnik, founder and associate director of Z.Studio, and Bianqui Kamaro, a representative of AQC, provided Batimat attendees with the first batch of results from AQC’s study. They included an overview on difficulties encountered when using BIM as well as mishaps ascribable to different BIM indications that affect all sectors in architecture from construction to interior design.

Examining the Performance of BIM

BIM is very much a collaborative way of working, with many actors—structural engineers, architects, interior designers—involved in its function. As such, the various players must keep information updated in order to avoid mistakes. During the Batimat AQC session, Olivier Celnik remarked, “If we listen to the conferences focused on BIM around the fair, BIM is magical and universal, and with it everything will be better. This is far from the case.” He questioned how much confidence parties should place in BIM, especially when considering the reliability of information represented (or not, as the case may be). Issues of reliability are not specific to BIM and have been around much longer. Yet as Bianqui Kamaro added, “We want to know how well we can correct mistakes with BIM before they take place.”

One such example of this is in detecting collisions. Gwenael Bachelot, South Europe AEC technical sales manager at Autodesk, explained to ArchiExpo that BIM is a practical tool when searching for commodities that should keep away from one another, thus averting any potential collisions. He used the example of a gas duct and electricity wire: “With BIM you can search for all of the electricity wires that are less than one meter from a gas duct. However, the user needs to understand how to operate the software in order to perform an adequate search.” Bachelot stressed the need for updating information, highlighting that one challenge with BIM is working with multiple players. As such, it’s essential that when using BIM, a virtual construction is completed before beginning any real construction.

An Eye on Interior Designers

Moving beyond construction, ArchiExpo questions the use and applicability of BIM across the interior design sector, an area where its implementation is relatively novel. Few interior designers are incorporating BIM as part of their practice, with the majority resisting its application. Firms who use BIM are likely finding themselves observed by those yet to test the water.

One notable firm that is integrating BIM into its interior design practices is Bluehaus Group, a consultancy with key competencies in architecture, interior design and engineering. Bluehaus Group CEO & founder Ben Corrigan explained to ArchiExpo, “We made a decision in 2012 to invest in BIM (Revit) and by the end of 2014, we would deliver all projects in Revit ‘as standard.’ We achieved this.” Transitioning to BIM from a more traditional way of working proved a huge cultural change. Corrigan observes, “Over three years one thing we have learned is that BIM is as much about changing the culture and mindset of your business as it is about integrating the software. Even after three years, we are still learning.”

Corrigan believes that BIM is as applicable to interior design as it is to architecture. He’s convinced that interior design firms will eventually embrace BIM: “The only conclusion we can come to is that the time, investment and desire to make a substantial change to business culture needs a determined and persistent drive from leadership.” Getting everyone on board is essential to implementing BIM, and persistence does pay dividends. From Corrigan’s perspective, momentum is building. He says, “We are seeing more and more coverage and exposure on BIM; it’s an exciting time for our industry.”

Recent Bluehaus Group projects include The Dome Box theatre in Dubai and Arup head office in Dubai.

Courtesy of Bluehaus Group

Courtesy of Bluehaus Group

Ready to Make the Plunge?

BIM’s learning curve is steep and complex, necessitating a higher level of competency.  Moreover, BIM as a process requires more investment of time and effort than more traditional applications, such as CAD, at the earlier stages of a project. With interior design and BIM, Gwenael Bachelot at Autodesk reaffirms that integrating interior design into BIM processes is a relatively new area. Bachelot points out that although interior design in 3-D is common, interior designers still tend to be skeptical of BIM. He explains, “With BIM there is a transition. You have to change the way you work. When transferring from 3-D to BIM you don’t see the benefit for a considerable period of the project. You see the benefit at the end.”

Larger enterprises that use BIM in their interior design work are often heavily involved in architectural work, suggesting that using BIM in architectural projects smooths the way for its use in interior design. Such larger enterprises include: Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel and Partners (based in Milan), M Moser Associates (with offices worldwide) and HOK (headquartered in St. Louis, this is the largest U.S.-based architecture/engineering firm and the second-largest interior design firm).

Coordinating architecture, engineering and interiors, HOK was appointed master architect at the end of November 2010 for a mammoth development framework for Gatwick Airport. The architect has implemented BIM for the framework, including the refurbishment of the North Terminal. Work on the North Terminal is expected to be completed in 2017.

Curious to find out more about the use of BIM by small to medium-sized interior design firms, ArchiExpo contacted a number of such firms, asking if they use it in their working practices and for their thoughts on BIM as an interior design tool. Of the responses received, not one interior designer was using BIM, had any thoughts on BIM or was planning to use BIM in the future. For the time being, it would seem that the software is more useful to larger interior design firms. There was also something of an undercurrent of BIM as being too heavy a tool for smaller interior design businesses to engage with.

Only Time Will Tell

The widespread adoption of BIM across the interior design profession is, in all probability, many years from reaching fruition. Interior designers will need to see many BIM success stories in order to entertain its practicality. Even then, questions remain: Is BIM a viable and indeed affordable tool for smaller interior design firms? BIM may offer numerous benefits to architecture and construction, yet are such benefits considered important enough and understood by interior designers? Does BIM counter creativity, its process akin to the leaner systems often found in manufacturing?


Hot Topic
“Vertical farms have the potential to completely transform the way that our food gets produced and distributed”

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Water is growing scarcer, arable farmland is disappearing and global hunger is such that one out of nine people on Earth is suffering from chronic undernourishment. Indeed, one of the biggest challenges facing humanity today is finding more sustainable ways to grow food. Exhibitors presented ingenious solutions such...

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While running through the Batimat halls with French journalist Cyrille Maury, a construction specialist who led the Lumière et Transparence guided tour around...

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Our Batimat tour bus pulled up near the end of the afternoon November 3, 2015. The Parisian sky, cluttered with clouds of various grays, blended with the...

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    An abundance of wood products brought nature to the trade fair. We were handed a square wooden block at one of the stands. The award-winning Accoya wood felt smooth, so we spoke to Mathieu Blanc, sales manager at Accoya, for more details.

    ArchiExpo: What is Accoya wood?

    Mathieu Blanc: We modify wood at the molecular level via a molecular chemical process. It isn’t toxic. It alters the cell membranes, such that the hydroxide molecules that foster rot, swelling and shrinkage of the wood, are changed into acetyl molecules. For this reason the process is called acetylation.

    It allows us to transform fast-growing plantation wood into wood with characteristics superior to those of tropical woods. The product is extremely durable and offers far better dimensional stability than any other wood on the world market. It won’t change size or curl, making it good for windows.

    On the environmental side, it’s carbon negative. We have the gold Cradle-to-Cradle certificate, a respected international standard. We also have the Nordic label and others in numerous countries.

    ArchiExpo: How about aesthetics?

    Blanc: It’s still wood, but with attractive characteristics. Paint and other coatings will last longer on Accoya than on traditional woods because there’s no dimensional variation. It has a very good thermal conductivity quotient, which is particularly advantageous for windows. Traditionally, durability required the use of exotic woods, which are much more conductive. It’s also suitable for terraces and furniture.

    Courtesy of Accoya

    Courtesy of Accoya

    ArchiExpo: How do architects view Accoya?

    Blanc: Architects and designers want a stable, durable wood with attractive environmental characteristics, too. They don’t want something from equatorial or Amazonian forests that takes 500 years to grow and is over-harvested. We have to find alternatives to all these exotic woods. We need wood from forests that are sustainably managed.

    We need knot-free wood in order to compete with exotic species with design attributes. The branches have to be cut off as the tree grows. This wood grows very fast, improving carbon storage.

    ArchiExpo: What types of woods can be used to make Accoya®?

    Blanc: In general, European woods, even pine and Norway spruce, take 120 years to yield two cubic meters. We’re using wood that gives us five cubic meters in 125 years. It stocks a huge amount of carbon in a short time. Even if the wood comes from far-away plantations, the carbon emissions are tiny in terms of the overall process. Just because it comes from far away, doesn’t mean it’s a negative factor. It’s better than deforesting the Amazon basin. We import to Holland, [where the factory is].



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    In the spirit of connected and smart cities and objects, a theme presented during trade fair Batimat in Paris, digital technology in textiles mixes design, art...

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    French company Midlightsun has come up with a fiber optic fabric that emits light, presented at this year’s exhibition Batimat. Tagged “Made in France,” the...

    In the spirit of Batimat’s focus on Africa, ArchiExpo spoke with one of the leading designers in Cape Town. Laurie Wiid Van Heerden, founder of Wiid Design, specializes in interior design and focuses on the quality, authenticity and originality of his work.

    Wiid Design uses a lot of local and natural materials: stainless steel, new and reclaimed timber, leather, felt and ceramics. While the designer incorporates these local materials when possible, he also “[uses] a lot of cork, which is imported from Portugal.” One of his exemplary products is the Poodle stool and table range, a name given because “a lot of people said it looks very similar to a poodle, especially [he] attached the cork sleeves to the timber legs”

    Courtesy of Wiid Design

    Courtesy of Wiid Design

    The Poodle range was designed four years ago and showcased at 100% Design in London. Today the designer continues to play with cork. “I’ve been working with cork for quite a while, so I understand it very well.” His large cork pendant, 2.8 meters tall, was exhibited at the Southern Guild Gallery and won the Best Lighting Design award in 100% Design South Africa in 2015. The gallery founded the first international design fair in Africa called Guild Design Fair.


    Courtesy of Wiid Design

    Courtesy of Wiid Design


    The cork is 100% organic and completely recyclable. The product is currently listed as the world’s largest cork pendant, fitted with a dimmable 30-watt warm white LED light. The light structure is fabricated from mild steel tubing and plate, and finished in a durable black ferro grade powder coat.

    Wiid Van Heerden shows his work within and outside Cape Town: Australia, Miami, Switzerland and Dubai, to name a few. “In Africa I’m generally seen in the south.” The Southern Guild Gallery, focused on high design and collectible art, makes up 70% of his exhibitions.

    He collaborates with architects, artists and interior designers, and is currently working on new projects for Milan, Miami and potentially Portugal. He’s working on local projects with companies like Nando’s and Cécile & Boyd.


    Michael Halpern

    Michael Halpern is ArchiExpo’s freelance copy editor and seasoned translator.

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    Gerard McGuickin

    Gerard McGuickin is a freelance design writer and a blogger.

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    Olga Sterkhova

    Olga Sterkhova  writes and translates in three languages: Russian, English and French.

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    Erin Tallman

    American artist Erin Tallman is a journalist for various online publications and is the Editor in Chief of ArchiExpo e-magazine. She has published three books, including her first novel.

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    Alex Ulam

    Alex Ulam is a freelance journalist and design critic based in New York.

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    Erin Gigl

    Erin Gigl is a freelance design and travel writer, editor and artist.

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