Learning from Other Countries: BIM Project – Danish Style

How to implement the Bispebjerg Hospital as a BIM-5D project

Whereas BIM is still at a relatively early stage of implementation in Germany, other European countries – including Denmark, Finland, Norway and the United Kingdom – have been using the digital planning method for a number of years already to realize major projects. One of the main reasons for this is that the public sector in these countries promotes the use of BIM to a much greater extent and that BIM is mandatory for public sector construction projects involving certain minimum levels of investment. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that Germany lags behind the other countries in this regard. That said, there is evidence even here in Germany of some clear movement towards BIM standardization. Since January 2017, for example, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) has been promoting the use of the method in public sector construction projects costing five million euros or more. And the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) is working towards making BIM the standard tool for all infrastructure projects from 2020 onwards. Until that happens, principals and planners in Germany can learn and benefit from what happens in other countries, a good example of which is the major project currently underway in Denmark to build a new acute hospital in Bispebjerg, Copenhagen.

BIM for hospitals

By 2025, two hospital sites in Frederiksberg and Bispebjerg will merge into a single hospital complex.

The BIM method has been mandatory since 2011 in Denmark for all local and regional projects costing more than EUR 2.7 million and for government buildings starting from a volume of EUR 677,000 already. This regulation applies to public hospitals, schools and administration agencies, amongst other bodies. This is why the biggest construction project currently underway in Copenhagen – Bispebjerg hospital – is being implemented using the digital planning method. The project involves merging the hospitals in Frederiksberg and Bispebjerg into a single hospital complex in Copenhagen’s Bispebjerg district by 2025. The gross floor area of the new complex will total more than 217,000 square meters, 121,000 square meters of which will be new build and 96,000 square meters revitalized old build.  The future complex will house somatics and psychiatry clinics as well as logistics, laboratory and education facilities. The site will also include space for 1,100 cars in outdoor parking lots and in two covered multi-story units. The principal – the region of Hovestaden (capital region) – is investing around EUR 530 million in the project. After completion, the hospital will be able to take in and care for 416,000 patients a year in the greater Copenhagen area.

The extensive construction project is being implemented as a BIM 5D project. One of the particular challenges it faces is the large number of parties involved. Proper hospital planning requires clinicians, physicians, engineers, project managers, process specialists and architects all to work hand in hand. An advantage of this interdisciplinary approach is that the planning process takes account of all of the construction, medical, regulatory and economic factors right from the beginning. As with every other sector, it is important to ensure commissioning can take place on time and within the agreed cost framework. However, quality and safety are particularly crucial in this sensitive field. Another major challenge facing all of the participants is how to integrate the new building units into around thirty existing building units. It is precisely in this type of complex project with a combination of new and existing buildings, not to mention a variety of different function areas such as treatment rooms, operating theaters and emergency admissions areas, that BIM can provide the transparency that all the participants need. In contrast to office or commercial buildings, time-saving in hospital projects is more than just a financial criterion – in certain circumstances it can even save lives. That is why it is necessary in modern hospital planning constantly to put internal processes to the test. The physical attributes of modern hospitals have a decisive influence on internal clinical processes and ultimately directly and indirectly on the quality of hospital care, patient safety and the specific financial management of the hospital. When it comes to complex construction projects of this nature, Building Information Modeling can shape the fundamental concept together with the planning and implementation of the project in a much more efficient manner – making the running of the hospital in due course safer and more sustainable.

Using BIM at Bispebjerg Hospital

The different levels of digital planning (based on the Bew-Richards BIM Maturity Model, 2008,2016, www.bimtaskgroup.org)

Implementing a major project such as Bispebjerg hospital with the assistance of BIM is a task in itself. The principal’s first priority, therefore, was to define the objectives of the project, and to select the right BIM strategy. This stage also involved determining the necessary degree of complexity of the BIM method and writing the required performance specifications into the invitation to tender. It was clear to the principal that the more precisely the requirements were formulated, the better would be the results that the planners deliver. The foundation for BIM-based collaboration was the BIM Execution Plan (BEP). This sets out organizational structures and responsibilities, and defines processes and requirements for individual participants’ collaboration. It is also the place where the quantities of in-depth information and detail, together with their qualities, are recorded. Experts from the real estate and consultancy company Drees & Sommer in Copenhagen were appointed as project managers. Drees & Sommer took on responsibility for oversight of the planners and BIM management in cooperation with Exigo A/S from Aarhus.

In order to ensure that everyone involved in the construction had a frame of reference and that communication could run smoothly, the project managers also ascertained, in line with the specified standard, which BIM level the principal and the project were on. In the case of the Bispebjerg hospital project the relevant maturity level for digital planning purposes was Level 2. This means that the model should be evaluated for 3D (construction elements, quantities), 4D (time) and 5D (cost). Specialist planners then carry out their planning in 3D BIM models, with more specialized BIM structures coming into use at the same time. With 4D BIM (time), elements such as processes and site logistics then come into the equation. This is when specifics are arrived at, with simulations being used to identify the right time and place for individual tasks to be carried out. In the Bispebjerg hospital example, control of 4D planning was effected via the VicoOffice model. Quantities from the same model were also used to achieve control of cost estimates and cost calculation.
BIM managers regularly compile status reports on BIM planning and BIM models in order to keep everyone involved in the project up to date with the progress achieved.

In order to do this, they check whether the BIM guidelines, as specified in the tender documentation, are being adhered to, whether plans match those in the virtual building model and whether correctly phased tracking of the virtual building model (VGM) and computer aided facility management (CAFM) tools has taken place. The BIM managers also take part in the regular BIM coordination meetings, compile risk reports relating to target achievement and coordination, and manage and optimize any inadequate planning in the change process. To this end, the experts employ Solibri software to carry out precise model analysis using clash detection (collision testing). Solibri allows consistent quality controls of BIM data to be carried out, from functional testing of floor space efficiency through to interior design, and helps to optimize weak points.

The project is currently in the design phase, the main focus at present being on the validation of cost calculations (5D). Construction work is scheduled to begin at the end of 2018. Using BIM has allowed the Bispebjerg hospital planning process to proceed in an integrated and cooperative manner. By using functional tendering procedures it has been possible to bring product manufacturers and construction companies into the planning process at an early stage. The fact that all information and all changes are captured digitally, are networked and are constantly aligned, means that communication between different items of work is quicker and less error prone, and that coordination processes are speeded up. The running of the hospital complex will also benefit from BIM after completion.


Despite the rapid rise of digital methods – or perhaps precisely because of it – Germany differs from Denmark in having no national BIM standards or regulations as yet. There is no basis, therefore, on which to define the methodology in a uniform fashion or to provide a precise description of BIM responsibilities and functionality in planning processes and business processes. And with no such standard in place, there is no organized or certified training in place either. In German-speaking countries there have so far been very few certification providers (such as TÜV SÜD) or even courses of study offering education or training in BIM. BIM development and training is already much further forward in northern European countries than in German speaking countries. This fact makes it difficult to apply a system of regulation to the processes and procedures that have already been created through the use of BIM. This is where the guidelines and manuals produced by a range of interest groups and working groups can be of assistance, as these at least contain the basic concepts, uniformly defined roles and main principles of the method. One thing is clear: more and more players in the construction sector are being won over by BIM as it facilitates the better illustration of processes, significant efficiency improvements and cost reductions.

Authors: Prof. Phillip Goltermann, Partner at Drees & Sommer, Tilmann Grube, Project Partner at Drees & Sommer Source: BIM Special 2017 - Ernst & Sohn Verlag