BIM and digitisation

BIM is the future of planning?
No, for us it’s already the present!

Since 2015, RKW Architektur + has been consistently on the path towards BIM. Architects were trained as 3D planners and learned to coordinate their own and other people's digital models with each other. We were able to gather experience and evaluate it for ourselves in a large number of projects at very different BIM levels.

We also share our knowledge and experience beyond the boundaries of RKW Architektur +. We support the Chamber of Architects of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Federal Chamber of Architects with statements on standardisation, with publications in the field of BIM and we also participate in various chamber committees - such as the digitisation project group. At Chamber events, we are on the podium as lecturers and we also teach at the Academy of the Chamber of Architects. In the Association of German Engineers (VDI), we participate in the national guideline work that is to structure work with BIM in the future.

Since July 2019, we have been a partner in the national BIM competence centre of the Federal Ministry. RKW Architektur + is one of 18 consortium partners who, under the leadership of planen-bauen 4.0 GmbH, have been commissioned with the planning and implementation of the national centre for the digitisation of construction "BIM Deutschland".

I/D Cologne: Two office buildings as the start of a new quarter - harmoniously integrated into the historic neighbourhood.

BIM and digitisation

The site of the former freight station in Cologne-Mülheim is being turned into I/D Cologne - a completely new commercial quarter with ultimately around 160,000 m² of office space. It is located in an area that has developed into a media and cultural location on the right bank of the Rhine in recent years, but is architecturally characterised above all by old industrial buildings in historic brick construction.

The defining urban element on the elongated site is a new neighbourhood square, opposite the listed building of the wire manufacturer Felten and Guilleaume. The other boundary of the square is formed by two new buildings designed by us. They form a common block edge and have identical storey heights, but are actually divided. With their exterior design, we borrow unmistakably from the timelessly solid architecture of the neighbourhood and especially from the material clinker brick - but at the same time create a modern, independent expression.

The northern building bears the name "Haus am Platz", the southern one is called "Patiohaus". We differentiate them, among other things, through the division of the façades, which is once horizontal and once vertical. The northern house also catches the eye with expressive projections and recesses and raised rows of bricks, while the southern building is visually reduced and soberly elegant. The interiors are similarly industrial as the façades - with untreated concrete and open installations, galvanised steel and solid end-wood floors. And with building lettering as wire lettering, we complete the connection to the surroundings with a historical reference.

The project name I/D Cologne stands for the identity and individuality of the neighbourhood. It is to be developed under the motto "Work. Live. Connect." for modern, innovative working environments. The "Haus am Platz" and the "Patiohaus" were created with the help of BIM. Read an extract from the interview in Build-Ing. 1 | 2022.

Build-Ing. 1 | 2022

How did RKW Architektur + come to BIM?

Ralf Wetzel

We see ourselves as early adopters. We have been familiar with the first manuals for the Revit planning software we use since 2008, and in 2015 we kicked off the BIM era with the full range of our core competencies in residential districts, retail and industrial construction.

Build-Ing. 1 | 2022

What is the current status in your office?


We have long since developed our own standards, trained more than 300 employees and set up a corresponding number of workstations. To date, we have already carried out over 100 model-based projects in various forms.

Build-Ing. 1 | 2022

What advantages did BIM have in the individual phases of the creation of I/D Cologne?


It begins with the modelling, i.e. at the end of the preliminary planning. Here we have already collected many essential parameters about the building, from the location and the properties to the first impressions of the façades. There are also partial models of the statics and the finishing. This allowed us to take a kind of X-ray view of the building and show, for example, exactly how many doors or how many GK walls (plasterboard walls) are included. The software also provides us with the door lists that architects often dread - we have around 120 parameters for each door.

Karsten Kus

This simply gave us an enormous overview very early on - also for the client. Rental units or functional areas could already be displayed and, if necessary, directly adjusted and optimised. We were very pleased to have all this at a glance and in a very high level of detail. At the same time, we also use it to cover our documentation tasks.

Build-Ing. 1 | 2022

So, planning with BIM tends to improve the result. But is it also more economical for the client?


I think BIM reduces the planning costs. Simply because certainty of planning can be achieved much earlier. If I, as an architect, build a model from which I can derive the plans and, if necessary, also the quantities, I don't have to do much afterwards. And everything is coherent.

Build-Ing. 1 | 2022

Can BIM, or the "digital twin" of the building, still be used after completion?


Absolutely. For example, there is the concept of FIM, or Facility Information Modelling, in which the building model is updated over the life of the building. This involves topics such as the maintenance and servicing of building services components.

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New Office Düsseldorf - BIM project without rigid rules

BIM and digitisation

On the site of the former Rheinbahn headquarters in Düsseldorf-Oberkassel, we have realised a modern building for a major international bank as the main tenant. The location at the start of Hansaallee could hardly be better: Located almost directly on Belsenplatz, it combines high visibility and good connections with the ideal infrastructure of the district.

Architecturally, the building adapts to the curvature of the avenue with a gentle sweep, and also transfers this to rounded corners, including curved window panes. The façade has a high proportion of glass and is structured by horizontal bands of light-coloured clinker brick. A special planning feature is the unusually large building depth of 16.50 meters requested by the user. This allowed us to realise particularly large central zones as communication areas, and the work areas were planned as open-space uses. Further specifics were a comprehensive security concept - also due to the user - which included, among other things, facilities bordering the outdoor space such as raised flower beds in the direction of Hansaallee. A large tenant restaurant on the ground floor with outdoor catering in the inner courtyard rounds off the facilities.

The building has been awarded the DGNB Gold certificate. With its dimensions of around 36,000 m² of above-ground and around 15,000 m² of below-ground floor space, it was one of the largest projects we created using the BIM methodology at the start of planning.

BIM and digitisation
BIM and digitisation
BIM and digitisation

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