Context 166 - November 2020

44 C O N T E X T 1 6 6 : N O V E M B E R 2 0 2 0 INGVAL MAXWELL The new digital kids on the block The diversity of the heritage presents the field of building conservation with challenges for building information modelling and the enormous range of associated digital developments. The regional diversity of the built heritage across the UK is considerable, with a multiplic- ity of materials, building techniques and styles. This complexity is further compounded by the fact that many pre-1919 buildings have been frequently adjusted and altered to accom- modate different needs and requirements. The wide variation in architectural form and detail adds to the challenge of understanding the structures to make appropriate decisions about their future. The is diversity both externally and internally, whether it be in the masonry, internal plasterwork or the application of internal deco- ration.Thereby lies the challenge in the adoption of BIM (building information modelling) and associated digital developments. The UK’s decision to move BIM Level 2 to an international standard goes back to the 2011 Report for the Government Construction Client Group: BIM strategy paper . While the report encouraged a greater adoption of BIM, it recognised that it would become disruptive and ‘game changing’ in the traditional ways of working. With the BIM process also crossing borders, a UK consensus emerged that such a globalisation would inevitably trigger the need for international norms and standards. This led to the creation of BS EN ISO 19650, with Parts 1 and 2 published in January 20191. BS EN ISO 19650 Part 1 outlines the con- cepts and principles and provides recommenda- tions on how to manage building information. BS EN ISO 19650 Part 2 supplies informa- tion management requirements in the delivery phase of assets. It is for those involved in the procurement, design, construction and/or com- missioning of both assets, and those involved in delivering asset management activities, including operations and maintenance. With maintenance being identified in this way, there is a clear implication that ISO 19650 Part 2 should be appropriate for use in caring for the existing built heritage. It may be relevant to consider this within the context of BS 7913:2013 Guide to the conservation of historic buildings when setting conservation policy, management strat- egy and procedures. But that link is still missing. The UK construction industry contributes nearly £90 billion to the national economy (accounting for 6.7 per cent). It hires as many as 2.9 million workers, roughly 10 per cent of the workforce.Yet despite its clear importance to the UK (and indeed to the global economy, where it contributes $8.5 trillion a year), the industry has still to undergo any significant digitisation2. The recent digitisation index from the McKinsey Global Institute nearly ranks the industry as the least digitised of all, sitting just above agriculture and hunting. Although it also recognises (June 2019) that the UK is one of Europe’s leaders in artificial intelligence, McKinsey argues that it needs to build upon its strengths and tackle its weaknesses³. The Interreg Europe report Digital Solutions in the Field of Cultural Heritage: a policy brief from the policy landing platform on environment and resource efficiency (August 2018) suggests that the development and implementation of digitisation strategies for cultural heritage are a signifi- cant challenge. The report warns that a limited knowledge and understanding of digitisation benefits has led to a low level of uptake. In a move to address this, the report states: ‘The objective of this policy brief is to describe the different opportunities created through digital technologies for the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage… and [to] pre- sent inspiring good practices stemming from the Interreg Europe projects... [where] the focus… is on cultural heritage.’ But the report also acknowledges that ‘At the same time, continuous disappearance of traditional skills and crafts which are part of the intangible cultural heritage is a key problem in the heritage sector.’ While recognising the loss of traditional skills and crafts, the report does not focus on how these emerging technologies can be beneficially integrated with the actual vocational craft train- ing and educational requirements of the building Blockchain will create the ability to undertake secure internet transactions without intermediaries (Image: deavmi, Wikimedia) References 1 https://bimportal. scottishfuturestrust. 2 3 media/McKinsey/ Featured%20 Insights/Artificial%20 Intelligence/ Artificial%20 intelligence%20in%20 the%20United%20 Kingdom%20 Prospects%20and%20 challenges/Artificial- intelligence-in-the- United-Kingdom-VF2. ashx