Bryden Wood, the new route to Construction Future ! Interview of Jesus Perucho Alcalde, Digital Delivery Information Manager

Hi everyone, this week, we have the honor to receive a leading English Architectural and Engineering practice – Bryden Wood – and his BIM Leader, Jesus Perucho Alcalde. They really innovate in their practice since years and are pushing the boundaries and they’ve been designated to lead the digital transformation of the UK AEC Sector.

Jesus Perucho Alcalde
Associate (Digital Delivery Information Manager)
JPeruchoAlcalde@brydenwood.co.uk
+44 (0)20 7253 4772
100 Grays Inn Road, London, WC1X 8AL. United Kingdom.

Hello Jesus, could you first introduce yourself and tell us about your background? And what led you to AEC in your studies?

Hello Emmanuel. Thank you for your invitation.

I started studying fine Arts in Madrid. I was doing well and I enjoyed it, though  my father , Dr. Jesus Perucho Lizcano, who is architect and was also teaching at the architecture school, invited me to try architecture to see If I liked it. Now I see it is the best thing I could have done.  I graduated in architecture in 2003 in ETSAM, Madrid. I also studied one year High Rise studies in Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago in 2000 and studied an  MBA in 2012.

Were you already passionate  about new technologies when you were studying or did this happen while you entered some companies?

Since I was studying I also got the influence of my father who, at that time, 20 years ago , was already testing BIM software. I had my own student license for it. But it was later on, when working as an architect at my own practice, that I was using ArchiCAD for speeding my drawing production. Later in 2008, I was working in a German Company in Dubai, and learnt Autodesk Revit. That was a game changer for me. In 2009 I opened a Revit Training Center in Madrid, 1Auno Academia, where I was teaching Revit to architects and students. Since then, I enjoyed always to discover new things about how the technology can help the design and construction process. In 2014, I came to London and I joined Foster + Partners as a BIM Coordinator and I was acting as BIM Manager for the NAICM, Nuevo Aeropuerto Internacional de Mexico, where we set up all the BIM strategy , modelled the architectural models of all buildings and coordinated all the contractors’ BIM models. It had more than 750.000 sqm with a complex geometry, it was done entirely in BIM, (and in Rhino 3D and Grasshopper for the geometry of the roof and a mix of other tools).

This project was very challenging , for sure it will be the biggest project I’ll ever do. 

Now, could you tell us a bit more about Bryden Wood (history, location, employees, etc.)? What are the main Industries you cover and what are your fields of expertise?

Bryden Wood started around 25 years ago, as an Architecture Office and later incorporated Structural and MEP engineers. Since the very beginning, it has been very focused in Technology. A key point for the founders, Mark Bryden and Martin Wood, was to find new ways of working and how to transform the industry, like Systemisation, Design for Manufacturing and Construction Offsite among others.

At the moment, all these areas are extensively covered as areas of expertise, as services provided, on top of Integrated Design, (Architectural and all Engineering Design), BIM, Data Analytics, Design of Asset Optimization, DfMA Design for Manufacturing and Assembly, Systemisation, Platforms, automating architectural and Engineering design and construction processes and Chip Thinking.

You cover both architecture and engineering, correct? What is the split in terms of employees industries coverage?

Yes we do both architecture and engineering: Structural, MEP and Civil engineering.

There are teams for each discipline. So all the disciplines can be done in house with internal teams, so it is much easier for communication and coordination between discipline teams.

You work both on Infrastructure and Building Projects? How big the difference is in terms of working in BIM on such kind of projects?

There are no big differences. Both kind of projects have geometry and information. Both need a similar approach in the design stage. It would be a difference in scale, as an example. But if the scale is a key element that you can control with the level of detail. If you are creating a tool applicable all countrywide, to the all highways of England as an example, you can’t do from the beginning a very detailed BIM model. You need to use very lightweight and fast tools, you need to work with lines, and information only, not heavy models. And when you have optimized the design, then you can do more precise BIM model of parts of it. 

How do you differentiate versus your competitors? What is your key differentiators?

To be brief, I would say it is the approach to the technology. BIM is a state of mind, not a software.

Understanding technology as the help to achieve what you are imagining. That is why our team is called Creative Technologies. You all have the technology there, at the reach of tour hand. Just be creative with it.

We know you’re big Expert of prefabrication, DFMA and Industrialized construction. What could you tell us about that?

There is an extended experience in Bryden Wood about Design for Manufacturing and Assembly. We have been government advisors in order to define the standards of the industry about DFMA in the UK with the creation of one document called « Platforms, Bridging the gap between construction and manufacturing ». There is a deep culture of helping the construction sector, making more efficient in time and cost the construction processes with digital processes and workflows, manufacturing offsite and assembling onsite. We have developed several projects and built in London, UK, Russia and Singapore as an example.

What are the key projects your company have been working on or is currently working on?

Just to name few of them: Crossrail stations in London,  the creation of a Digital web platform for Modular housing and modular schools in London based on Big Data, and the creation and development of an automated engineering platform called REM for Highways England.

Why is BIM so important for your company?

BIM is the daily use process for all projects.

I mean, everything is designed directly in 3D with Revit, or other tools, with information attached following a process.

BIM is the connection and interaction of all the tools. BIM is the environment, the glue that connects all, the essence, it is not a modelling software.

What is your role at Bryden Wood? Could you explain us your responsibilities and daily tasks?

My role is called Digital Delivery Information Manager.

My responsibilities are all the BIM related technology and workflows office wide (London , St Albans, Barcelona and Singapore) and disciplines wide (Architecture, Structure, MEP). 

My daily tasks run from helping in some projects, like REM 2.0 (Highways) , setting up a coherent BIM Strategy and processes like in old War office project in London, define a strategy for implementing a big number of FM Parameters into a project that will be a sample to follow for many Data Centers in Europe of the same Client, making sure we are implementing our own BIM strategy and standards in projects, modelling best practices, or quality analysis auditing process of models to be issued to client , also making sure that we are using the state of the art tools and software available in the market.

Also, part of my role is external facing in the AEC industry in Spain, Mexico and other European countries.

As a BIM Leader/Manager, are you mainly managing people or are you also involved in using technologies?

Basically, I am managing technologies, the BIM technologies to be precise. I have to be aware of the industry state-of-the-art , and how the things  are being done in the practice. For that, there is a team of very experienced BIM Managers by discipline: Mohamed Ellithy for Structure, Jacob Johnson for Architecture, and Robert Attwell for MEP.

What are the main BIM technologies Bryden Woods use?

As an authoring tool we use mainly  Autodesk Revit. But as you know BIM is not about software, it is about integration, about finding the best tool for each thing. So we use a lot Rhino and Grasshopper, also Dynamo for Revit, Autodesk Navisworks, but also manufacturing software for DfMA, QGIS, Tableau, and many other software and plugins. We create our own tools if we need to. Here resides most of the power of our Team Creative Technologies.

Back in the years, In your opinion, which BIM technology has been a key disruptor for the AEC Sector?

Any of the Authoring tools in the market has been very disruptive at their moment of appearance, like Autodesk Revit. Many projects internationally at the moment are really taking advantage of using this tools.  Before BIM , many other tools had to be created manually in order to generate complex things, as an example a script in Microsoft Excel could generate the 3D coordinates of points to create a complex geometry, like the famous project St, Mary Axe, The Gherkin in London by Norman Foster.

Generative Design, AI, Robotics, DFMA, Computational Design, Reality Capture. What are the trends you’re involved in and practicing?

About generative design, we are applying optimization tools to solve geometric problems based on genetic algorithms (GA).

Using a parametric model, defined by geometric and structural variables, we define an optimization function in order to  maximize/minimize a specific value. Using GA, we automatically combine data and generate new solutions, recording the best for future design. This process has been applied to various projects to maximize the efficiency on buildings in site.

We have been testing the Beta version of Project Refinery of Autodesk, and also other plugins for Grasshopper for GA.

Regarding AI, we are doing some machine learning studies.

In the Robotics team of Creative Technologies, we investigate new ways of implementing automation and robotics in the construction of large-scale architectural projects, focusing on the creation of seamless workflows that connect design and robotic fabrication. We develop data-driven design and robotic programming tools, aiming to facilitate the integration of advanced fabrication technologies in Architecture and Construction.

DFMA is one of our key skills, as I said before.

Computational Design in all its forms is deeply established in the practice for the daily use in projects, creating customized scripts in Dynamo for Revit for complex geometry, data extraction, and in Grasshopper for Rhino, for many uses, from geometry modification, structural design, energy analysis, generative design, data analysis and extraction and design optimization. 

About Reality Capture, we do also 3D scanning of existing buildings in order to create precise BIM models from existing assets for our clients.

Do you also work on modular construction? If yes, could you please give us some examples?

Yes. It is very connected with DFMA. We develop projects for our clients in order to systemise parts or the full building so it can be manufactured offsite. For that, the building and parts had to be modular, repetitive, standardized, the transportation modules has to fit in the dimensions of a trailer, and many other rules. We have developed some very detailed projects from the strategy to the fabrication models for housing and schools in order to be implemented UK wide.

What are the difficulties related to leading the BIM and digital transformation of such a company?

Well, the Digital transformation in the company is being lead by Phil Langley, Board Director and responsible for the Creative Technologies Team which I belong to. You should ask him. I am responsible for the BIM side only, which at the end of the day is connection with other tools as well, so keeping in touch and coordinating with all members of the team is crucial.  It is very challenging for me and I am learning a lot from my colleagues of the team.   

Could you give us an example of the most exciting projects you’ve been working on and the innovating approaches that you’ve been using?

At Bryden Wood, I am participating in technologically amazing projects like the one called GLA: It is a web based platform running under a gaming engine. It is a generative design tools that compiles on one side the Big Data analytics of city of London Data for residential housing at all levels: city, neighbourhood, plot, apartment and room.  It also complies with the building rules.

With this input and the manual selection on the web tool of a plot and a shape , you can create with sliders for parameters, your own draft of a building, and will  assign automatically types of apartments of 1, 2, 3 or 4 Bedrooms following the rules obtained by Big Data.  Also it will tell you if it is possible to be manufactured with a report and also it will export a BIM model for the design. This tool has been developed for the London Housing Authority and it will be free for users via web. 

Also the REM (Rapid Engineering Modelling) tool developed for SMP Smart Motorways Programme of Highways England is a really game changer in the industry. This is also a rules engine that acquires all the information of the highways network, analysis it topographically and environmentally, optimizes it, and provides the optimal design for signals location, bridges, retaining walls and a fully optimized design of the whole motorway network. This information is living in a database and it can be accessed from dashboards, images, maps, and can be navigated in Virtual Reality.

This is just to name two, but there are more amazing projects like this.

Coming from Spain, how do you see the difference between South Europe and Great Britain? More advanced and leading in the UK? And why?

 Yes, I would say that in UK the market is more mature, the industry of BIM, DfMA, digitization in general is more established. I think there are many reasons for that. One of them is the culture in general itself, more practical in the UK and proactive looking for efficiency. This made the UK Government start the UK BIM Task Group in 2011 mandating all public projects to be in BIM Level 2 by 2016. In other countries like Spain, this is going far behind, but is getting there now days.

Are Spanish Students in AEC well trained and prepared for this revolution?

Before, it was difficult to find good BIM training (as I told you I used to have myself a BIM training school 10 years ago in Madrid). Fortunately now it is more easy to find a good BIM training, many private and public schools and architects associations are offering good quality training. I Just hope it does not only stays in BIM, but continues further in all aspects of Digital Technology.

Do you think the BIM Mandate was a good think for UK and would you recommend it for other countries like France to push the Industry?

Absolutely, the push to this industry has to come from the government in order to be fully successful.  If not, the industry and the authorities will be disconnected, there will be big gaps in what companies are offering, the academic sector, and there will be no standards, rules or a common ground for BIM. French AEC Industry would highly benefit from it if the French Government would implement a BIM Mandate to push the AEC Industry.

Your Director has been recently appointed to lead the transformation of the Construction Industry for the UK Government, congratulations. This is a real recognition on the market. How are you going to lead these efforts?

Yes, Jaimie Johnston, has been appointed Design Lead of a new ‘Transforming Construction Alliance’ which won a bid for £72m funding to transform the way public buildings are designed, manufactured, integrated and connected in the UK. The work will focus on adopting a ‘platform approach’ to design and construction now that the UK government has fully adopted our suggestions for this. We’ll be deploying a team of architects and engineers to work on the project this year. 

On your side, are you still designing projects or are you mainly driving technology innovation and adoption at Bryden Wood? 

I am only in the technology side at the moment…but I am helping projects also and I am looking forward to have a more active role in the design phase as well… We are both architects, right? I think we all enjoy with that, isn’t it? 

Are you mainly doing projects in the UK or also abroad? What are your plans to develop your activities in France?

Mainly in the UK. But we do have some projects done in Singapore for GSK, in Russia and in Hong-Kong. Soon, we will have some in Spain and I hope, also in France.

Are there any specific things about your company that you would like to share with our French Readers?

We are here to help companies achieving amazing projects, so, if you have any ideas, bring us on board! Thank you!

Dear Jesus, thanks a lot for your exciting interview. Keep up in amazing us with your great Company.

Best,

-emmanuel

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