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Exploring China’s BIM Landscape: Navigating Challenges & Fostering Collaboration


In a globalised world, collaboration and knowledge exchange are vital for the advancement of Building Information Modelling (BIM) technologies and methodologies. BIMBox’s recent trip to China exemplifies this spirit of global collaboration and knowledge sharing. The journey, spanning several days, involved engaging with key players in China’s BIM landscape as part of the Reconmatic project, understanding their approaches, and contributing insights from the BIMBox’s expertise and more broadly the UK’s rich BIM journey.

Exploring China's BIM Landscape: Navigating Challenges & Fostering Collaboration

BIM in China – Current Landscape

  1. Focus on 3D Modelling and Clash Detection

Currently, China’s BIM landscape primarily revolves around 3D modelling and clash detection. However, a noteworthy aspect is the retrospective nature of these activities. Most projects are still designed in 2D initially, with 3D modelling and clash detection applied later in the process.

  1. Material & Product Database and Innovation

Innovation in BIM in China is largely driven by educational institutions contributing a significant portion of research and development. One standout initiative is the State-funded construction product and material database developed by BIMSop, in this case, the Chinese take a different approach to innovation from that of Europe. This State-funded initiative is regarded as a single source of truth, avoiding competition between other bodies to implement variations of the same, allowing for standardisation of material and product templates across the region.

  1. Government-Led Approach and Standards Development

China’s BIM landscape reflects a top-down approach from the government, with the Chinese Association of Building Research (CABR) playing a pivotal role. CABR collaborates with the government to develop and write BIM standards, maintaining a similar trajectory to the global norm, particularly ISO 19650.

Key Engagements 

Day 1

Our team’s trip kicked off with an engaging session with Jingjiang Liu from the CABR. Their discourse explored the intricacies of the main drivers and challenges shaping the implementation of BIM in the UK.  Following this our team met with the China Association of Circular Economy (CACE). CACE, an advisory and certification board, providing recommendations on circular economy practices, BIM standards, and waste reduction in construction and demolition.

Their journey continued when they met with representatives from Beijing Guangyan Engineering Design and Research Institute and Beijing General Municipal Engineering Design and Research Institute (BMEDI), who are involved in designing standardized mechanisms for metro stations in over 40 cities across China.

Day 2

Le Cao, the Director of the Chinese Association of Building Research (CABR) BIM Centre hosted a comprehensive tour of their facility, offering insights into their operations, software development and ongoing projects. Presentations covered an introduction to BIM software, BIMBase, and other technological advancements, showcasing the strides China has taken in BIM.

BIMBox reciprocated by presenting the evolution of UK BIM standards and services, sparking interest in As-Built Reality Capture. The audience expressed a particular focus on Laser Scanning and a drone-based reality capture initiative, emphasising the need for comprehensive building data in light of worldwide building safety concerns.

Day 3

The visit culminated at the Supply Chain International Expo, where BIMBox presented alongside ten others on innovation around BIM and sustainability. Special thanks are extended to Arcas & Callisto for the facilitation of the trip and the CABR for their invitation, underscoring the collaborative nature of the trip.

China’s BIM landscape is in a dynamic state of evolution, with both promising developments and inherent challenges. Much like the UK, BIM adoptions are largely driven by government initiatives, and thus China’s trajectory is significantly influenced by government policies and aims.

  1. BIM Standards and Government Influence

China’s commitment to BIM standards is evident through its top-down approach, led by organizations like CABR. The government’s active role, particularly through the 2015 BIM policy aims towards widespread adoption of BIM practices, especially in state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

  1. Integration with Technologies

Research insights reveal a growing integration of BIM with various technologies, including GIS, 3D laser scanning, and VR. This multifaceted approach showcases China’s commitment to enhancing BIM applications through technological integration.

  1. Challenges and Opportunities

Despite the positive trajectory, challenges persist, especially in SOEs where BIM adoption might be more policy-driven than rooted in internal innovation. Disparities in adoption rates across cities, local policies, and the readiness of BIM teams present hurdles.

Additionally, a lot of companies still do retrospective 3D modelling relying on 2D processes. This is due to available resource pools and skill shortages in BIM-associated training.

BIMBox’s journey to China was more than a fact-finding mission; it was a testament to the global collaboration needed to propel BIM forward. From BIM standards development to innovative approaches to reality capture, China’s BIM landscape is evolving, with BIMBox playing a role in the exchange of ideas and practices. As we look towards the future, these collaborative efforts will undoubtedly contribute to the global advancement of Building Information Modelling.