BILT EUR Speaker Spotlight : Alaa El Kabbany

This week, we interviewed BILT Europe Speaker, Alaa El Kabbany from Dar Al Handasah part of DAR Group. Alaa is an Architect/BIM Specialist working in Egypt, with a unique perspective on BIM and implementing BIM within Egypt. She tells us of the problems she faces with BIM implementation and her session which she will be presenting entitled, Information Delivery Cycle between Standards and Practice” which is focused around the 6 stages of the Information Delivery Cycle and its Practice in the AEC industry, including the tools to achieve the smooth implementation of the cycle and the implications of using or breaking the cycle during the projects’ delivery. Without further ado, we present Alaa El Kabbany,

  1. Who are you – tell us what you really do and help us to get to know you a little bit better (I.e. what got you excited last Wednesday?)

I am an Egyptian Architect working as an “Architect/BIM Specialist” at “Dar Al Handasah part of Dar Group. DAR is a multinational organization in the AEC industry, that operates in 40 offices across the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Our 5 principal design centers are located in Beirut, Cairo, London, Pune, and Amman.

I am interested in learning and am searching to develop my skills, with BIM being my field of interest for 8 years now. I’ve completed the Certificate of Building Information Modeling-Project Management from the UK-Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors [RICS]. I’m also a Certified Revit professional; 2013, 2015 and an Autodesk certified instructor [ACI] in 2017.

Currently, I am one of DAR’s BIM Unit team Members. The BIM Unit in Dar is the Unit responsible for the proper implementation of BIM processes and methodologies on current projects, and facilitating all relevant requirements. My job focuses on tasks such as; Managing BIM processes on projects; Conducting BIM related meetings, training, presentations and workshops to “Raise awareness & upskill”; Communicate with technology developers for technology upgrading and keeping up with the Industry;  BIM Development for standards, workflows, applications, R&D….etc. This is in addition to all BIM support required by managers and project teams, including troubleshooting on projects when required.

I gained BIM implementation experience through working on mega projects such as Al-Jouf Airport, Al-Qassim Airport, King Khaled Bin Abd El Aziz Prototypes, Mecca Metro Stations, Dubai RIU Resort, Oman Resort and others.

Working on BIM projects as a BIM specialist has provided me with skills, awareness and experiences through different BIM uses and industry practices.

 

  1. What’s interesting to you outside of your work?

Outside work, I love anything colorful, especially handicrafts. I love to watch art and crafts and sketching when I have the time. I also love to buy drawing materials (which I have a lot of by the way 🙂 )  and enjoy going for Tabata workouts and receiving positive energy!

Currently, I am working on my cooking skills, which I am teaching myself through YouTube videos! If you have a grill you have to try grilled cheese on top of grilled pineapple slices ;-)

 

  1. What is interesting about what you do (what motivates you at both work and play)?

  • Reaching solutions that facilitate the daily work of my users is a motivation in any development and exploring.
  • Catching Up on world development all the time is a continual motivation.
  • Adding to my package of skills and knowledge is a motivation for me personally.

I like my work and BIM is my focus. To master BIM you need to understand BIM, explore technology and enhance skills. I have been through a BIM energy analysis experience exploring through Revit-Insight & previously green building studio, I like to explore BIM rendering as well and have tested Revit VRAY, as well as working with BIM Collaboration platforms like Revizto and Kallock Fuzor, and then BIM virtual reality having worked with VR Tours production, VR walkthroughs …..etc

I am interested in the future of Virtual Reality in AEC as well as developing my self-knowledge and skills in BIM as a prime focus.

Virtual Reality is a good addition for BIM’s primary objective of enhancing understanding.

 

  1. Our theme this year is ‘Death of Disciplinary Silos and Birth of Integrated Industries’ – what does that mean to you? Is BIM and digitization breaking down old borders and hierarchies? Here is a link to the blog post if you have not read it (and would like to!).

This recalls at once the “BIM Level 3” concept to my mind.

**Real-time collaboration Environment “cloud-based”

**Federated Work instead of integrated

**Paperless Project Data

**Higher coordination value and data efficiency

Aside from discussing BIM level 3, Let’s say that this is exactly what the industry is in need of, in spite of real on-ground challenges.

Death of disciplinary silos and Birth of Integrated Industries; means to me some defined meanings and considerations, let’s number them;

  1. Higher project coordination, thus higher Quality Control & Lower Project conflicts, which results in lower onsite discrepancies and costs
  2. Achieving a real definition of BIM that is oriented around the Common Data Environment workflow rather than the old CAD mind and the anarchic data environment
  3. Simplifying data extraction between project disciplines, therefore motivating 4D to 7D BIM practice
  4. Demand for changing people’s mindset from the isolated silos work per trade & typical hardcopy paper coordination and Review to Real-Time digital collaboration & problem solving
  5. Demand for Software Technology development and Obstacles demolition in order to meet the new concept requirements
  6. Demand for Hardware Technology development so that we have PCs & Graphic Cards available that are capable of the new software & workload demands with smooth progress
  7. Demand for the integrated work BIM regulations to guarantee robust and smooth process
  8. Motivating the extraction of “Project information Model & Asset Information Models” making PIM + AIM easier to access and use

For me, I believe one of the top obstacles now is the hardware technology capability to fulfil the target.

 

  1. Tell us a little about your session – what was the motivation behind it and why should delegates attend?

My session is titled “Information Delivery Cycle between Standards and Practice”. BIM Level 2 defines what, when & how information should be created, shared and managed. This assures the validity of project information extraction at any time. Accordingly, proper decisions would be easily made through the whole lifecycle of the project confidently. To achieve this “The information Delivery Cycle” was established and endorsed through the UK BIM standard documents “PAS1192-2, PAS 1192-3,…”. The Project Delivery Cycle is responsible for managing the project’s information throughout the whole project stages. The presentation will be focused around the 6 stages of the Information Delivery Cycle and its Practice in the AEC industry, including the tools to achieve the smooth implementation of the cycle and the implications of using or breaking the cycle during the projects’ delivery.

The motivation behind my session clearly appeared after finishing my online studies about BIM-Project management, feeling the importance of the “I” “Information” in the Project life cycle, and completing my vision towards its role in the BIM AEC industry.

 

  1. What do you find most challenging when applying the Information Delivery Cycle established by the UK BIM standards? Do you think it’s not practical for small-scale projects?

A Client’s lack of awareness of BIM requirements forms a big challenge in attempting to apply the cycle and get the most benefit of it. Next is assuring a client’s flexibility to adopt it, define what their BIM objectives are, and how they want to utilize their PIMs or AIMs, as well as knowing their new roles and responsibilities.

Also, lack of awareness and people’s resistance is considered another big obstacle. Turning to the client once again, a commonly faced issue is the client’s record of BIM adoption in the middle of the project’s lifecycle rather than from the beginning phase – which means in the middle of the expected cycle – leading to loss of previous stage data management; leading to the requirement of a new adaptation for the Information Cycle for the rest of the project’s following stages. This makes implementation much harder and loses more time and cost instead of saving. Also, this means that the adoption may come after the design team selection has already taken place so that the criteria for selection hasn’t included the proper BIM requirements and capabilities. So, briefly, I think clients should pay for upfront BIM services before the project’s cycle takes place and allow for more time to do this, as well as know more about their gained benefits from this.

I think maybe it is required to have developed protocols for the small-scale projects in particular. Also, delivering a small scale project through standard protocols may be beneficial to be used as the Firm’s template, However, I find the practical part is the idea to use them as case study references for the firm’s methodologies.

 

  1. You’re an Architect and BIM Specialist at Dar Al-Handasah, which is part of the multinational Dar group. Although you’re integrated in a multinational organization, you’re working in Egypt and adopting the UK BIM standards at your practice. Why did you choose these standards? Do you collaborate with other companies there using the same processes?

Actually starting from 2012 DAR initiated its own customized  BIM Standards and workflows in combination between Autodesk and DarBIM unit, not depending on UK standards only.  In around 2014 DAR started to follow UK-BIM Standards on projects that urged the client’s requests, which mainly concentrated with Qatar projects, and though it formed the mega BIM projects collaboration between multinational companies. Nevertheless, DAR has a lot of other clients’ BIM projects experience following the whole BIM standards and methodologies.

In my point of view, the UK BIM standards are from the first introduced rigid BIM standards. Consequently, UK BIM standards are considered now one of the most robust standards to use as well as comprehensive enough thanks to the continuous development. The standards in my point of view are practical and flexible to suit different projects types, scales, clients requirements, zones…. etc, therefore can be easily adopted and customized as per requirements. The last thing about it is the easy industry language which makes it ok to be understood with less effort.

And Yes, DAR collaborated with many other companies that adopt UK standards to produce a lot of different scale BIM projects in different zones in the Middle East.

 

  1. How is the BIM adoption in Egypt and how do you see it for the coming years?

BIM implementation has not yet been a complete process in Egypt. The Egyptian government hasn’t yet adopted BIM implementation on either governmental project scale nor the individual scale. Actually, there is as yet no unified BIM standards in Egypt, nor specific obligations to the practice in the AEC industry. Also, confusion in the BIM definition and application is dominant till now with a low general awareness of BIM implementation strategies & requirements.

BIM showed up in Egypt through the individual companies’ adoption of Revit starting around 2007. It was just all about Revit and overcoming the challenges of its adoption. in 2011, private efforts to continue the development of BIM requirements and trials began to manifest throughout the industry.

From sample surveys that have taken place within most of the large AEC firms found in Egypt in 2011, results showed that BIM non-adoption was apparent due to reasons like;

  1. There is No Client Requirement to use.
  2. I don’t know similar experience around to try.
  3. I am interested to know more but don’t have the know-how to implement.

However, the Housing and Building National Research Center” in Egypt is expected to be developing the first National BIM standards that are supposed to be published in the next couple of years.

As a brief to the image, you can say that all BIM initiations in Egypt start from individuals and private AEC firms motivations, or for the second reason which is the client requirement, but not spread in all AEC offices, also it has not been recommended, guided or mandated from the Government, in spite that it is on its way to kick off with the first initiation.

Best Practices of BIM in Egypt could be presented in the coordination and authoring phase. Most of the large BIM projects’ clients in the Egyptian industry are in the neighboring Arab countries. Some of those countries have continuous demand to extend airports, metro stations, infrastructure even whole new cities just like Qatar for its chance to be hosting the 2022 World Cup. The Egyptian AEC BIM industry had the opportunity for sharing and delivering a lot of those mega projects with the variance of the clients’ BIM requirements and BIM contractors’ demands on BIM delivery. Some of those clients especially like Qatar urge for the BIM coordination guarantee –raising the demands and restricting to standards– the matter that lets the Egyptian portfolio holds a good example for best practices in the BIM coordination phase.

BIM Awareness and adoption in AEC projects has been rapidly increasing in the last 7 years in Egypt. For the coming years, it’s obviously expected that the BIM adoption, awareness campaigns and implementation will rapidly develop.

  1. What do you enjoy most about BILT?

  • Presenting a Middle East experience with a European mindset as a way of identifying how much both industries know each other, secondly, identifying differences and mixing benefits.
  • Hearing about the expectations of industry
  • Knowing more from European practices.
  • The wide network of the industry’s leaders and experts in one place sharing new ideas and thoughts.
  • It is not a small event, however, BILT or RTC previously has its good reputation to be set in my Agenda to attend & share.

What actually motivates me more, and makes me more interested after my engagement, is the event’s selection of different types of speakers professionally and from different nationalities in different world zones. I really admired the supportive webinars that RTC run to help first time BILT speakers..!!

 

  1. Have you ever been to Ljubljana? If yes, what tips do you have? If not, what are you looking forward to –  and maybe give us one thing you would like a tip on 🙂

I’ve never been to Ljubljana, nor Europe at all. I’m very excited about this visit since the first picture I’ve seen for the country was full of colors and beautiful nature.

The most exciting thing for me is that Europe has always been on my agenda as a favourite destination. Besides, It will be close to my first wedding anniversary I so can make the trip with my spouse, through an interesting event related to my job that I am always feeling great doing.

So, short to say, work that I love, spouse & fav trip; the 3 blend to make a nice October event as I hope Insha’Allah 🙂

 

Alaa is speaking on Saturday the 13th of October, Day 3 of BILT Europe.

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