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3 Questions: Daniel Monsén

Published: 2020-06-05

Daniel Monsén is today CEO of Monsén arkitekter, where he combines the nice things from the past with innovations and digital design. Being a senior BIM advisor and with a lifelong interest in data modeling and digital design, Daniel was a natural choice as we continue our interview series.

Why did you first get into BIM and digital design?

One thousand years ago it started, as I in my childhood bedroom played around with 3D models on my Amiga 500. When I then started studying to become an architect, it was back to the world of pen and paper and this was of course not at all what I wanted to do. I worked with data and wanted to continue to do so. So we started with CAD modells, even before the schools officially offered it.

I became an architect, the world´s best occupation as you know. I started an architectural firm and we worked a lot towards the chinese . There we wanted to a good way to communicate and we landed in BIM. I mean, door is ”door” in English and ”dörr” in Swedish. But in the 3D modell in BIM, door is simply door, no matter what language you use. When I later came back to Sweden, I started educating people around this; entire companies, support technicians, strategists, visionary speakers, you name it. We worked with Revit when it was just a fad. But we had a vision that the architects had to digitize, sooner rather than later, and that we should have datadriven design as our way forward. And today this is taken for granted and standard within the industry, so I guess it´s time to come up with new visions.

BIM is also a way of thinking, and it was something i learned during my military service. Its about being lazy but crafty. If something take long time in BIM, we are probably doing it wrong, and it can solved in a better faster way. If I have a skyskraper with 600 windows that needs to be changed, I rather it be done with a click of a button than manually by hand. You also have to ask yourself why you are using BIM, and when you know this you can start applying it to your organisation. But it should never by about the tools themselves.

After circling around the BIM-field we switched it around, lets become Men in Black, or MIB, we said. I did want to be an architect, and by then we could incorporate BIM into our designs. We became consultants in a more advisary role and as internet spread we started building cloudbased databases. With the internet, we suddenly got NASA-technology and could apply a super strenght to our models, which completely changed the game. But in the end I wanted to build houses, and that´s what I do today.

What do you think will happen when fire safety design becomes BIM integrated?

It will definitely be a better end product. In all other industries except houses, fire safety data and calculations are incorporated into the design. In construction, it is done before or after or during but in parallel processes and are then then translated into the design.

All these micro decisions are made without updated, exact data and since we rather be safe than sorry we tend to exaggerate. This means we often use more materials and get duller, less optimal solutions.

Compare to an airplane, where the data has to be exactly calculated to create a balance between safely crafted engines and planes that are light enough for lift off. Here, there are no surplus. What if we could to the same with buildings.

And of course the safety aspect. It is very difficult to work with, because it is so important. Its about life and death, and fire safety designers comes with a completely different perspective and need other types of processes. Even though it might just be about a push of a button, one has to understand the meaning of that button. One the other hand, when it comes to validating and calculating so much data, it´s better if a computer does it than a human.

Fire safety in BIM is highly welcome, it means that we will be able to construct building that are designed correctly. It is not the data we do have that´s interesting, it´s the data we don´t. By having that data and coordinate it, 1+1 would be greater than 2.

What do you see as the single most important benefit with BIM and digital design?

In a 5 year perspective or with a 100-years perspective? Let´s do both. In five years we have better buildings, better work environments, et cetera.

But in a hundred years we also have AI in BIM and things start to get real interesting. An AI does whatever it can to always be better, all day it tests what could be better. Every second it does a 1000 simulations of itself in an attempt to be better. In a 100 years we could have houses calculating its own fire safety systems and then tell us what´s the most optimal design. This is turn makes intelligent houses that communicate with other houses and learns from them. In cities we will then have complete neighbourhoods that will be completely optimized for fire safety measures. And if they´re not, the neighbourhood itself will tell the politicians what needs to be done. We already have plugins to our CAD software that makes automatic construction plans, based on thousands of test plans the AI has made. And all aspects are taken into account; social, envrionmental, economy, to name just a few. So this should be the best plan you could get. If this is where we are now, what will we get in a hundred years? Self-driving cars, self-building houses? It´s insane, isn´t?

But this means the sets of requierements has to change. BIM and cloud shared information need to be a part of the delivery. And this is changing, especially as new generations are entering the field and expect data driven deliveries. By demanding requirements to take BIM into account, we will move the sector to where it should be, instead of constantly lagging behind. I also like to add, to achieve this BIM has to be four things. Open, transparent, shareable and empowered. These are my core values regarding BIM design and its what always have to be on top of mind when we create our work processes.



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If you´re more curious on what Daniel is doing, click here.