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Case Study: Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg “Willy Brandt“

Published: 2020-11-10

There are some important milestones in history that make for excellent learning opportunities. A very expensive lesson is the Berlin Brandenburg International Airport which finally opened up it´s door in October 2020.

Baudesaster. Berlin's new airport (BER) is perhaps the largest failed construction project in Europe during the 2000s. The opening was planned for 2011, but after constant problems and postponed inaugurations, the official opening didn´t happened until the other day, October 31st. In the middle of a pandemic no less.

For a mega-project like this, the problem was to coordinate and ensure that all technical requirements were fulfilled. It turned out that there was no adequate plan for implementation and that the information management had major shortcomings. Requirements, specifications and documentation were lacking and it was the major shortcomings in fire protection that became the last straw. And you do not compromise on life safety. The failure became a lesson that marked the start of a major national BIM initiative in Germany.

“At BER, construction planning was started without actually having an execution plan” Christian Ahrendt, VP for The German Federal Court of Auditors

A few years later, we now see that Germany is a driving force in the development of openBIM. The launch of the strategic Road Map for BIM for the transport infrastructure sector in Germany by the Federal Ministry for Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) back in 2015 was one important first step. This Road Map has defined a minimum criteria for a first maturity level, called Performance Level 1, when measuring BIM use. Performance Level 1 includes seamless data exchange between parties during all phases and will function as a foundation as the development progresses.

It is impressive how the failed Berlin airport project became a big learning opportunity. It will be interesting to see where these developments and investments will lead. While it is good to learn from your mistakes, we shouldn’t wait for mistakes in order to increase the pace of digitalization in the construction sector.

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From one learning opportunity to another, please don´t hesitate to reach out to us at Bimfire. We are eager to talk to you about how you can learn more about digitized fire safety design. You can also talk to our partners.