BIM in Bulgaria: an interview with Associate Professor Boyan Georgiev

For many years, Associate Professor Boyan Georgiev has been lecturing in the Department of Architecture of the University of Architecture Civil Engineering and Geodesy. His professional interests concern primarily the application of information technologies in architecture, the use of CAD systems in the architectural design and the preservation of the European architectural heritage. In his line of work, he has been giving consultations for proper application of CAD systems in the architectural design to companies from Bulgaria, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Zimbabwe. He is also the author of several user manuals for Autocad and Revit.

What do people know about BIM in Bulgaria?

BIM is a rather unknown topic in Bulgaria. We are yet to see a professional community of BIM advocates in here – the people needed to promote the benefits of BIM and educate the public. The BIM revolution hasn’t started yet but I hope that events such as this one

[we are at the Second Scientific-Applied Conference with International Participation “Project management in Construction“] can trigger more public interest towards all matters of BIM in Bulgaria. It is important to say, however, that apart from the UK where BIM Level 2 is about to become mandatory for all public sector buildings, the BIM movement is still at an early stage in mainland Europe. For example, the European Architect’s Council has only just recently set up a BIM task group, addressing these matters. For the greater part of Europe, the exciting times of BIM are yet to come.

You are one of the few people who lecture about BIM in Bulgaria. Is it correct to say that you are a BIM advocate?

Yes, you can say that. As a university lecturer, it is my calling to help students acquire new knowledge and skills. That is why I have taken the initiative to go beyond just teaching them how to use Revit and into a more in-depth level. This level concerns the complex character of the information used in all the stages of a building’s life cycle. In the Bulgarian academic circles BIM is still a great innovation – even though I have been writing about efficient information exchange and collaboration in construction for many years I have only recently started using BIM as a framework.

It is only natural that the BIM movement would be first taken up by academia, but are there other people that you have come across who have started the BIM fire in Bulgaria?

I am amazed and pleasantly surprised that companies like Cobuilder Bulgaria and Nemetschek have started to educate and inform the Bulgarian industry about BIM rather than advertising their products.

Is there general interest in BIM in Bulgaria?

Undoubtedly, there is interest in Bulgaria. Not so long ago I was contacted by a MEP engineer – a true enthusiast who wants to work on the introduction of BIM in Bulgaria. He shared that he was working for international companies and he is up to date with the industrial developments worldwide. There are also many of my architect colleagues who often call me to ask me what BIM is. Can you explain BIM within a phone call? I try nonetheless, getting in great detail, I explain, but what I emphasize the most is that BIM is not a software product but a process that enhances the collaboration between all the members of the supply chain.

What do you think is the architect’s role in the BIM process?

If the integration of the accurate product information within a building project is the end point of BIM, the 3D model lies in the beginning of BIM. Historically, the architects have played a major role in the development of the BIM idea. Today, most architects use BIM software products, but they are using them just to draw their models – they do not utilize the full benefits of BIM. This is just like having an amphibian car and using it as a normal vehicle. Yes, architects start the 3D model part of BIM, but if it is not populated with information by the structural and mechanical engineers and the model is not used by the contractor and the owner, BIM loses its purpose.

Why do you think Bulgarian and even European architects are reluctant to ‘go’ BIM?

The implementation and consistent use of BIM poses many questions. For instance, “Who is going to be the BIM manager?”. Undoubtedly, there has to be someone to coordinate the use of the new technologies. This causes many architects to be weary because they think they might lose their role as a main coordinator of the design and construction stage. It is a well-known fact that in Bulgaria and other European countries it is the architects who coordinate the building project and less often the project manager. I feel that the reluctance comes from people’s uneasiness about having someone new introduced to the work process.

You mentioned during your presentation that you wish to set up a Bulgarian BIM task group that will educate Bulgarian AEC professionals and guide them through the implementation of BIM. Could you please tell me something more about that?

I hope that the potential task group will involve not only my colleagues but everybody that has anything to do with BIM technologies. Designers, contractors, administrative staff – municipalities and the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works. Beyond the purely educational nature of such an organization, one of its main purposes would be to create a ‘BIM road map’ – covering the steps and stages that we all have to go through in order to make the most of BIM in Bulgaria. There is no doubt that such a task group should facilitate seminars and conferences informing of the good practices abroad as well as give constant updates of the changing regulatory environment.