Wednesday23 August 2017

Me and my IT: Rob Charlton

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As a practice we’re very reliant on IT. I don’t have a desk – my office is basically my briefcase.

We use Microsoft Office Communicator, which allows us to use video conferencing right across the group. All of us have laptops with inbuilt cameras – and some have iPhones and iPads – so we can talk from anywhere.

Our cleaners have laptops because that’s how we communicate. They have to be linked to the system. If you take them out of the loop they’re not part of our team.

A lot of the directors float around. All our offices are next to train stations - we’re a very mobile business. The building we occupy in Newcastle was originally the headquarters for Sage, an accountancy software specialist – we use Sage Line 100 to manage our finances.

We tie it all together with an intranet called Isis, which contains all our knowledge management and all our contacts. And then we have a document management system, called Daisy, that we developed and built out of two existing products. That’s very good, but there’s a real change coming in how information is distributed with bim.

We were using Revit before it was bought by Autodesk. But it wasn’t until 2007 that we had our first major project in it and made the commitment for the whole business to use it.
All of our staff are now working in Revit and in bim for all projects, right from designing a toilet extension to a £200 million development.

We’ve developed a Code 6 house for around £200,000 using bim. I think it gives the whole construction industry a chance to reunite with an integrated approach to building.

We’ve proved that working in Revit and bim uses significantly less resource if you get it right. But we’re far away from universal adoption or even a real recognition of the benefits in architecture and it’s been hard to demonstrate the benefits to clients. They don’t get to see the pain of the process.

The next few years are going to be about the private sector, so we have to be able to demonstrate real long-term financial benefits.

Rob Charlton is CEO of Space Group


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