Last edited 05 Jul 2018

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BIM Trade Mission 2017

In November 2017, CIAT took part in a Trade Mission to Santiago, organised by the British Embassy in Chile and the British Chamber of Commerce, working with the UK government’s Department for International Trade and CORFO, (a Chilean government body which promotes economic growth in the country). Organisations comprising the delegation included CIAT, BRE, RIBA, the UK BIM Task Group and the UK BIM Alliance.


Representing the Institute was International Director, Tara Page and Solam Sizer MCIAT.

Chile is one of Latin America’s most developed economies and it continues to see steady growth. To advance the country’s economic development and prosperity, the Chilean government has earmarked US$28 billion for large-scale investment in new infrastructure projects by 2021, including the development of new ports, airports, roads, highways and public buildings.

The Chilean government is seeking to work with the UK’s leading construction and infrastructure organisations, to utilise their expertise and deliver its plans for Chile’s development. It wants to learn how to apply BIM UK protocols to its projects, improving productivity, delivering value and encouraging ingenuity in design, materials, build systems and products, and there is a need for formal recognition of professionals working in these areas.

The delegation learned about the opportunities open to them and met important and influential figures, such as representatives from relevant government ministries, main construction and architectural organisations (regulatory and professional bodies), Schools of Architectural Technology/Architecture, and commercial organisations taking part in the third BIM Latin America (LATAM) congress, part of which the trade mission delegates attended.

The BIM LATAM congress aims to analyse the scope, challenges and experiences in relation to BIM, both in Chile and globally, and includes speakers and delegates from industry, academia and technology. The Chilean government has been hugely proactive already:

  • A second Chilean Inter-Ministry Agreement was signed to implement the mandatory use of BIM for all public tendered projects from 2020. BIM is already in use for private projects in real estate, health, retail and other areas. Six new hospitals and Santiago’s international airport have all been tendered using BIM.
  • In June 2017, BRE and IDIEM signed an MoU to collaborate, share knowledge and best practice and to develop standards relating to sustainable construction and BIM in Chile.

The construction sector in Chile is worth 7.4% of GDP and employs around 8% of the population (approx. 800,000 people), and Chile is classed as joint best developed Latin American country by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Chilean construction projects include:

  • 286.000 sq. m of office space development in Santiago.
  • USD $6.5 billion in new retail stores across Latin America.
  • Investment of USD$800 million forecasted by Walmart, or 60 new supermarkets in Chile.

Only 28% of architects in Chile are regular users of BIM and 55% of engineers do not use it at all. Client demand is growing but the lack of local ability and the limited use of standards is restricting the benefits of BIM. In fact, the major factors against the implementation of BIM include the lack of qualified professionals and the high costs of software.

The introduction of BIM to Chile aims to open the market to international and local design, engineering and construction bodies, both in the commercial sector and in the third sector, particularly in regard to qualifying professionals and implementing standards. There is an opportunity for the UK to demonstrate its BIM-led design and consultancy expertise through Chile’s adoption of UK BIM protocols, and for the Institute to showcase its membership standards and competences; BIM being especially pertinent to CIAT’s members.

The delegation met with:

  • Universities, including Universidad Catolica de Chile, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile and the University of Chile. As part of a multi-university initiative in which some of these universities are involved, Architectural Technologists have been invited to collaborate on research supported by the Chilean government that seeks to identify the lack of understanding/use of BIM technologies by Chilean practitioners, working within the full range of construction-related disciplines.
  • ProChile, a government body which has a focus on export and the promotion of goods and professional services of Chile, although for the last 20 years its emphasis has been on services, especially those offered by SMEs. It facilitates the exchange of services, best practice, etc. with other countries. Industries include IT, construction, university education, technology, innovation, gaming and since 2008, architecture.
  • The Administrative Corporation for the Judicial Authority (CAPJ). CAPJ is the only ministerial team that not only directly purchases land for their projects but also builds and maintains the infrastructure.
  • CDT, a private organisation created in 1989, whose mission is to promote and develop technology to help companies in the construction sector. It aims to educate, promote and undertake research. It helps with the standardisation of information for BIM, similar to the NBS. CDT is part of Chilean Construction Chamber.
  • The Association of Architects’ Offices (AOA), a nonprofit organisation created in 1998, comprised of more than 160 national architectspractices, responsible for important architectural projects in Chile.

The Trade Mission offered an opportunity for CIAT to penetrate this open and receptive market, promoting the discipline, the Institute and its membership to government bodies, universities and major commercial organisations in Chile.

The International Department is in discussions with these Chilean organisations, as well as the other UK-based organisations which made up the Trade Mission, in order to work together to establish a long-term strategy to create and maintain strong links between the UK and Chile.

This article was originally published by AT Journal issue 125. It was written by Tara Page, International Director.


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