COBie or not COBie was put on to explore the use of information, created in the design and development of a building model, from its earliest stages to the way it can be shared between collaborators on the same project, and its use in the maintenance of an asset following its completion. COBie, of course, is the Government sponsored format for compiling the information in a common data format , enabling it to be shared with facilities managers and their staff unfamiliar with CAD.

The Forum was hosted by CAD User magazine with Vectorworks as its main sponsor, and followed a simple format where each of the issues were explored followed by a panel of experts fielding questions from the attendees. Jonathan Reeves of JRarchitects, and Martyn Horne, Vectorworks kicked off, bringing the audience up to date with the way in which information is compiled within a 3D model, and how it is then formatted within the COBie database – Martyn at pains to explain that the format wasnot a spreadsheet, but a compilation of categorised database of building components, supplemented by associated information of relevance to its specific usage in asset management.

An alternative method of information delivery and presentation was given by Andrew Norrie of 3D Repro, showing how federated information from the 3D model could be displayed in a more visual format – and collated for use as asset management data. Andrew highlighted the fact that tomorrow’s generation of architects are already immersed in high level digital technology. His talk was followed by Andy Stanton of tfl (Transport for London – the forum was held in the London Transport Museum) a user of BIM information on projects throughout the London Underground network. His experiences as a user cast some doubts on the ease with which BIM information, and specifically COBie information, is currently being used.

Following lunch, Stephen Holmes of CAD venture gave us an even more sober view of BIM take-up, pointing out some of the issues involved, and which our aim was to highlight – specifically the ownershio of the data, how it is to be maintained throughout the life of the project and legal issues following disputes.

This was followed by the Question and Answer forum where the audience – the Forum was well attended – were able to question the panel more thoroughly, based on a more substantial briefing than they would previously have had.

Mission accomplished, therefore. We may not have answered the original question, COBie or not COBie, but we provided all attendees with the information they need to make their own decisions on something that will influence the working practices of their companies going forward.


9:00 Registration and coffee
10:00 Introduction by David Chadwick – COBie or Not COBie – That is the question.
10:10 Information is the Key to BIM. But what information, how do we save it, why and how much?
10:40 Why can’t we use a Federated Building Model as an Information Delivery System?
11:10 Coffee Break
11:30 Learning to Love COBie – It’s the best and most effective solution we have.
12:00 What information do I need for managing my assets, and how do I want it?
12:30 Lunch break
13:30 When Theory meets Practice. Unanswered questions about COBie and the FBM.
14:00 Questions and Answers. Your chance to put the panel of experts under pressure
15:30 Close


  • Andrew Norrie

    Andrew has 7+ years experience in the 3D CAD / BIM industry having worked for market leaders such as SolidWorks and Graphisoft. Andrew is now Commercial Director at 3D Repo, a young university spin-out company developing a cloud based collaboration platform built around the concept of a database and exchanging data not files, creating exciting opportunities for analysis across projects.

  • Andy Stanton

    Andy is Infrastructure & Sustainability Manager at Transport for London, where he heads a team responsible for technical infrastructure, asset management and the sustainability and environmental performance of TfL's office portfolio. Current projects include ISO 55000 accreditation and BIM implementation for FM and operational phase of asset management alongside Government Soft Landings.

    Andy is a chartered building services engineer a former ESTA Energy Manager of the Year, and a member of the Institute of Asset Management, CIBSE and the Energy Institute . He is a regular guest lecturer on sustainability at City University and represents TfL on the board of the Better Buildings Partnership. Andy has worked and studied in France and the UK, in FM, energy efficiency and sustainability, both in the private and public sector.

  • David Chadwick

    David Chadwick has been the editor of CAD User and Construction Computing magazines for over 14 years and has been involved in the computer industry since the early 70’s. David founded and edited Windfall, the first UK magazine dedicated to Apple computers, and followed the entire move from pen plotters to the latest technologies in colour printing as Senior Research Consultant for IDC and BIS.

  • Martyn Horne

    An industrial designer by training, Martyn Horne has been working with design software for twenty years with a broad experience in the architectural, landscape and product engineering industries. As Development Manager for Vectorworks Design Series solutions, he is responsible for BIM implementation strategies in the UK.

    Martyn is a member of BuildSMART, the International Alliance for Interoperability and is also on the Landscape Institute BIM Working Group. He sees openBIM™ as being a real opportunity for the industry to work in a truly collaborative manner for the first time. Martyn has been involved from the start with the National BIM Library and the recent COBie UK Phase 2 trials.

    He has spoken at the Ecobuild BIM seminars for the past three years and also presented ‘BIM – Your Next Step’ at the RIBA seminar series. He has been a judge of Build London Live and on this years judging panel for BIM Show Live.

  • Jonathan Reeves - BA (Hons) M Arch Dip Arch RIBA

    Jonathan Reeves is a Chartered Architect in the UK and a member of the RIBA. After graduation Jonathan worked in London at 3dReid, GPS Architects and PM Devereux, where he completed his professional practice. He has also worked in Sydney, Australia with award-winning architects Adrian McGregor (now of McGregor Coxall) and Adam Russell.

  • Stephen Holmes - Professional Services Director, Cadventure

    Stephen re-joined Cadventure in November 2016. He leads the Digital Build Consultancy and Training Team, and oversees all of Cadventure’s Professional Services activities.

    With over 17 years industry experience, Stephen worked for six years at Foster+Partners, the London based architecture and integrated design practices, where he was Practice BIM Manager.

    Previously Stephen had been Head of Consulting Services at Cadventure for 11 years.

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of Innovative Vectorworks BIM by

Jonathan Reeves
An inspiring read for Architects getting started with BIM or who want to be level 2 BIM compliant.

What will you learn?

Is COBie still a practical solution for delivering building information to the people who need to use it?

Why can't we just give them the 3D model instead?

What information does the building owner need and how should it be delivered?

What happens when theory comes up against practice?

Who owns the building model, and who will maintain it through the building's life?

Learn the power, importance and the why's and how's of leveraging the information you are accruing in your 3D model


Hear presentations from industry experts discussing the pros and cons of each solution

Put your questions to the panel

Network with your peers