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Major shift in ranking of European architects’ BIM usage

In the previous article we saw that over the past two years, BIM usage among European architects has not grown as much as expected. Although many reasons for this can be theorised, a very apparent one is that starting with BIM is perceived to be quite an investment, and to say that the troubled and uncertain times we have just gone through did not invite such investments is quite an understatement. 

Although it did not grow as much as expected, BIM usage among architects did grow. In some places, it grew rather more spectacularly than in others, as is clear when comparing BIM usage in specific countries, which was researched for the Q2 2021 report of USP Marketing Consultancy’s European Architectural Barometer. Because of these differences in growth rates, the ranking of countries according to architects’ BIM usage shows some dramatic shifts.

BIM usage ranking has shifted


For many years now, the country with the largest percentage of architects using BIM has been the Netherlands. Currently, the Netherlands still holds that first place with a whopping four out of five architects using BIM, while all five of them are fully aware of BIM’s existence. Given the distance between the percentages of the first and second place in the ranking, there is little chance that this will change.

What has changed is that the UK, who held second place for many years, has been overtaken by Poland, where a larger share of architects is now using BIM. Belgium has done well too, currently holding third place, while Italy is still at the bottom of this ranking. This clearly shows that in certain countries, BIM usage has grown much faster than in others.

More shifts expected

Looking at the prognosis for the future, based on architects’ plans to start using BIM in the coming years, the race is clearly still on and many shifts in ranking are to be expected. One reason why more shifts are to be expected is the proximity between the second and seventh place, and all ranks in between, in the above ranking.

The only real exceptions at the moment are the Netherlands, as mentioned before, and Italy, where only 22% of architects use BIM at the moment. BIM usage in the other six countries is laying around 40%, with Poland being a bit higher, and Germany a bit lower, but all being fairly close to each other. Given their proximity, the middle countries do not need to grow much faster to overtake each other.

Significant growth of BIM usage expected in all countries

According to architects’ expectations and plans to start using BIM in the coming years, BIM usage is expected to grow in all countries, albeit not all at the same speed due to different starting positions in the ranking. In the Netherlands, some minor further growth is expected, while Italian architects expect quite a large growth in usage leading to almost three out of five using BIM in four years’ time. But as mentioned before, the other six countries start more or less at the same position, which means a neck and neck race with many shifts in ranking is expected to take place over the next four years.

What will happen beyond that is hard to say. A case like the Netherlands, where four out of five architects use BIM and are earning more than half of their turnover from projects in which BIM is involved, shows that there is a lot of potential for growth of BIM usage in the other countries yet. However, the Netherlands may also be an exception, meaning other countries could level out at a lower level of BIM usage in the coming decade.

Given the unexpected year we have just been through, it is best not to jump to conclusions that are too far removed from the current facts though. For a detailed picture of the current BIM usage and expectations of architects from eight countries, as well as of their turnover and order book development, we refer you to the Q2 2021 report of USP Marketing Consultancy’s European Architectural Barometer.