A new article on “Platformization in the Built Environment: The Political Techno-Economy of Building Information Modeling” was recently published in Science as Culture.
This article shows how the advance of digital and data-based technologies in architecture and construction is inextricably intertwined with a distinct political-economic logic that involves new constraints and dependencies and a reconfiguration of power relations. The analysis of the platformization in the built environment is based on the study of construction policy documents, position documents published by the software industry, and on AEC expert interviews. The data collection and analysis were part of the research project RP 10-1 studying the reconfiguration of actor relations, practices, stakeholder expectations, and organizational structures through advanced digital design and construction.
The digital transformation of architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) is being hailed as a panacea for the sectors’ problems, with major actors in government and business promoting it as a benevolent harbinger of greater efficiency, productivity, better quality, and environmental performance. However, advancing digitalization in AEC is intertwined with a distinct political-economic logic that involves new constraints, dependencies, and a reconfiguration of power relations. Specifically, Building Information Modeling (BIM) as a digital convergence of three-dimensional building models, databases, and interfaces for multidisciplinary collaboration operates as a runway technology for digitalization and an entry point for platformization impelled by global software giants, such as this article’s empirical case of software company Autodesk and its BIM product portfolio shows. BIM’s linkage of governmental policy strategies with the techno-economic platform logic of software subscription models, open application programming interfaces, and cloud-enabled collaboration ensures management and control of construction data and software interoperability. At the same time, BIM’s techno-economic and political configuration facilitates a near-monopolistic structure in the global architecture and construction software market. It thus grants one hegemonic company immense power to define what formats, standards, and data for building models and design processes are being used in creating the built environment. The expansive, intersecting logics of assetization, platformization, and datafication have been taking hold in the AEC sector, raising questions about their stratifying effects in the built environment and society.
Please read the full journal article here.
Fig. 2 from article: Common depiction of BIM’s potential for inter- and intra-organizational collaboration as well as data exchange.