At the recent DAS held in Cape Town, Jozanne Louw and Roelof Rabe from Roelof Rabe Architects gave a presentation about their project: The Biomedical Research Institute, which is currently being completed at Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at their Tygerberg Campus.

Roelof Rabe elaborated on the level of detail embedded in the building information modelling (BIM) model, based on the digital twin principle, which allows facilities management to explore the best suitable interface software to maintain and manage the building and its systems through its lifecycle.

Changed era

Buildings of today require far more complex designs as the functions and uses inside buildings become more complex. If you take this case building and compare it to its older relative next door (built in the 1970s), it looks slightly different, but with generally the same building materials and form – but it is a completely different model of the building. So, what is different 40 years later? This building could easily have been designed with the old technology, as technology doesn’t replace good design. But there is a massive shift in complexity.

The brief

The decarbonisation process and cost-effective, long-term maintenance must be the focus of any new project. The design and construction process must be aided by the coordination of the services and assisted by powerful software. Spaces will change and the purpose of spaces will change in the future, as the rate of technological evolution is increasing. It is therefor paramount that the client must decide on the level of detail required from its professional team before the project starts.

Keeping up with constantly increasing complexity

In the 1980s hand drawings were used to design, coordinate and construct buildings. Without BIM it would have been impossible to do this building, as consultants had to collaborate through a digital platform as per the BIM execution plan. BIM is not just a set of drawings; it is an integrated data system with everything embedded in the model, as required by the client. By applying the correct facilities management software (integrated workspace management system IWMS) the client can test any future changes to the building, including physical and use changes, through simulations. This can be achieved by using all the data available in the BIM model and with monitoring and censoring.

When you look closely you will see a huge amount of detail that might not have been present in the hand drawings of the 80’s.

IWMS translates all the data to functional, focussed data as required by the Facilities Managers.

Working towards a holistic philosophy

Technology doesn’t replace good design. The client’s brief is more than just a space schedule. It must be a holistic philosophy. Hence beginning with the end in mind.

For more information, contact Roelof Rabe Architects:
Tel: +27 21 1690

For more projects like these, subscribe to our free magazine on Sign up for our newsletter: or join other discussions on, and

Subscribe to our Community👇

Stay Inspired, Stay Educated, Stay Informed.

This is how people in the built environment do it!

By subscribing you agree to receive our promotional marketing materials. You may unsubscribe at any time. We keep your data private.