BIMwood BIM-based planning processes in timber construction

The Digital Switzerland Action Plan 2018 requires the mandatory introduction of building information modelling (BIM) from 2021 for buildings of the Swiss Confederation and companies affiliated with it. As a methodical shift towards a new understanding of planning, BIM challenges existing procedures but can also provide solutions to urgent construction issues.


  • Lead school School of Architecture, Wood and Civil Engineering
  • Institute Institute for Digital Economy in the Construction and Wood Industries
  • Research unit Digital Manufacturing
  • Funding organisation Innosuisse
  • Duration (planned) 01.03.2020 - 01.02.2022
  • Project management Thomas Rohner
  • Head of project Thomas Rohner
  • Partner schaerholzbau ag
    GKS Architekten Generalplaner AG
    Pirmin Jung Ingenieure AG
    Design to Production GmbH
    Wirkungsgrad Ingenieure AG
    Hochschule Luzern – Technik &Architektur Kompetenzzentrum Typologie & Planung in Architektur (CCTP)
    Berner Fachhochschule – Architektur, Holz und Bau Institut für digitale Bau- und Holzwirtschaft (IdBH)


Prefabricated timber construction has tremendous potential – not least by making a contribution to the Federal Council’s ambitious 2050 climate goals. The timber construction industry is also ready for the introduction of BIM, but the actors involved nevertheless face continual challenges in terms of implementation: the workflow is interrupted by interfaces, disruptions in the process chain and redundant planning processes. In particular, there is a lack of strategic coherence in the early planning stages with regard to the prefabrication methods of large-sized elements used in timber construction. The key issues are:

  • How can production and assembly be adequately taken into account in the early design stages of timber construction?
  • What decisions must be taken and at what stage to ensure the effective management of prefabricated timber construction projects in relation to costs and sustainability?

The BIMwood project addresses these issues and is developing new planning approaches for prefabricated timber construction as part of an interdisciplinary team in collaboration with industry partners. A planning principle that was successfully applied in product design in the 1980s to take account of production and joining factors in the early planning stages is still not widely used or known about in timber construction: design for manufacturing and assembly (DfMA).

DfMA is an ideal method for incorporating key knowledge from later stages into earlier ones. Existing ‘push planning’ is replaced by ‘pull planning’ from a prefabrication perspective.

The BIMwood project team is using the DfMA planning principle to restructure the process, describes a use case for cost-effective residential timber construction and is validating it through a proof-of-concept in relation to qualitative and quantitative process performance – architecture, costs and CO2 are the key criteria.

BIMwood’s results support the development of expertise on BIM in timber construction in the planning sector and show in specific terms how a contribution from timber construction can help achieve the 2050 carbon neutral goals.

Symbolbild BIM Wood

Research partners

  • Hochschule Luzern – Technik &Architektur
  • Kompetenzzentrum Typologie & Planung in Architektur (CCTP), Projektleitung
  • Berner Fachhochschule – Architektur, Holz und Bau
  • Institut für digitale Bau- und Holzwirtschaft (IdBH)

The BIMwood project is co-funded by Innosuisse.