There is a growing need for interconnections and syntehis, and for people who act as organizers, filters and translators
We talked about bias, comparison, inclusion and creative empathy with Laura Tiburzi, BIM Manager for MCA Mario Cucinella Architects and National Lead for Women in BIM Italy
Let’s start talking about WIB, Women In Bim Italy, which you presented at SAIE on October 22. Tell us what WIB is and why it is a particularly relevant initiative in our country’s context. How did this journey start for you?
Women in BIM is an international association that supports women in the construction sector, starting from the specific area of BIM, then broadening the perspective on dynamics that are very transversal, also common to many other professions. In Italy we are witnessing a constant and important cultural improvement on the issue of the role of women in society, especially in new generations. However, there is still much to do in the workplace where men and women often start from the same automatism (the famous cognitive bias), proposing dynamics that we are now ready to overcome. To break these reflexes we need awareness and this means having open discussions and communication. I am happy to see that around Women in BIM gravitates a large group of genuinely curious and active men: giving value to each other we can grow as a community and as professionals. I personally approached WIB as a volunteer for the mentoring project (the new applications for 2023 open in January!) and more recently I agreed to become the national manager for Italy. To be honest, at first I had some doubts about this, but reading some reports (like the one from the National Council of Engineers) and discussing with other colleagues on a more personal level, I realized that it still makes sense to talk to men about women and (foremost) to women about themselves in this field. The response of the participants to SAIE was strong both in terms of numbers and energy. So this leads the whole Italian group, for which I am the spokesperson, to feel even more urged to look for the words and methods that suit best for the important work we do.
“Giving value to each other we can grow as a community and as professionals”
Your view about BIM and digital transformation is not purely technical. On the contrary, it seems to be deeply rooted in a formation with humanistic roots. Can you tell us more about your own perspective?
I have always cultivated both technical and humanistic passions, constantly questioning the meaning of what we are doing as a society and as individuals. Since the question is a bit philosophical, I allow myself some free reflection with the readers to try and think together and make more conscious choices. BIM is only a part of a much larger process of digitalization, but it’s diffusion is related to a sector that is historically more concrete and resistant to change. This is why we experience it with greater friction. Technology brings great powers but, as is well known, “great powers lead to great responsibilities”. This is why it is up to our figure that shifts between the technical, the managerial and the informative sectors to focus also on what are the related risks and what are the strategies to work on in order to digitalize in a coordinated way. On one hand, I see great careers for only a few people (although praiseworthy, let me be clear); on the other hand, a rather high risk of digital illiteracy which could cut off a large section of the population; and on another hand, the need to make brains work before computers, especially for the younger generations. I love technology, but our biology and cultural systems are slower, we still have to develop some antibodies and then make a conscious and coordinated use of them, as it has been with previous revolutions. Particular attention must certainly be given to the different speed at which these changes, compared to the ones we’ve seen in the past, are taking place. What are the consequences? How to make conscious and not compulsory, naive or pre constructed choices as if everything were necessary? Research, training and communication must work together. The construction industry is no exception and as designers we must do our “cultural” part to make the best of it and create virtuous examples at different scales.
You have been working in MCA’s BIM unit for several years now. Let’s imagine that the Studio’s approach, which focuses on a broad vision of sustainability of the built environment, is not unrelated to your choice. How do technological and humanistic perspectives interact in the Studio’s practice and your activities?
The work of Mario Cucinella Architects is based on certain principles that do not exhaust their function exclusively in a technical value, but have important consequences and implications of a humanistic nature. Personally, what I identify with most is the “creative empathy”. This means the ability to think of a project as intimately linked to the place in which it fits, an empathic response to the conditions of the territory. From a concept of environmental sustainability to a larger one that embraces local society and economy. Practically, every new project is the result of the collaboration of many individuals and many professionals (colleagues or consultants) with different skills and sensitivities, all coordinated by Mario Cucinella, the founder. As an example I always gladly bring the kindergarten in Guastalla completed a few years ago: from the shape to the materials, to the technical solutions everything was thought out in a coordinated way between the professionals and those who would have lived those spaces every day. This is why I always insist on the communication subject: in order to get large groups to work together in the best possible way, we don’t just need technology (which certainly helps us), but also willpower. Regarding my immediate range of action, I would say that we could all potentially work “in BIM”, because it is a method, but at the base there must be a desire to review our modus operandi and to want to find a common language to achieve our goals. The Cucinella Studio has been focusing on the use of the BIM method in its projects for several years. A BIM unit was created in order to enhance individual skills and to create a bridge between the strategic vision of the company and concrete implications. It includes the CDE manager, BIM managers and an experienced BIM coordinator.
“It’s up to our figure that shifts between the technical, the managerial and the informative sectors to focus also on what are the related risks and what are the strategies to work on in order to digitalize in a coordinated way.“
Your personal and professional path is very rich and it seems to us that it’s characterized by the search for connections and contaminations between people, places and themes… Tell us briefly about the path you followed and help us understand what is the common thread that connects the different stages you got through.
I am a very curious person and I like to dive into new adventures: ancient cultures, theatre, coding, foreign languages… But growing up I realized how we can achieve much more from collaboration than on our own. This principle cannot be applied to everything, but in this historical moment it seems to me that there is a growing need for interconnections (and for synthesis figures that work as organizers, filters, translators and relaunch points for messages). The common thread that connects my training is perhaps one that has never been purely for work but, more extensively, aimed at opening new windows in an attempt to create contaminations that could excite not just me but also the people I have the pleasure of meeting. Therefore, I would like to take the opportunity of this question to thank you for this interview, hoping that I have intrigued someone. You can find us on the Italian Linkedin group of Women in BIM!
There’s an elephant in the room, and you can’t pretend it isn’t there!