Salih, you were promoted to BIM Manager this year. How did you start using BIM, the 3D way of working on a construction project?
When I started studying more than ten years ago, the 2D tools were fun. But in the second semester we got used to a 3D tool, which was quite a big change. And after that, I couldn't just go back to the old ways. I had to do it in 3D – when I looked at the 2D drawings, my brain automatically asked myself: "Where's the 3D drawing? You must see it!" At that point, I knew that I had to work with 3D models in the future.
You used to work as a project coordinator at Xella before. Did you miss working with BIM?
Yes, and even as a project coordinator I was itching to use BIM. It was my job to coordinate all the materials that needed to be distributed and delivered. I entered several projects into our BIM tool. And the clients liked the 3D visualization of the material that was going to be delivered, so they could look through it and visualize it. And after a while, when there was no 3D, they kept asking me: "Where is the 3D drawing, can we get it? Can we see what it's going to look like?" But that was just a side project, so I am very happy that BIM is now my main subject as a BIM manager.
How did you join Xella?
I followed my boss from my previous employer to Xella and after a year, he had a vacancy that sounded very interesting. With autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC), you have a lot of variety and a lot of room to improvise and do interesting things. I no longer wanted to work with concrete elements the way I had before. From one project to the next, it was probably just the color that changed. We were doing mostly big, huge buildings with this concrete, and I was more interested in the smaller ones, like single-family homes. So, I took the offer and I have not regretted it since. I really enjoy that we have the freedom to experiment and try new ideas and technologies with the support of our management.
What do you like about designing single-family homes?
It seems more private to me because I see the big buildings everywhere and everyone knows that it takes a lot of engineering and a lot of work to make it happen. But with single-family homes, the owner can roll up their sleeves and pick up some blocks and build something for themselves. Someday I'll be that guy. It's an ambitious plan, but maybe it will happen. That's what I like about Ytong: it's affordable compared to everything else. You can just go to the nearest store that sells the blocks and start building.
Where does your fascination come from?
Probably my family history. I come from Bulgaria and my father and grandfather built everything themselves, they are craftsmen. If we wanted to build an extension or a summer house or something, they built it. They never hired a construction company, they did it with my brother and me. When we were kids, we were always around them. You go where your parents are, and if they're busy, you have to find something to do yourself. My experience with a construction site came naturally.
Why did you move from Bulgaria to Denmark?
It happened when I had just started studying Business Administration, which I didn't really like. But I had a friend who was studying in Denmark, and he told me that it was a fantastic country. I got into university and started studying construction. I liked it from the beginning. After I graduated, I decided to give it a few more years. Today, I realize that the country is so deep in me that I don’t want to go back. Denmark is so full of good and kind people. My wife and I even got married in Denmark. We have a son and another one on the way. We live very close to the sea, so it's quite often that I go there for a walk with my family.
Is there something you miss about Bulgaria?
Yes, my family and my personal relationships, the city I grew up in and all that sentimental stuff. But that makes it even sweeter when I come back for a vacation. I go back at least once a year.
And what would you like to see in the future as a BIM engineer?
I would really like to see the day when we all agree on the standards across Europe and speak the same technical language, so that we can understand each other on a technical level.