Digital technologies shaping the Royal Household of the 21st Century

by Dr Graham Kelly | April 5, 2023 | 3 min read

Digital technologies shaping the Royal Household of the 21st Century
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The Royal Household is the collective institution which support members of the British Royal Family, and, within this structure, the Property Services Team manage the estates of all 27 occupied Royal Palaces, which includes Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, St James’s Palace and Sandringham House.

From this list of regal buildings, Buckingham Palace is probably the most iconic: instantly recognisable as the official residence of the British Royal Family. It features 775 rooms, including 19 state rooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms.

Although it is a “home”, it is also a working building with over 400 staff, including domestic servants, chefs, footmen, cleaners, plumbers, gardeners, chauffeurs, electricians and more – attracting over 15 million tourists each year.

Buckingham Palace is currently undergoing a £369million refurbishment, due to be complete in 2027.

At this current time, when the UK and the Commonwealth are celebrating the Coronation of King Charles III, it presents an opportunity for BIM Academy to feel proud of the work we have carried out in support of the ambitious plans the Royal Household has for its historic and captivating landmarks.

In 2016, Buckingham Palace began a predicted 10 year refurbishment project – the largest of its kind since before the second World War. This giant restoration project included the replacing of 100 miles of electrical cabling, 6,500 electrical sockets, 5,000 light fittings, 20 miles of heating pipework, and 2,500 radiators. 

This work was deemed necessary after restoration experts warned the palace and its priceless artwork was at risk of fire and water damage if repairs were not made.

From the start, the Property Services Team were actively seeking to use this as a catalyst to review and improve how asset information is managed across the entirety of the estate. BIM Academy was appointed to develop and deliver an information management strategy and apply our expertise in digital transformation to the entire project from the start.

We created a corporate and operational strategy for BIM implementation across the organisation, and produced a practical roadmap describing the methods to deliver organisation wide implementation for better information management.

The roadmap detailed the incremental phases of work required to achieve the agreed digital vision needed to deliver optimised performance, efficient and effective delivery of the project and integrated digital information systems and processes. This vision included digital replicas for areas of the project using digital twin technology.

We created all the elements required for the Royal Household to progress in their BIM journey by delivering a suite of template BIM documents, OIR, AIR and EIRs. We then identified potential pilot projects and a recommended training plan for the team. 

We continue to support The Royal Household in its commendable vision and the ongoing refurbishment of Buckingham Palace. As the monarchy starts a new chapter, we look forward to seeing a digitally optimised estate support its important role in the 21st Century.

About the author

Dr Graham Kelly

Managing Director, BIM Academy

Graham is responsible for leading on strategic planning and implementation of digital transformation strategies specific to clients’ real needs. This goes beyond BIM: it is as much about the people as it is about the technology. He has over 15 years’ experience in construction and academia, also completing his PhD in early 2015.