Australia is set to see a further push toward a BIM focus, with the latest merger announcement in the architecture sector set to bring a new BIM ‘centre of excellence’ down under.

In its latest announcement, Australia’s i2C architects say they have joined forces with UK outfit Ryder Architecture under a new alliance which will see a consolidation of the two firm’s practices in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth the United Kingdom and Hong Kong.

A critical aspect of the alliance revolves around Ryder’s intentions to bring its BIM Academy to Australia – a joint venture which was co-founded with Northumbria University in 2010 and through which Ryder is trying to create an international centre of excellence for BIM through research, training and consultancy.

In a statement, iC2 said the new arrangements will create an alliance of like-minded and similar sized practices which shared compatible values and will enable both firms to benefit from multi-disciplinary experience.

“We are very excited to be part of the international alliance as it will allow us to expand our sector and BIM offerings, but it also enables a fabulous opportunity for our teams to develop their practice and project management skills in exchange programs,” i2C Joint Managing Director Anthony Merlin said.

Established in 1999 by Merlin and friend Brian Jende, i2C operates across the commercial, urban planning, interior design and retail sectors, and has 50 staff across offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.

Talks to develop an alliance have been going on since Merlin and Jende met Ryder Director Mark Thompson ‘shared their first beer together’ after a chance meeting in 2010, and culminated in the agreement being finalised earlier this year.

In recent separate announcements, i2C say they have recruited Spanish architect Ines Benavente Molina and interior designer Magdalena Uscinowicz to their domestic workforce.

The latest developments come amid an ongoing focus on BIM and its potential to drive business benefits and productivity.

Whereas only 36 percent of architects and engineers and 12 percent of construction contractors used BIM on 60 percent or more of their projects in 2013, according to a McGraw Hill survey conducted in that year, those numbers are set to rise to 56 percent and 31 percent this year.