Knotworking undoes knots

"Knotworking", a collaboration method introduced as part of the Model Nova work package in RYM Oy’s PRE program, has already proven its effectiveness in several projects.

1. Knotworking

Knotworking could be seen as a traditional workshop activity where a specific problem is solved through a collaborative method. This method allows BIM-based design to be moved to the early stages of a project, i.e. when the different parties do not yet have a common vision. A knot workshop is designed to help them specify their common vision so they can move towards a common goal.

Knotworking is particularly suitable for making early stage energy calculations. A building can be simulated using different parameters, allowing you to find the most environmentally friendly solution. For example, if there are several alternative massing solutions, the differences in energy efficiency can be analyzed through simulation.

This enables achieving one of the aims of BIM-based energy simulations, an opportunity to impact a building’s physical solutions at a point when it is possible for all parties.

A knotworking workshop generally takes 1-2 days, but with good preparations it is possible to solve smaller issues through an efficient half-day session.

2. Knotworking in projects

The first testing was carried out as part of the Model Nova development project for the City of Kuopio and it focused on the school/day care project in the village of Syväniemi. The two-day session produced three alternatives for a new building and investigated the possible use of an existing renovated building instead of a new building.

The next knotworking session was commissioned by Senate Properties and it investigated alternative solutions to be used at the Onerva Mäki School which will be built in Jyväskylä. The investigation was carried out from the perspective of energy technology.

Then there was the Metropolia Myllypuro project by the Premises Center of the City of Helsinki. In the middle of project planning it was proposed that knotworking should also be used for energy technology simulations.

The Metropolia architect has two realistic preliminary designs and a completed model of facility groups. The knotworking session will result in an energy and condition survey regarding the best alternative with calculations of both alternatives using 15%, 20% and 25% window opening surface of the total room area.

3. Practical aspects of knotworking

One of the key features of knotworking is the fact that the team decides on its own goals, working methods and ways of solving the problem. In addition, knotworking is not authoritarian, but instead it is cooperative. However, it is necessary to have a good facilitator who holds the reins so that the working method can produce reportable results.

It is also essential that the team is well prepared for the knotworking session. It is advisable to hold a preparatory meeting before the actual workshop to define the goals and agree on the ”homework” that should be completed before the actual session. Once the actual workshop begins, everyone has been able to prepare for the work and the team members may have some questions for the other parties.

One of the practical observations regarding knotworking is the fact that bouncing ideas off each other is significant in moving forward. This allows the team to easily exclude the things that should not be investigated more thoroughly. A good knotworking meeting generally begins so that the first hour or two is spent discussing and specifying the goals.

Based on our experiences, a BIM coordinator who is familiar with the controlling of BIM design would make a good knotworking facilitator.

4. Benefits of knotworking to the customer


  • The knotworking method should be used at an early stage of a building project to make alternative simulation-based calculations regarding the building’s life cycle costs.
  • As a result, the method will produce calculation-based requirements regarding further work.


  • A change in the design process, moving decision-making to an earlier stage of the project based on the expertise of several different areas.
  • Decisions regarding building project costs based on calculated constraints (energy consumption, investment costs, life cycle costs)
  • The intensive knotworking method allows you to produce comparative calculations for a building more quickly than what is possible using a traditional design process.


  • Development of cooperation models