I’ve been thinking about this post for a while and thought it might be of benefit to others giving an outline of how I work and my thoughts about BIM
This post is written to give clients a better understanding of the architects process but will also be of benefit to other architects and related design professionals.
But first, what exactly is BIM?
To give a understanding of BIM we need to firstly to give a little ‘back history’ on the production of architectural drawings…
The first major jump from traditional hand drawings was two dimensional Computer Aided Design where the ink lines and text were replaced by digital, 2 dimensional versions. This change in drawing production gave a quantum leap in the efficiency in the speed in architects offices; probably not in the actual speed at which the drawings are produced (which in my opinion was often the same), but instead the speed increase came when drawings were edited and deleted without having to use razor blades to scratch the ink from tracing paper.
The next jump in Computer Aided Design was the transition from 2D to 3D; where the two dimensional vectors are replaced with three dimensional equivalents. Working in three dimensions gives massive benefits in terms of aiding the design process and huge presentation benefits when showing the virtual model of a building to clients, planners and the like.
The next smaller jump from 3D CAD was where the three dimensional elements are replaced by parametric equivalents where a door has the characteristics of a real door such as the height, width, leaf, frame etc… rather than just a collection of 3D vectors that looks like a door. The concept of parametrics is that the object of this type can be amended through a simple dialog box rather than through complex 3 dimensional editing. As well as having 3 dimensional data, a parametric object can have numeric data such as cost, colour, finish etc… which enables the production of a set of schedules or cost reports.
An extended vesion of using the a 3D model is that you are now able to extract the 2 dimensional drawings for planning applications and construction drawings from the same 3D model.
The next logical and current conclusion is that the 3 dimensional model is used collaboratively between all members of the design team; the same 3D model is exchanged between the architect, structural engineer, mechanical and electrical engineer so that any conflict between architecture and other services is spotted at an early stage.
So which one do I use? The answer is all of them and it depends upon the type and scale of project for which is the most suitable.
If I need to draw up something quickly in 2D and I know that any changes are highly unlikely then I’ll just use 2D:
Most of the time however is that I’m using 3D (combined with parametric objects) so that I am designing in 3D, presenting 3D models and drawings to clients and planners and then using the same 3D model to extract the 2 dimensional drawings required during the planning and construction stages:
The YouTube movie below shows a rendered 3D Model where all of the planning drawings (shown under) were taken from the 3D model; what’s particularly interesting is that I can see potential clashes that would have been harder to detect without the 3 dimensional model (where the brise soleil meets a concrete barge is one instance):
I am also able to exchange data with other design professionals; the current BIM standard is IFC format – I will say however that the type of work I undertake (which can be highly crafted buildings) I feel don’t all neatly into this BIM/IFC format and the type of projects ideally would be on a larger and more standardised (I may be proved wrong however as I’m currently testing a series of projects to see how suitable a BIM type approach will be. I therefore still do quite a lot of work in 2D, predominantly on the details and dimensions/annotations; although the core bulk of work has been taken from the 3D model:
So what does this mean for clients? Basically that I have the capability of providing architectural services at a every level of scale and detail; from small projects to large schemes and have the infrastructure and implementation to work in 2D and 3D and also to exchange information on larger schemes using BIM standards with other design professionals.
Images from the CAD software I use (Vectorworks), 2D, 3D, Parametric design and BIM.
These thoughts and opinions are entirely my own and if you think I’ve got anything unclear or incorrect then please let me know…