Building Information Modelling (or ‘BIM’) is a way to create and mange information about a construction project throughtout the project’s lifecycle. The main output is the ‘Building Information Model’, a digital depiction of all aspects of the project. Not only is BIM innovative in the way it allows the building process to be optimised, it also offers a platform for collaboration between everyone involved in the project. In this short post, we write a bit more about BIM and why it is a useful tool for the modern architect.
More than just a 3D image
BIM can mean different things to different people – it really depends on what you are using it for. However, it is generally understood that it is more than ‘just a piece of software’ that creates a 3D geometry of the structure. It also provides a series of co-ordinated processes that provide all of the information about the structure seen in the image.
In practice, this means that a BIM provides more than just a digital representation of the building, as it is made up of objects that are related: the building itself; the spaces that make up the building (rooms, hallways, etc.); the systems in the spaces (heating, plumbing, etc.); the products that make up the spaces (furniture, appliances, etc.); and the relationships between the objects.
Another key function of BIM is that it can help a design and construction team communicate and work together well with one another, their client(s) and the public, to deliver real benefits. By building the digital design first, the team can be confident that all the elements fit together properly, avoiding unexpected difficulties in the actual build process. The digital design requires input from the architect, structural engineer, services engineer, etc., before handing over the information to the construction team.
There are also benefits for the construction team. When purchasing materials, detailed specifications can be extracted quickly from the model, and information about how materials should be installed/maintained can also be included.Rather than this information being kept in hard copy brochures, the model acts as a central database for all queries.
The model can also be handed over to the owner of the building so that it can be used for reference in the future (e.g. for refurbishment).
By understanding the project really well, any risks are significantly reduced. Today’s building projects can be very complicated – the more that everyone understands each other’s needs (e.g. design team, subcontractors, owners, etc.), the less risk there is. This also has positive effects on profitability and the level of customer service delivered to clients.