“BIM” Building Information Modelling

Our office has recently completed the transition to a BIM computing environment. BIM, or ‘Building Information Modelling,’  is the latest generation of architectural software that produces ‘intelligent’ 3-dimensional digital models of buildings. These virtual buildings are created with ‘families’ that contain all of the properties of the real objects – for example, a particular ‘door’ in the model contains all information regarding its material, construction, finish, colour, fire-rating, handle, etc. This added intelligence shifts the power of the virtual model far beyond the last generation of 3-dimensional CAD (Computer Aided Design) models that were only used for image making. The use of BIM now provides us with an enormous amount of power during all stages of the architectural process:

  • Initial building form and planning envelope studies can be created in 3D
  • Discussions with planning authorities can take place around a fully detailed virtual model of the proposed building and the context, ensuring complete accuracy of view studies, shadow diagrams, height relationships and streetscape studies
  • 3D visualisation becomes an integral part of the design process, providing the client with continuous imagery
  • Real-time walk-through animations can be created
  • Coordination with engineers and other consultants can be undertaken in 3D, ensuring complete accuracy of working drawings
  • Energy, lighting and wind analysis can be undertaken directly from the model
  • 3D digital data can be exchanged with builders for direct computer controlled fabrication of building components

Many of these advantages are ‘technical’ in nature; they assist with the part of the architectural process that is about construction. However, it is of far more importance to our office that  BIM can be used toimprove the quality of design – the ability to work in 3D throughout the entire architectural process enables us to constantly evaluate and improve the design. The traditional process was split into a ‘design phase’ and a ‘documentation phase’  and often each was undertaken by a different section of the office. BIM now enables the entire process to be integrated. We can view working drawings in 3D and be assured that ‘what you see is what you get’. The images below show a number of our projects during the working drawings phase.