Mark Vaughan, BSBG Senior Architectural Technologist, guides us through the 10 top ways in which BIM benefits architects…
If you have read my previous blog, entitled ‘What is BIM?’, you will know that BIM is an umbrella term for the way in which architects now design buildings. The benefits are relevant and useful to all those involved in the design process, from the designers themselves through to clients. Within this blog I am going to touch on the top 10 benefits in using BIM for architects.
From silk to tracing paper to computers, the process of designing and delivering buildings has become more advanced, and much faster. BIM has given architects the capacity to deliver projects in massively reduced timescales.
In 2D, when you draw a line in plan, you draw a line in plan. In BIM, when you draw a line in plan, you also draw a 3D element such as a wall, which automatically creates part of your section, part of your elevation, and a basis for construction details.
Also in 2D, when you draw a door in plan you draw a door in plan. In BIM, when you place a door, you place a 3D element automatically appearing on sections, elevations, 3D views and on a door schedule with parameters already filled in. This saves the architect a lot of cost and resources, plus it enables them to accommodate clients’ tight deadlines, often providing them with more time to design. Time saves money and reduces programme; but having said that, I advise clients that this should not be the only factor for using BIM. Clients should think before tightening the programme too much and allow the speed aspect to not just reduce the programme, but provide more time for the designers to produce a better final outcome.
Although BIM software is not fully embraced in the early stages of design, concept architects can still use BIM to monitor the design during the process to ensure there is no dilution during the delivery stages. This would commonly happen using traditional methods, for example as each deliverable is drafted manually using 2D methods, which takes time to check and ensure the concept is followed. The ability to review a 3D model reduces this time down significantly and gives the Concept Architect reassurance that the design is being interpreted correctly.
BSBG’s concept team works closely with the delivery team to review the design through the delivery within Navis Works. People that are less familiar with BIM will perhaps try to tell you that Navis Works is just a clash detection tool, however, this is a great tool for early stage reviews, commenting and continued tracking/monitoring.
BIM software offers a number of new ways to communicate the design. It can be as technical or as interactive as you need it to be. A lot of architects can sometimes forget they are actually trained in architecture, whereas a lot of clients are not. Therefore, to have different presentation options available within the software helps to speed up client understanding of the design and also give much more reassurance.
BIM is a great way to work collaboratively with the entire design team. If used correctly, it allows you to check that the design is fully co-ordinated in a way that traditional methods could never have allowed for. This reduces error, which makes the process run much more smoothly as well as protecting the initial concept.
See my previous blog on clash detection for more details on this:
Human error is inevitable and should be expected. However, traditionally QA/QC procedures were pretty labour intensive and would involve a lot of time assigned to the checking of information produced by teams. BIM doesn’t mean you do not need to check information, but it means there is certain information that can be much more relied upon and other information that can be checked much quicker. The following is a good comparison:
If you have 8,000 doors within a design, traditionally you would have to check that each door is covered on the schedule. With BIM, if on the plan, you need not check that it is on the schedule. With the same example, traditionally you would also have to check each of those doors to ensure the door information – such as door type, fire rating, acoustic rating, insulation, protection, signage, etc. – are correct. Within BIM, you can apply filters to plans to show you where all the 1-hour fire rated doors are, or which doors have glazing, allowing you to very quickly scan a drawing to check it is correct. The best way to have checked this traditionally would have been to have two people locked away in a meeting room, one reading the door tag off the plan and the other reading the door information from the door schedule 8,000 times!
BSBG prides itself in efficient workflows, and the ‘options’ feature within BIM is one of these workflows. It is an incredibly efficient way of developing design but unfortunately it isn’t used anywhere near as much as it should be in our industry. The following is one of the best personal examples of what this tool is great: when I applied it in a workshop meeting during the design development of the branded corner of the Foster + Partners Central Market project in Abu Dhabi.
Through the use of ‘options’ I was able to project the model onto a screen, and in collaboration with the design team and the client we played with different options of the GRC patterns/locations. As the Aldar client turned away from the screen to suggest more GRC in an area, when he looked back the common phrase was ‘yes, like that’. This ability to anticipate comments and create options prior to the meeting allowed us to make live changes at the click of a button. As a result the meeting ran very smoothly and we left with a signed off design.
There are no projects without RFI’s. A good architect can minimise these, but there will always be a need for some clarification on the design. As you model the whole building in BIM, if there are gaps in the design information, it is very quick and easy to extract this from the model, even if the person extracting was not involved in the process from the concept stages.
In addition, if architects provide the model to the contractors/clients, they can extract the information out themselves without having to ask for confirmation.
BIM can help with the design process in being able to provide a much more considered design, from aesthetics, material selection, to access and maintenance and construction phasing. This allows the architects to provide a stronger product and therefore maintain their leading edge across the industry.
Refer to my previous blog on the BIM cycle to get more information on how BIM can be used at different stages.
Spatial requirements are just as important as the aesthetics of a space (if not more important). Through the use of perspective views, BIM can quickly and easily provide an in-depth understanding of the space being designed. This can be created at the click of a button.
Details in BIM are created in 2D, which is similar to the traditional methods. However, BIM works with a 3D model, allowing you to underlay the 3D to produce the detailing, making the process very efficient. Once a detail has been created, it can be constantly checked against the 3D design to monitor the design development. With the concept team reviewing the 3D design and the delivery team producing the details, this allows for great collaboration and protection of the design when detailing.