BIM or Building Information Modelling is a term thrown about with not much understanding of what it is. Essentially it is the process for creating (modelling) and then managing the information required to see a construction project through development to completion and beyond. The term modelling confuses many as they see BIM as purely a 3D tool in which you physically (albeit digitally) 'model' a design as if it were being constructed. However, as well as being a 3D tool, it means much more.
Fig.1 3D Axonometric of balcony detailing.
The governments 'BIM Task Group' says this "Our hypothesis is simple: that significant improvement in cost, value and carbon performance can be achieved through the use of open sharable asset information. We will also be helping the supply chain unlock more efficient and collaborative ways of work throughout the entire project and asset life-cycle end to end."
The quote sounds seductive to clients and the general public and yes it is driving the industry to challenge itself, which is a good thing, but one of the most difficult factors we have found is having a team with the same standards, with the same vision, and willing to collaborate in a closer way than traditional development.
We have leapt into Revit to begin the BIM process but our first projects only went so far as making an efficient model to produce our own information. Slowly as Revit is becoming more popular we are beginning to see other consultants using the software. The only way the governments ambition will be realised is if the whole industry gets on board.
That being said, it has been a fantastic tool to visualise complex components, structures or bespoke features of a project. We can then clearly illustrate to clients, contractors, and the guys on site what we actually intend to build.
We are excited to see how far we can push BIM within our office as we know it is capable (within a team) of doing much more than architectural studies. It can potentially unlock costing models, structural analysis, and M&E services with features such as clash detection. The interesting thing is these programs are nothing new. Oscar Faber Group, now merged into AECOM, pioneered a software called Facet Ltd in the 1980's! which dealt with clash detection.
Fig 2. Structure of boat hoist.
Fig 3. Structural axonometric of boat house.