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BIM (“Building Information Modeling”)

Architects have traditionally generated designs using a number graphical or non graphical documents typically in the form of drawings sheets and schedules. Each piece of information is generated separately often by different authors and assembled with all the other sheets and documents to describe the building.


Co-ordinating these separate items of information is challenging under ideal circumstances. In today’s highly competitive environment, commercial pressures, time restraints and untimely decisions all compromise the ability of designers to successfully co-ordinate not only their own overlapping streams of information but also that of external consultants.


The advent of CAD while revolutionary in one sense did little to change this time honoured approach to information generation.


BIM takes a completely different approach. Instead of using multiple pieces of information to describe a single object, it requires that the designer produces a single source of information in the form of a virtual 3-D model of the building from which all the other project documentation is then extracted. Each consultant can link to this central model, upload their design solutions and test their current design strategies within the evolving BIM environment. This “single source” approach promises to greatly reduce co-ordination issues by default. For example - the ability of the software to automatically schedule elements reduces the risk of human error for repeat tasks such as measuring quantities and areas required for schedules and bills of quantities. Plans sections and elevations will always be describing the same virtual object. etc.


BIM also provides an informational legacy. The “embryonic” model developed during the design process can be maintained as living database that matures with the building. Building managers are thereby provided with the same “single source” of virtual real time data which can be used to inform or monitor future improvements to the existing building.

 

BIM is therefore not just a design tool, but a building management interface also and if accurately maintained has the capacity to provide informational narrative for the building from its initial conception until its final demolition.