When it comes to BIM – if you find it all to be a bit of a mystery, chances are you’re not alone. Here to demystify architecture’s digital revolution, and highlight a few of BIM’s tangible benefits – we’re joined by Computational Designer, Chris Welch.
Architecture’s digital revolution encompasses an array of topics including advances in what can be digitally modelled, in what can be physically constructed, and in how we think about documentation. BIM (Building Information Modelling) encompasses a number of these concepts.
At its core is the idea that a 3D model should not simply be a static representation of an object in space. Rather, the object could have associated with it any number of additional fields containing useful information – from cost, to installation instructions, maintenance and material information, and electrical requirements.
“All of this additional information allows those who are relying on the BIM model to make informed decisions about what is best for a specific project, and for the cost of changes to the plan to be easily quantified.”
Additionally, BIM Objects may be parametric – allowing Architects to intuitively work with products that may have a large number of different customisation options.
“Correctly constructed parametric objects, imbued with the right information, allow Architects to quickly identify the possibilities and limitations of systems and products, facilitating high quality design.”
This digital revolution is not just about creating robust BIM models. Engineers and Architects are beginning to see the benefit of computer programming in the workplace, and as a result – an explosion of intuitive, specialised software tools are being produced, aimed squarely at the building industry.
Visual programming languages, notably Grasshopper (for Rhino 3D) and Dynamo (for Revit) are at the forefront of this movement. These plug-ins allow users to access and automate processes in an intuitive visual way – doing everything from complex 3D modelling, to interfacing with Google Docs, CNC Routers, or Arduino microcontrollers.
“Using these same tools, Architects and Designers can automate documentation, or use a building information model itself as the basis of a digital fabrication process.”
Wellington startup Makers of Architecture are using Dynamo and Grasshopper to produce CNC router paths directly out of the Revit model that they are designing their buildings in.
“Using this process, the team can accurately and quickly scope the cost of the digital fabrication process, from the number of sheets that they are using all the way down to the total amount of tooling time required. These numbers can be dynamically updated at any time, allowing for a process of iteration and testing over the course of the design process.”
These tools are being used to solve complex problems and optimise tasks that simplify the documentation and construction process, allowing Architects to design, document and build things that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
Huge swaths of the work we currently busy ourselves with can be automated, transforming a laborious, bordering on impossible, task into a short checklist of programs to run on each model.
Read more: Beginner’s Guide to Python in Autodesk Revit