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Building Information Modeling in Architecture and Construction

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is an advanced software modeling which offers immense benefits to the architecture and the construction industries. It has changed the way architects and construction engineers approach building design as it provides powerful tools that enhance creation of dynamic design and streamlined structures that stand the test of time.

The adoption of technology in the construction industry led to the introduction of 3D solid modeling in the late 1970s even though some other industries had started using 3D products at the time. The use of 3D modeling in the construction industry was hindered by the cost of computing power and the adoption of CAD.

However, the construction industry later discovered the benefits inherent in 3D modeling and some sectors in the industry started utilizing the parametric 3D modeling. The dedication of practitioners in the industry to BIM in the last 20 years has yielded result as numerous BIM tools are now available in the industry. The industry has now begun to reap the benefits offered by technological advancement after discovering that the two dimensional drawings are prone to errors and contradictions, leading to complexities of designs.

Hence, the 21st century architect and building engineer must be able to deal with a rapid pace technological change, a highly interconnected world, and complex problems that require multidisciplinary solutions. 

What is Building Information Modeling?

In architecture, engineering and construction, BIM is a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a building. It is the development and use of a computer software model to stimulate the construction and operation of a facility, in order to make decisions and improve the process of delivering the facility. 

BIM is a process that improves how architects and engineers design and construct buildings. Through BIM authoring tools, architects can create a digital 3D model of the building, allowing them to see a representation of what it will look like and how it will operate from the design stage to construction, commissioning, ownership, management, operation, maintenance use, demolition and reuse of built assets. The data developed by BIM through the lifecycle of a construction project can be used to create:

  • parametric relationships and model element dependency;
  • computational design;
  • space planning;
  • energy analysis;
  • light and daylight analysis;
  • display complex spatial relationships;
  • calculate the cost and number of required building materials;
  • virtual conflict detection and resolution; and
  • extended Reality.

Benefits of Building Information Modeling

BIM offers massive benefits in the architecture and construction industry both directly and indirectly. It enables ease of information exchange across the entire value chain; saves time and cost; improves quality; creates clarity and accountability in decision making, increased sustainability; and improved end-user/customer satisfaction.

  • BIM improves collaboration and creates efficiency in workflow.
  • Architecture has been manually intensive as architects, structural engineers and builders all need to view different pieces of information and use different design templates. Different models must then be made to show clients. When any changes are made, care needs to be taken that all documentation is updated.

    BIM creates opportunity for architects, structural engineers and builders to access information in the format that they need without having to create different models. This means that the edits made in one format are automatically propagated throughout the system, removing the need to update different drafts as plans progress. Approaching design through database storage further removes the need to manually produce most other end-product design documents such as schedules, colour filled diagrams, drawings and 3D models. Hence, through BIM, greater iteration can be embraced during the design phase; teams are allowed to work more collaboratively and are no longer required to waste time cross-checking documentation and files; specialists are more easily able to provide input across all areas of a project; the amount of time it takes to develop a plan is reduced; and workflows will produce fewer errors and require less oversight.    

  • BIM enhances visualisation prior to construction.
  • 3D visuals generated via BIM provide clarity on the product to various stakeholders, thus providing them sufficient visibility of the practical challenges. It enables you to design plans and then present them for review by clients or others without specialised architectural training and without extra planning. The 3D model created allows open accessibility, enabling anyone to explore or even edit, if they have the correct permission. This helps design teams, modellers and architects become more proactive in their workflow with clients on construction projects.

  • It enables easier project management.
  • BIM enables a user to observe the model in a seventh dimension called the life-cycle facility management view. This display shows expected operational costs for the building once it’s completed. With this, the user can make wise design decisions that will lead to greater cost savings and simpler building maintenance for you in the future.

  • It reduces waste and cost.
  • BIM allows users to resolve coordination issues. It produces a near ‘zero-defect’ design and predicts the material required more accurately, leading to reduced wastage on site during the construction and maintenance processes.

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