What is BIM ? – 3D Architectural Modelling and BIM Software Explained


Inside a 3D virtual room

Inside a 3D virtual room

Architectural 3D Modelling is something that an Architect is familiar with, especially if the designer is well-versed with software like ArchiCAD. Engineering design also involves a lot of computer-based 3D modelling. When it comes to BIM, an acronym for Building Information Modelling, you have to imagine an architectural modelling platform that is open to other members of the construction team besides the architect. This means that anyone who is involved in the project, or anybody who has an interest in the project (for example, the local community) can access this platform to contribute their expertise, give suggestions or view the virtual building in its completed state.

To get a better understanding of BIM, you have to imagine a 3D virtual video game. There are many 3D virtual games that you can play on your PC or video console, for example Google Earth 6 Street View, Apollo 11, Dreadhalls, Dungeons & Dragons and The VOID.

Among 3D virtual games, there are single player games and multiplayer games (MMOGs).An architect working alone on a building model is like a single player game, and a building model where several members of the project team contribute to/or affect the design is like a multiplayer MMO game. The BIM environment involves multiple players (collaborators). However unlike in a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), where users can assume any role, in a BIM environment you have actual specialists in various disciplines working on the model. For example, Architects work on the architectural aspects, Structural Engineers work on the structural aspects, Environmental Planners will assess the environmental conditions, Civil Engineers will design the drainage/water supply plan and Interior Designers will prescribe some suitable fittings, finishes, decorations and furniture. All these specialists are applying their specifications and prescriptions in relation to the 3D model. They have to find conflicts across the disciplinary specifications, and work out a solution. Compromises will be made and alternatives will be suggested before the final drawings are printed and issued to the Building Contractor. BIM allows the project team to foresee challenges and issues in the virtual model prior to the construction phase. On its own, BIM is a useful tool for performing feasibility studies across various fields on a centralized system.

The building contractor will assess the architectural model with a view of finding the most practical building methods gained from experience i.e. scaffolding, hoisting material, site access, logistics, movement and circulation.

The owner will log into the virtual platform to view the state of the virtual building in the planning and design stage. He or she can suggest changes to the aesthetics and layout of elements, as well as the quality and type of material used.

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