Posted on 11/05/2013

This was the third time that BIM Show Live has been held and although this was my first time in attendance. The word was that it was to be significantly bigger and better than the previous shows.  BIM stands for Building Information Modelling and I’ll be honest and say that before I attended the show that was about the level of my knowledge!  Whilst I still couldn’t tell you the intimate details of COBie and PAS1192, I am now at least aware of their existence.

BIM is much more than just architectural CAD.  It is very much about driving the use of 3D all the way through the building process.  The show was set-up with four separate streams of talks: Define and Validate, Design and Prototype, Manufacture and Assemble, and Operate and Maintain.  These streams go a long way in describing the full impact of BIM (I might add that the use of BIM has been made mandatory by the UK Government with effect from 2016).  One interesting fact that I picked up on, is that in the life of a building the costs are 2% initial design, 34% construction, but 64% on-going running and maintenance costs.  This helps to explain why there is the desire to gather more 3D information at the latter stages of the process and not just in the initial design.

In terms of software tools to aid the process, it would seem that the undisputed leader is Autodesk Revit (to the extent that one of the talks actually stated that BIM does not necessarily equal Revit and vice versa).  The other products in the area that seem to have a slightly lower profile are Graphisoft Archicad, Bentley Microstation and Nemetschek Vectorworks.  All were mentioned at various times over the two days, but Revit came across as the industry standard.

As someone who had aspirations to be an architect, it was fascinating for me to see some of the projects that were being shown.  The Marina Mall in Doha designed by HOK Architects was a particularly impressive project with a huge scale and complicated designs.  Due to the complex curvatures of the building it wasn’t possible for Revit to model this, so the architect was using a combination of Revit and Rhino.  Impressive results were shown, and although not yet built the CG renderings suggest this will be an amazing retail experience.  Another project that was shown was the Broad Art Museum in the US.  This time it was all about straight lines and manufacturing very complicated steel roof sections.  In order to make this process efficient the architect was working in Dassault Catia and Revit – Catia being an unusual choice in this field.  However, as I heard from another speaker it is vital that your designs are not limited by your choice of software – you cannot be dictated to in that manner.


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