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BIM’s Transformative Impact and Future Trends in Architecture

By: Walid Alkhatib, Assystem

Remarkable how digital transformation led by BIM is defying the limitation of imagination, opening a new section in the theory of design, and converting simple conceptual architectural design to a sophisticated organic, Biomorphic, generative design. Architectural firms like Zaha Hadid Architects and Mad Architects develop their conceptual design by using tools that are part of the BIM cycle. Grasshopper for Rhino and Dynamo for Revit are visual programming tools that extend the conceptual sketches to a digital reality with multiple options to select from. BIM is not only limited to the conceptual part of the architectural design but also breaching construction to the handing over stage, going through all phases of design, sustainability, constructability, and value engineering, covering all ten dimensions of BIM workflow.

KAFD metro station - BIM vs reality
Figure 1: KAFD metro station – BIM vs reality

Why BIM for Architecture?

Formulating a conceptual design based on the client’s requirements is not an easy task for architects, in parallel with ensuring the usability, constructability, and exquisiteness of the design.

All information is clear for all parties
Figure 2: All information is clear for all parties

In this, BIM plays a vital role in covering all those requirements by breaching all the gaps between stages, gaining more clarity on project details, better visualisation of design options, and greater transparency between teams.

BIM Benefits for Architects

Collaboration between all parties under BIM
Figure 3: Collaboration between all parties under BIM

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a challenge that must be fully understood for a surprisingly simple reason: it is fundamentally a form of systems thinking. A comprehensive system designed to facilitate communication between architects, engineers, clients, and construction companies, BIM uses common standards and shared knowledge. Ask anyone who has worked on a construction site or in a manufacturing process; they tell you how hard it is to imagine a complex system. Managing a business or process system comes with its own set of challenges that often lead to massive inefficiencies. Managers need more perspective to see these issues. What makes BIM a game changer in the construction industry is that, when implemented well, it is an integrated and open system. Although BIM may seem intimidating at first, it is transforming construction.

 

  • Enhanced detailing that includes all disciplines
    Figure 4: Enhanced detailing that includes all disciplines

    Transparency: between architects, suppliers, and clients, rather than having to spend time reacting to inquiries from each party approximately what everybody else is doing, this data is openly accessible to each party, in a collaborative manner, viewing all modelling/design issues of all disciplines bounded by the project Architectural design and standards.

  • Better Collaboration: Although the term “collaboration” is often used interchangeably, the advantages of BIM are well known, especially in the construction sector. One of BIM’s primary objectives is to foster collaboration by building consistent information models across the entire design and construction lifecycles, as well as increasing standardisation. This results in less wasted time and fewer costly project revisions. The building information models enable members of different teams to communicate with each other regularly and coordinate their designs, systems, and structures. This allows them to better understand what others are working on, as well as how far along they are in their work. This collaborative process is inextricably linked to BIM’s time-saving benefits.
  • Enhanced Detail: BIM is not just about sharing information. It is also about quality. This is another area in which BIM is going to revolutionise the industry. The level of detail in BIM models is way beyond what we’ve seen in the construction industry before. This level of detail includes information on the precise make, model, and specifications, as well as quantities and materials of everything that goes into a building.

BIM: Virtual to Reality through the 10 D’s

BIM 10D workflow
Figure 5: BIM 10D workflow

Architects’ conceptual design will see the light, turning it from a virtual world to a real one by going through the BIM workflow processes revolutionising the AEC industry (2020 McKinsey Report). Pre-defined BIM dimensions are used to add specific parameters to a 3D model to optimise it for various use cases (project stage or complexity).

Architects benefit thoroughly from BIM workflow by depending on the needs expressed, the stakeholder will define up to 10 dimensions to schematise the heterogeneity of the information data of the work. Each level offers a view of the characteristics of the project, time, costs, sustainability, management, etc. Using BIM dimensions offers a major advantage in the design of a building and contributes to its management throughout its life.

TestFit AI-BIM program for urban planning
Figure 6: TestFit AI-BIM program for urban planning

AI-BIM

AI-BIM cut time and effort
Figure 7: AI-BIM cut time and effort

The potential of integrating AI into BIM lies in its ability to address various limitations. AI can analyse extensive data, spot patterns, and predict outcomes, helping architects enhance their plans and schedules. Machine learning algorithms can suggest improvements based on past projects, and computer vision can convert 2D blueprints into detailed 3D models.

For architects working on Urban planning AI-BIM tools work on generative-based design. Planning urban configuration based on local laws, regulations, and GIS existing site. Programs like TestFit, Autodesk Forma, Digital Blue Foam, and Sidewalk Labs are based on the AI-BIM in the field of Urban design and planning, visualising it using information, automation, and generative design with the machine learning tool to explore multiple design options with all surrounding aspects visualised.

Virtual tour by Beamo’s digital twin technology
Figure 8: Virtual tour by Beamo’s digital twin technology

For Architects working on conceptual designs AI-BIM tools work on visualising the building from the conceptual stage by visualising the prompt text into an editable model providing multiple options to start from, while in the design development stage, AI-BIM helps automate the repetitive task. Increases efficiency and accuracy better enhances risk management Improves collaboration and enhances sustainability.

VR/AR – Visualising Architectural design under the BIM system

The field of architecture and design has always relied heavily on visualising concepts to bring ideas to life, architects and designers have continually sought innovative ways to create immersive representations of their vision. In recent years, the emergence of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies has revolutionised the way professionals in the industry approach visualisation, Representing all parameters and aspects of BIM from recording the design processes and comparing the actual with the planned and visualising the future.

VR AR - Architects mixed reality
Figure 9: VR/AR – Architects mixed reality

Digital Twin

AEC industry is adapting the “Digital Twin Technology” during construction and after handing over where architects can give a tour to their client during construction like the exercise that happened in “Roche pharmaceuticals company headquarters, Switzerland” where it was easy for the project stakeholders to go around the project but not being physically there. The ability to enhance virtual models with real-time data enables firms to anticipate issues and fine-tune designs. What Digital Twin provides architects is seamless connections between people and software leading to better collaboration, and fearless innovation.

Conclusion

BIM offers enormous possibilities, and it seems that there is no turning back from this methodology. The implementation of BIM is certainly a big step towards technological development and the way of thinking about the entire project life cycle. The construction industry is changing, and architects can benefit from it on many levels, as long as they can properly use the opportunities that come from working in the BIM methodology.

NEOM a dream come true
Figure 10: NEOM a dream come true

We are at a point where the majority of the buildings are being crafted digitally. In many countries, BIM is the government mandate for all public projects, whereas in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia directs regional stakeholders, officials, municipalities & corporations to consider Building information technology as a priority to deliver megaprojects like NEOM, Qiddiya, Diriyah & the Red Sea Achieving the goals of 2030 vision, crafting the built environment future of this nation into an iconic one.

Walid Alkhatib, Assystem

BIM Manager

Walid Alkhatib is a BIM Manager at Assystem, a global engineering company. He specializes in implementing BIM processes for construction projects, ensuring collaboration and efficiency. With expertise in BIM software, Walid delivers high-quality results that exceed client expectations.

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