Like many practices, we rely on Building Information Modelling (BIM) for all our design & documentation workflow.
One of the coolest things about BIM is its ability to generate extremely accurate visualisations of design concepts. If you put the effort into modelling the materials properly (right down to the correct profiles and textures), how it looks in reality can end up being extremely close to how it looks on the drawing board.
To demonstrate what I am talking about, here are a few before (renders or screenshots) and after (real life) views of two recently completed projects.
The street facade of ALTA had two distinctive material palettes, with a recessed core.
Without modelling the building in 3D we would not have had as clear an understanding the bulk and scale we were proposing. The visualisations helped us be certain that the 4th storey setback, was not imposing when viewed from the street. And the sun path modelling allowed to see how light and shadow affected the appearance of the north facing facade throughout the day.
The design for the rear facade involved assembling precast panels with expressed joints and shadowlines.
Modelling everything in 3D helped us be certain that the precast concrete shop drawings were dimensioned correctly and were consistent with the design intent.
In the interiors of ALTA, we used plywood on the ceilings to create a sense of length and continuity. The mechanical services had to disappear, and the ceiling heights maximised.
Because our building information model was the source of documentation, we drew everything in 3D. From the ceiling planes and material thicknesses, to the joint locations in the plywood soffits, to the appliances, light fittings, keypads, tapware and even the power sockets.
HEY House is our most recently completed project where we experimented with use raw structure as the finished material surface.
To be certain of our design and the communication of it on-site, we modelled the raw structure as accurately as possible, right down to placing each block and formwork panel!
On the second storey, the external blinds played an important role in providing sun and privacy control.
By modelling the blind assembly accurately, we were able to confirm not only the quantity and length of each blade, but the gain a greater understanding of the play of light and shade with various blade rotations on the exterior and interior surfaces.
Here is the view from inside looking through the blind out over the courtyard.
Finally, notice how we modelled the steel balustrading and wall cladding, right down to rib depth and railings. By being precise and paying close attention to material profiles and textures, we we were able to "get a feel" for the play of light and shadow on the cladding and become confident in using metal cladding internally.
In both projects, the effort put into to modelling the materials accurately was definitely worth it. The end result was clarity not only for us and the client, but the trades on-site, as the visualisations were included in the drawings issued to site and used to communicate the intent of our detailed designs.
why bim is so important
We think Building information modelling is a vital component in any building project, no matter the scale. This article has only touched on a few of the reasons, but in summary:
It gives all stakeholders certainty that the design "works" and is likely to satisfy client and end user expectations. At the most basic level, the look and feel of a project is established visually before committing to the build. By modelling a building volumetrically, an understanding of seasonal solar access can be achieved.
It also creates a foundation for great quality construction documentation - particularly when the material and building structure is modelled accurately. Manual drafting is fast and simple, but lacks the accuracy of being generated from three dimensional objects.
BIM is an essential tool, that makes the whole design and building process more productive.