In the swim with BIM

PebbleBeach-COAThe BIM Institute proudly hosted its first BIM BAM BOOM event in Durban last month, which gave the team the opportunity to scout the local construction scene. Several major private developments are breaking ground in North of Durban, which continue to change the Umdloti and Umhlanga shorelines. The Pebble Beach Resort stood out to the team, who followed up with Will Flint,  Associate at Craft of Architecture (COA) to investigate where the company currently is with adopting Building Information Modelling (BIM) processes.

The Pebble Beach projectPebble-Beach-sibaya

The team at COA is using ArchiCAD for numerous exciting new projects in KZN, particularly the Pebble Beach project.

“This is the first project that we have truly taken beyond the awesome 3D presentation capability of ArchiCAD – we are pushing for truly holistic BIM model between all the design team.”

He goes on to explain that they are in the early stages of coordinating the SiVest Structural team’s Revit model and importing it into our ArchiCAD via IFC as a single coordinated BIM model.

“We are also running a data exchange process using the IFC Format to provide our model to the QS team to take off accurate quantities using their programme, DimensionX. This process is a daunting challenge for us, especially due to the fact that we are trying to implement this during the course of a real project, which is rapidly moving forward to construction.”

However, Flint feels that this is “the future of collaboration” and an important aspect of the company’s development, which it is keen to invest in.

“It is very exciting to be putting this process to the test for a very real life project.

The vision

According to Flint, COA is working towards the ultimate BIM goal of seamlessly connecting the stages of a project, together with glitch-free integration with its QS teams Structural, Mechanical, Civil and Electrical Engineers and the rest of the consultant team.


“We use BIM processes as a vital tool that connects our initial concept models and presentations to our construction detailing and site monitoring work, right through to the snagging process and close-out of the project post construction.”

COA-logoThe beginning

COA has made the move from 2D CAD to 3D BIM using ArchiCAD, which has been adopted over the last three years. It initially implemented it on a large-scale renovation and expansion of the American International School in Mozambique and since 2014 / 2015 the team has rolled it out on all its new developments – from large-scale master-planning through to its interiors work.

And now?

“We use BIM for all aspects of a project right from the initial design concept through to detailed design, construction and post-construction as-built information and providing the client with accurate and detailed information for their Operating and Maintenance manuals,” asserts Flint.

“Our use of BIM is very much an ongoing ‘work in process’, but where we have already achieved significant improvements to our company productivity is in the development of an automated drawing revision and change register, using layout books combined into a single master file, which has saved us a huge amount of time in documenting larger projects,” details Flint.

And the BIM engagement doesn’t end there.

“We have also started to work in 3D on site using tablet based app (BIMX), which has been an extremely successfulBIMX_image communication tool between consultants, client and contractors on site.

COA’s particular strength comes from its background with high quality presentation imagery.

“Where before we adopted BIM we would take a 2D cad plan, work up the 3D model in Sketch-up, export to 3DS Max for presentation images, we are now excited to be able to connect all these processes using a single ArchiCAD BIM model, in conjunction with other software to produce photographic quality renderings at key concept stages for client presentations, and take this exact same design and model through to construction.”

Flint goes on to say that they have developed their own internal 3D detail and graphic library, which assists them with seamless productivity, so that they can turn around large volumes of work in very short timeframes to meet client’s expectations.

Looking forward, COA is investing considerable time to develop its design coordination processes with consultants at stage 3.

“We believe this will benefit the whole team as well as the client when projects move onto site, and provide a valuable long-term resource for the client after handover for their future maintenance of the buildings.”


The conversation ended with Flint expanding on the who is walking the BIM path with them.

“We have fostered a great working relationships with Graphisoft SA, who have recently provided sponsorship for our company’s soccer team strip. We have also been in regular contact with other ArchiCAD BIM users in South Africa, particularly Shawn Hopkins from LARGE Architecture in Durban, with whom we are joining forces to pool our knowledge and resources to push the development of our BIM capabilities. We are very excited to develop these partnerships in the coming year.”


Development Details
Pebble Beach, Sibaya
Developer: Waters Blue Investments

Total site area: 14,000m2 of bulk

Total number of units

There are a 160 units comprising of luxury studios, 1,2 and 3-bedroom apartments and penthouses.

Residential facilities

  • Rooftop putting green
  • Rock climbing walls
  • Jungle gym and play area
  • Waterslide
  • Three swimming pools
  • Rooftop clubhouse
  • 24-hour state-of-the-art security
  • Beach access
  • Forest walkways