Using BIM in today’s context — can it be done?

Archicad_integrationUsing BIM in today’s context — can it be done, is it being done?
Face it, we’ve all heard the stories and seen the demo’s of these amazing models that require just a few clicks and, BIM! There’s data flying out at you; a fully working model that can translate to everything and works perfectly every time. But how realistic are these demos? Can this actually be accomplished with software available today and with our current BIM standards in South Africa? With Graphisoft® ArchiCAD distributed in Southern Africa by TotalCAD Solution Centre, BIM standards have been available in Southern Africa for around 20 years with focus on them coming with changes in international and local regulations. But what is BIM? Is it a set of standards for building, or is it more than that?

BIM (for our purposes) can be defined as Building Information Modelling. BIM is an amazing design informing and communication tool, that through standards can speed up your processes, productivity and profitability. In layman’s terms, it is not just a standard or set of rules that need to be followed but rather the process of developing a building from the beginning of the project life cycle with all available information, all the way to the facilities management and maintenance of the building, 10, 20 even 40 years down the line. It uses information from every aspect of the design, performance and structural capabilities. From the energy performance of a single piece of glass for a window to the load a steel beam can support, all of these factors are taken into account when using BIM.
Theory – Can a 3D model be built using software?

Kobus Spanenberg, a student from the University of the Free State, designed and built a 3D Model using ArchiCAD 18 & 19 as his BIM authoring tool. The task was to design according to the human ecological environment and to provide living conditions that support and uplift the environment. Even with student deadline pressure he still managed to build an actual model of his project by connecting his 3D model to a laser cutter to cut out the pieces needed, which he then assembled to shape his project.
(Click here to see the full case study)

The theory works. What about in practice? Are there actual projects that have used or are using an
informed BIM design in South Africa?

The KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV (K-RITH) building, part of the
Nelson R. Mandela Medical School in Durban, is just one of many such buildings. KZNCAD,
(TotalCAD’s sister company) was employed to create a 3D BIM model with information given to
them from the architects and various engineers (civil, mechanical, electrical, fire, etc) to assist
decision making and coordination to resolve problems they found that had gone undiscovered until
after the initial building process had begun. By using ArchiCAD to coordinate the consultants
drawings in a 3D environment with intelligent BIM Attributes assigned to all elements, it was simple to find the problems in the design and fix them while sending the consultants amended drawings and models in the format of their choice as ArchiCAD is an OpenBIM medium.
(Click here to see the full case study)


But we hear you ask, how to keep up with the changing standards without spending a fortune, or find the data for the modelling…


One of South Africa’s  thought leaders in BIM, Shawn B Hopkins of  the Group, strongly believes that design and documentation processes can become more accurately though making less instances of the same decision.
A South African company that specialises in creating BIM solutions for clients, BimBakery™ (part of LARGEarchitecture), have stressed the need for informed objects when designing BIM compliant buildings. The information gained from manufacturers regarding their products is essential in moving the industry forward. With their BIM.local database, a, ever-growing database of materials that contain performance data of objects from manufacturers such as Saint Gobain, Van Dyk, Corobrick and generic values; the BIM window solution and the BIM recipe solution, a BIM costing solution for ArchiCAD that allows for collaborating, evaluations and reporting, amongst others, they have made available all the tools you need to become BIM compliant inside ArchiCAD using local performance data.


Does your manufacturer give you the performance data of their products? We think it’s time they did.

There are levels of explorations that are working in practice beyond construction. With BIM
Authoring tools (Smart-XA, BimBakery), BIM Modelling services (KZNCAD, BimBakery) and
Service Providers available, the answers to “how does it all work?” are right in front of you.
BIM is not a 3D model, it’s the “I”, the information part of BIM, that makes a 3D model.



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