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BIM or No BIM, That’s The Question

Some time ago I was thinking of calling this article “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad BIM?”, but such a Shakespearean approach was neither here nor there. There are a lot of colleagues who still haven’t taken the plunge, and I didn’t want to end up being seen as some kind of evangelist for BIM because … I don’t believe in it.

I’ll say it loud and clear. I don’t believe in this BIM I’m constantly seeing on internet, which admittedly has many advantages but which also has many serious drawbacks. So let me explain what I consider to be the pros and cons of the matter. I hope it helps you.

  • BIM, no. Because it’s very complicated.

Modelling in BIM is not the same as doing a 3D. It’s complex and difficult. But then so is working out a building’s air-conditioning system, or solving a structural problem, and yet you do it. You’ve done much more difficult things than learning to use a mere computer programme.

  • BIM, yes. Because with the same or even a lesser degree of effort I can produce much more architectural documentation.

For those of us who have used AutoCAD 14, the first time you move a wall and see how all the other perspectives are automatically updated is an indescribable experience…

  • BIM, no. Because it has a high cost of implementation and maintenance.

Nearly all the software is free in Spain, but we still have to take the price into account. On the other hand, low cost and even truly free versions do exist of BIM software, even though they aren’t really at the same level as mainstream programmes.

  • BIM, yes. Because it’s use doesn’t depend on the scale of the project.

Obviously refurbishing an apartment isn’t going to justify buying a licence, but you don’t need to spend all your time building hotels and airports for BIM to be worth the outlay. The savings in time and the increase in productivity are considerable and will always be worth it.

  • BIM, no. Because there are no industry-wide standards.

No BIM DXF format exists that allows information to be exchanged between different actors. “There’s the Blablabla format!”, I hear you cry. But even if you do always have a set of plans that can be perfectly updated at the click of a mouse button, why should it bother you if the builder wants them in PDF?

  • BIM, yes. Because the amount of additional information that can be entered and extracted is enormous.

This is my favourite thing. If we set up a good model of our project, it should be enough to know that we have almost perfect, always updated measurements at our fingertips. But there’s much more than that beneath the surface.

  • BIM, no. Because it can’t design.

BIM was conceived, developed, and intended as a building tool. Architecture is much more, and it starts much earlier. Building engineers are boosted by BIM because they know perfectly well that it makes their job much easier. But what about we architects who like to design? How do we work with space? BIM experts hold fast to ontological mantras as rigid as HEB300 beams, based exclusively on building. But is that possible? I suppose it must be. It’s all information.

  • BIM, yes. For the very reason stated above: it’s all information.

And this is where I move into the sticky realms of my doctoral research. If we manage to translate space, which is for me the raw material of architecture, into information, we’ll be able to make it operational with new thought strategies for projects. From this new operational viewpoint, it would be very easy to seal up the cracks separating the architectural concept phase from the technical documentation phase, which is already based on information management.

If the penny hasn’t dropped yet, it turns out that BIM has more pros than cons

Postscript: If you’d like to know more about my doctoral research into data-based architecture, leave a comment and I’ll prepare more material.

Postscript 2: When I say data-based architecture, I’m not referring to parametricism, or generative design, or artificial intelligence. It’s something else.


Cover image:  Daisy BY-SA Vanessa Lollipop
Text translated by Andrew V. Taylor
Autor:
[Miguel Villegas] Soy arquitecto, editor y consultor en arquitextonica, docente en la Escuela de Diseño CEADE-Leonardo y además de desarrollar mi tesis doctoral sobre arquitectura informacional, me dedico a hacer arquitectura al servicio de las personas junto a Lourdes Bueno Garnica en villegasbueno arquitectura. Lourdes Bueno y Miguel Villegas.
  • Juan Manuel Saavedra - 9 September, 2020, 15:38

    Saludos, Miguel.

    Un muy grato texto, que ayuda a personas como yo, que aún tenemos pendiente la transición, pero vislumbramos la necesidad de mantenernos al día.

    Muchas gracias por brindarnos herramientas para la toma de ese decisión y saber a qué factores clave atender en el proceso via la disponibilidad de las herramientas.

    Me interesa mucho conocer el texto de la tesis, para continuar aprendiendo.

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