I’ve Got a Revit and I Won’t Hesitate to Use it
“With great power comes great responsibility”, as Spiderman’s alter ego Peter Parker was told by his Uncle Ben.
The introduction of BIM methodology into the world of architecture is undoubtedly such a powerful phenomenon that it is probably only comparable to the huge leap forward the move from hand-drawn to computer assisted plans represented in its day.
There may be some people for whom talk of BIM still sounds futuristic, but the truth is that it now constitutes not only the future but also the present. Just as we now consider it inconceivable to complete a whole project using charcoal drawings on parchment paper when we can copy and paste as often as we want, future generations of architects will consider having to draw elevations and section views in 2D as a throwback to the Jurassic period when they can obtain them straight from a plan view.
The possibility of generating as many section and perspective views as you want with just a click of the mouse allows those with less refined three-dimensional awareness to understand spaces with an ease and agility that would otherwise be impossible. But this immediacy may also lead to a gradual loss of architects’ control over the construction process and reduce our capacity for theoretical reflection.
A few years ago, if you made a mistake when copying a ground plan, you had to do the whole thing again, even though you might having been working on it for hours or even days. Now, mistakes can be corrected with a simple “control+z”. That exponentially increases productivity in our work, without question, but it also minimises the time we spend maturing the ideas we come up with.
Something similar occurs with infographics. In the visual age we are now immersed in, renders are an extremely powerful tool of communication with potential customers, but it would be a serious mistake to forget that architecture is not only a “pretty face”. In addition to an ability to think up stunning spaces, an architect should be equally capable of making those spaces physically real afterwards. We have to know what holds buildings up and how they are built. Otherwise, we will be reliant on software and unable to control the process that starts with an idea and ends with a buildable (and built) reality.
Any BIM software we decide to use should therefore be seen as a tool, a very powerful tool capable of making our work easier and saving time. But we should always keep in mind the famous slogan that “power is nothing without control”.
Architecture students should learn to produce renders worthy of publication in journals and do their projects using BIM as soon as possible. That will most certainly save them time and effort. But they should not neglect a good grounding in the basics of composition, structures, construction, and material properties, which will ultimately allow them to design with full control over what they are doing, aided by but not dependent on a very useful work tool.
“I’ve got a Revit and I won’t hesitate to use it”. But let’s not forget another advertising slogan: “Use in moderation, responsibly”.