This week Team V’s focus is on BIM. With in-house lectures, activities and demonstrations, our team is immersed in the world of the Building Information Model. The driving force behind this theme week is João Carolino, Team V’s BIM expert.
What is BIM?
BIM stands for Building Information Model. It is a method to process all kinds of information in a digital 3D model and to share it with other parties. For example, with technical consultants, the client or the contractor. Team V works with Revit, but there is also other software that you can use for BIM. By exporting the models to one common format, the IFC (Industry Foundation Classes), models from different parties can be combined and synchronized with each other. It ensures a more efficient design process, partly because design errors are detected in earlier stages.
What is the role of a BIM expert?
My main task is to help develop strategies and protocols so that everyone within Team V builds their 3D model in the same way. I do this together with my colleagues from the BIM expert team. The expert team is responsible for in-house knowledge sharing, such as organizing this BIM-themed week. We ensure that everyone at Team V has a certain level of knowledge of our BIM software. Unlike my fellow experts, I do not work on one particular project, but I keep an overview of all projects. My colleagues can come to me at any time with questions about Revit and BIM. The expert team is also responsible for developing new, clever tools which enable us to do our work faster and more efficiently, so that the design team can spend more time on designing buildings rather than on figuring out the challenges of the software.
What kind of clever tools do you develop?
Mostly tools that have been specifically developed for design issues that we encounter at Team V. For Boompjes Rotterdam for example, we have developed a tool to count the various façade elements. The facades of this building consist of many different types of elements, which can turn out to be very expensive. The tool helps us to optimize the facade design, and therefore cut the costs. We have also developed a tool to make an extremely fast export from Revit to IFC, specified per building part. Before we had this tool, you first had to go through a whole step-by-step plan. Now you can do it with the push of a button and you know for sure that the correct information for each component ends up in the file. This saves us a lot of time.
Why is it necessary to develop your own tools? Doesn’t Revit offer useful tools?
Our own tools are often very specific. Sometimes there is something similar available, but usually it is more efficient to develop something yourself. Revit is actually made to support this. Everyone can develop their own tools and write scripts with the free development software of Dynamo and Python. There is a large online community that shares knowledge on Revit forums. I like to roam these forums, looking for smart solutions and tips that I can combine to improve our own tools. It’s actually a kind of hobby.
So you have turned your hobby into a profession?
Not really, rather the other way around. I was trained as an architect in Portugal. For four years, I worked as an architect in Austria on various housing projects, regularly encountering the limitations of Revit software. Out of frustration I started to develop my own tools. I liked that so much that I decided to temporarily stop working to fully concentrate on studying Dynamo. When Team V had a vacancy for a structural engineer with in-depth knowledge of Dynamo and Revit, this turned out to be a great opportunity for me. The best thing about Team V is that they give me and the expert team the time and space to research and develop new tools. In previous jobs I had to do this in my free time. Team V considers our work as an investment in the future of the office. We do our best to be on top of the latest developments.
What are the latest developments in BIM?
For example, we are experimenting with Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) with Enscape software. With VR you enter a different, virtual world, while AR puts an extra virtual layer over the real world. We are not the only ones doing this, many architectural firms are experimenting with VR glasses. I particularly like Augmented Reality. By scanning a QR code with your tablet or telephone, you can, for example, bring a 2D floor plan to life. Or you can stand in an empty building structure and see the future interior on your tablet. This is fantastic for clients, because they immediately get an idea of the possibilities of the space. And of course it is also very interesting for us to see the immediate effect of our designs.