The use of Building Information Modeling software, for friends BIM, is changing the modus operandi of architectural firms. Simplify project management and rationalize economics, communication and sustainability.
It is a revolution that began a few years ago and, as often happens with new technologies, it serves to do things better, faster and with fewer errors. But the transition to the digital model is not easy, because BIM transforms relationships within the project team.
We asked Laura Tiburzi, BIM manager from Mario Cucinella Architects and National Lead for Women at BIM, to explain how the use of BIM concretely changes the work of architects.
What is BIM?
The definition of BIM is “a process of development and analysis of virtual multi-dimensional models generated digitally by means of computer programs”.
Any project is a collection of information. Information concerning purely shapes, dimensions, geometries. But also the materials, the performances, the dates and times, the people of reference and their role. A large amount of data that until the advent of BIM was collected in a disordered and non-rational way.
Post it, pdf, annotations, paper documents created a series of risks both in terms of duplication of information and in terms of consistency. A simple example: if a team engineer decides to move a pillar for structural reasons, the architect needs to know in time real, otherwise he will continue to work on an outdated project.
Using BIM this risk is eliminated. Each player is informed of what is happening, the information is shared and all data, despite being public, remains the property of the person who generated it.
What are the concrete advantages of BIM in architecture?
From the construction to the decommissioning of a work, from the concept to the economic and structural details, BIM is a true virtual alter ego of the real building. Obviously, the human factor is essential for it to be useful. digitization is necessary, but it also needs to be carefully integrated into the culture of each professional sector.
Among architects, for example, there is an irrational fear that the machine limits creativity or even eliminates it. Not so: in fact, the use of BIM has so many advantages that it should be used in every construction project, large or small. Because concretely allows you to avoid errors and unexpected events, which are typically the reason for non-compliance with estimates.
With BIM we foreshadow the problems in the design phase, not on the construction site where it costs a lot to remedy.
How do you exorcise the fear of losing the most creative part of the project along the way?
The solution is competence in the use of digital tools. It is not easy to get there and it costs time, money and resources. Thinking about creative freedom in the context of some of the rules we have set ourselves is reassuring, not scary. Software is not a solution, it does what we tell it. For this reason the skills of architects are changing, they are more hybrid. And young architects are also selected on the basis of their methodological and technological skills.
In reality, everything we are doing in the construction sector is not new, it comes long after aerospace engineering and mechanical. All those fields in which it is necessary to work on a prototype to improve it are within the scope of BIM. We are learning some useful approaches to architecture and are applying them more and more massively thanks to the mediation work of experienced people. Small note: most of them are women, perhaps more skilled in facilitating dialogue between different realities.
What is the difference between BIM and parametric design?
Parametric design uses variable information to generate solutions. It is a design tool: it increases the possibilities that we are able to manipulate and manage. BIM can integrate parametric design into its processes.
We ourselves in the studio are striving to work on a fragile point: moving from some parametric tools to typical BIM tools. And here there is a data drop, because the two software do not communicate even though they are both parametric.
Is the use of information and digital models useful for having more sustainable behaviors?
It is the natural consequence of what has been said so far: the information collected foresees, monitors and manages everything that revolves around sustainability. Not only environmental, but also human. From a practical point of view, the life cycle is much more controllable through BIM which is able to give a precise picture of materials and construction processes.
Why does BIM help build human-centered buildings?
I have a very humanistic view of technological issues. Data alone is noise, without management and reading we are surrounded by the dustbin. But culturally well managed they are a mine of potential. And to use the data well you have to ask the right questions. At the center there is therefore a humanistic aspect that is cultural and process.
Who is the customer? What needs do you have? And we don't always talk about explicit clients, but the effort I have to make as a designer is to think about the complexity of users and users to design sensible buildings. And then technology has an important human aspect that concerns the relationships with the team, because we work in a heavily interconnected way. We need to stretch our soft skills, to train the ability to interact with different seniorities, specializations, different human natures.