What is BIM and Why Does it Seem to be Fundamental in the Current Architectural Design?


Cortesía de Gonzalo De la Parra

Cortesía de Gonzalo De la Parra

BIM (Building Information Modeling) is a methodology that allows architects to create digital design simulations to manage all the information associated with an architectural project.

While CAD creates 2- or 3-dimensional drawings that don’t distinguish between their elements, BIM incorporates 4-D (time) and 5-D (costs). This allows users to manage information intelligently throughout the life cycle of a project, automating processes such as programming, conceptual design, detailed design, analysis, documentation, manufacturing, construction logistics, operation and maintenance, renovation and/or demolition. 

In any design and construction project there are an unlimited number of participants, as well as infinite interactions between parties. The projects are multidisciplinary and include information that is not necessary to all involved. So who is responsible for what in each project? How far does my responsibility go and where does yours start? BIM helps to order the complexity of this process. 

It is important to clarify the difference between BIM and programs such as Revit®, ArchiCAD®, AllPlan® and others: BIM is a working system, while Revit®, ArchiCAD®, and AllPlan® are software with which BIM is compatible. The two complement each other and allow the architect’s work to be carried out efficiently.


Cortesía de Gonzalo De la Parra

Cortesía de Gonzalo De la Parra

Projects modeled in BIM can include the real products and materials that will be used to build them, incorporating their geometry, characteristics and cost into the model, as well as contact information to acquire them once they have been approved.

Suppliers play a fundamental part in a project since they hold the key to which materials are available. BIM can be understood, then, as a kind of catalog of modeled materials, improving the way in which the technical specifications of the project are transferred to those in charge of building it.


Cortesía de Gonzalo De la Parra

Cortesía de Gonzalo De la Parra

There are websites that house huge libraries of products, allowing you to download specific models to be immediately incorporated into your architecture project, and thus save the time that the subsequent specification would take. With all this information loaded, the system not only improves the quality of the work but also decreases decision making and last minute changes during the construction process, addressing problems virtually and lowering the overall costs of a project.

In addition, each of the elements has its own attributes and is related specifically and parametrically with the other objects of the project: if one of these objects is modified, those that depend on it will also change automatically. 


Trespa Meteon cladding, modeled in Revit

Trespa Meteon cladding, modeled in Revit

Trespa Meteon cladding, modeled in Revit

Trespa Meteon cladding, modeled in Revit

In this way, BIM allows the joint work of architects, clients, builders, engineers and other relevant actors to occur within in a single intelligent and shared process. 

Have you used this methodology in your designs? Tell us your experience in relation to this technology in our comments section.

*This article has been fed by the information provided by Gonzalo De la Parra García, Architect, and Professor of the BIM area at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

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