BIM is here to stay

This year architectural and building services consultants in Dubai have to employ BIM (Building Information Modelling) on major projects to obtain Dubai Municipality approval.

The implementation of DM Circular 196 means a more rigid code of practice from the initial drawing up of designs through to a completed project.

BIM is a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a building. But it also goes further, by enabling a virtual information model to be handed from the design team to contractors and then on to the owner and the operators with each person being able to add their own specific expertise to the single-shared model to produce a complete picture.

It was originally developed by a US-based vendor named Revit which pioneered parametric software for building design and was one of several packages on the market.

In 2002 Autodesk a company then primarily a CAD vendor, which had been researching similar technology, bought Revit for $133m and has since refined and developed it to its current level where it is industry standard.

Hassan Dajani, managing director of the building and construction arm of Bentley, said: “This technology is here and it is here to stay. It allows designers, contractors, operators and architects to share information.”

Expert 1: Alain Waha, RMJM Architects
BIM technology promises better outcomes from better designs, better construction, and better on-going management of the facilities.

For example, using the digital mock-up, the main contractor can pick up issues before they occur on site, and the design team can obtain more precise data on areas and volumes for accurate cost estimates.

As a global practice RMJM has been exposed to BIM since 2008. The Dubai Municipality mandate to use BIM on major projects brings with it the expectation that it will become standard practice for all projects soon thereafter. It is a similar scenario to that seen in the US after the government mandate in 2008 and the trajectory seen for BIM adoption in the UK since a Government mandate.

RMJM is currently using the Revit BIM Platform from AutoDesk to deliver several hotels in the UAE. The W Hotel and Residences on the Palm Jumeirah, both feature some complex geometry which was controlled and refined using the BIM model in tandem with the engineers and cost consultants. BIM is enabling rapid progress to be made with an accuracy that would not have been previously possible.

Expert 2: Gerry McFadden, WSP Engineers
Personally, I was not surprised by the announcement [that BIM was being introduced in Dubai].
The timeframe stated would, however, have been cause for sleepless nights, had WSP not already been embracing BIM for some years.

I applaud the decision of Dubai Municipality to take the first big step on what will be a long journey.
It is a bold move and one which will force the industry to embrace a better way to design, construct and operate successful projects.

BIM has been a buzz phrase locally for many years.

Even though some clients have required BIM on their projects and there was never going to be true transformation without proper official governmental intervention.

Real and meaningful change is often hard, even when we know that the change will result in a better environment and improve the quality of what we achieve in years to come.

There are challenging times ahead. It is true that BIM is not something we can buy in a box.
There will be pain to bear before the joy that comes from ultimately succeeding in our goals.

Expert 3 – Gianluca Lange, Autodesk – Vendor
Some people mistakenly think of BIM as just a new variety of software.

BIM is actually a process that relies on information-rich models to help owners and service providers to plan, design, construct, and manage building and infrastructure projects more efficiently.

The reliance on digital design models has been a common practice in the manufacturing industry for decades. Project teams at companies such as Boeing and Toyota have placed digital models at the core of their collaborative, concurrent engineering processes for years.

They have been using them to support the entire project lifecycle from design and documentation to manufacturing and field support.

Models created using software for BIM are intelligent because of the relationships and information that are built into the model.

A room, for example, is more than an abstract concept. It is a unique space contained by other building components. With BIM, the model is actually a database and the room is a database element that contains both geometric information and non-graphic data.