Architecture, BIM, Technology

BIM helps projects realistically transition from the virtual world to reality says Andrew Woods from P&T

Middle East Architect held a round table to discuss the development of design technology, focusing on how BIM can positively affect the creative process linking design, architecture and construction.

Attending the conversation were Sukul Jagdev, technical manager at La Casa; Andrew Milburn, associate at GAJ; Andrew Woods, BIM manager at P&T Architects and Engineers; and Youssef Yassine, architect and BIM manager at NEB.

BIM’s ability to merge virtual reality and physical reality is one of many positive features attributed to the technology. In addition to helping clients better understand an architect’s vision of a project, the incorporation of virtual reality into the creative process also allows for a more accurate visualisation and rendition of materiality.

“BIM is basically building the building twice. Once in virtual world and a second time in the real world,” explained Andrew Woods, BIM Manager at P&T Architects and Engineers. “The best part is when the client or contractor sees the model evolve and then [arriving] on site and seeing the project look exactly like the model.”

Woods added that on many occasions clients’ expectations are not directly in line with the end result of a project, with factors such as size or lighting often being misinterpreted.

“Now, with BIM and virtual reality, you can take clients or end users through the building well before completion and address problems they envisage or help them better understand the design,” he explained, adding that this results positively with clients, who as a result of BIM,  now have  better spatial comprehension and are more agreeable with specific design choices.

Sukul Jagdev from La Casa agreed. He added, “Virtual reality is a part of this BIM environment. Right now, we give client drawings, but soon we will be able to give clients augmented reality glasses so they can take a walk through the designs. Once the project is complete, it will be something that had already been seen six months previously.”

The BIM specialists also commented on how the software will impact the use of materiality across projects, with factors such as external elements and accuracy being highlighted.

“From a material point of view, it is more accurate and there is less waste. Everything that is heavy is going to add cost, it takes more to support it: bigger foundations, bigger structures. If you can reduce the weight of something you reduce the amount of material to hold it up,” said Woods.

“And, theoretically, you can produce more interesting buildings. The Louvre in Abu Dhabi creates a perception that the roof just floats above you and if you can reduce the amount of materials used, the aspiration of the architect can be more easily achieved.”

“When you have access to the architectural space from the inside, you can see how BIM affects the material, like how the sun affects your indoor space. This will affect your cladding material choice. You can now understand how to treat your façade,” said Youssef Yassine from NEB.

“BIM helps you specifically choose the material you want to use. It’s not just a 3D model for a presentation. It’s a smart, parametric model with numbers, values, location and even time of the year.”