People often ask me why I decided to be an architect. If I am honest with myself, I have to admit it is because of the Sims - yes, the game! As a child, I played it a lot. I kept building those houses one after another. Many years later, I stumbled across Revit and it was like the Sims. Can you see the connection?
I have been working in Revit for 5 years now and since last February, I have been part of A Designer at Heart as a person in charge of shifting the practice to BIM.
Why are we switching?
If you are an architect working on a project in collaboration with an interior designer, or even a developer who hired those two professionals, I am sure you have been wondering how to improve the workflow.
Or maybe you have been struggling to define the scope of work between the two different disciplines, leading to abortive work. Or you got lost between different software constantly switching windows between 3d model, 2d drawings and pdf with all the information. And then there is also the worry about extra costs or potential delays caused by the above, wishing you could track your team’s workflow in a transparent way.
If any of the above rings a bell, you are not alone. We have been there!
A Designer at Heart is an interior design consultancy working globally, remotely. As such, even though we produce interior concepts and develop them up to construction detail, we often collaborate with local professionals to sign construction drawings and advise on local compliance. This means that the coordination needs to be extremely efficient and we can’t leave room for interpretation. And we are sure that many companies experience the same challenges.
We believe that BIM is a solution to many of these problems and that’s why we decided to switch to Revit.
What is BIM?
BIM - Building Intelligent Modelling is the holistic process of creating and managing information for a building. It is a highly collaborative process that allows all the parties, from architects, interior designers, structural engineers, contractors and developers to work on one model through all the design stages. The biggest advantage is that all the information is contained within that one model. Each element - a wall or a door handle - contains all the information you need to execute the project.
There are 2 leading BIM software used by architects and interior designers available on the market: ArchiCad by Graphisoft and Revit by Autodesk. How to choose the right one for you? Since it is a collaborative software, you should use what other stakeholders from your projects use. It is a bit like social media apps - you use what your friends do. We chose Revit as it’s much more widely adopted in the UK.
Key benefits of working in Revit
efficient work environment
In Revit, we build a 3d model and then generate 2d drawings from it. It’s a much faster way of working. Traditionally, if we were to implement a change we would have to manually update a plan, section and elevation. Revit does it for us! It requires a bit more due diligence as each change to the model can affect many drawings but it's much nicer to use your brain power instead of racing with your mouse to produce all the drawings. It’s a smart software that frees our time so we can focus on what really matters - the design.
On top of that, Revit allows every team member to work concurrently. Using one file within the team requires more discipline, but it has the advantage of seeing the updates in real time.
virtual reality (VR) implementation
With Revit, we can provide the best presentation outputs. We use Enscape plug-in - a real-time rendering & virtual reality tool. We use it both, to inform our design decisions, but also to present the design to our clients. It’s as easy as sending a QR code which can bring you to a VR walk-through of the building.
Lack of coordination between disciplines is one of the biggest problems in the construction industry. It causes delays on-site and incurs additional costs. According to a survey by the National Building Specification (NBS), BIM helped increase the speed of delivery for 55% of construction professionals in the UK through digital automation. We can link the original architect’s model as well as structural and MEP models. We can understand the space much better. It helps spot any conflicts early on in the process so we can resolve issues before the construction begins.
When using BIM, a project’s design team can make automatic updates to the shared plans. It means when we implement changes, the cost gets automatically updated. It has the ability to count components automatically with high precision. It helps with accurate cost estimation because accurate models and accuracy are crucial when estimating costs.
BIM model can be used throughout the full life cycle of the building - from concept to operation. It’s intended to support operating and maintaining the building by controlling the performance of the materials and installations as well as energy consumption. It has massive potential for reducing the CO2 footprint of a building.
If you want to hear more about how a strong digitalization of interior design can improve its sustainability, have a look at this article we wrote on the topic.
Additionally, BIM uses the cloud to store the models that you create. You can use a tablet to pull up the model when you’re on the construction site. That means no more printing!
Transition to BIM is not easy. It requires investing in time, financial resources, and energy. Its a difficult software to learn, it requires a change of mindset when designing. On top of that, it’s not cheap. Many practices are hesitant to switch because of the cost. But in the long run, both designers and the clients can see the benefits. Designers can work more efficiently with much smoother transition between design stages. The clients eliminate construction risk by having more accurate design which can save lots of time and money during the construction stage.
After the initial period (which, we won’t deny it, was hard) we can already see the benefits.
Another challenge we encountered was a limited library of furniture available online. You can find good BIM models on some of the manufacturer’s website but usually they are very detailed which makes our models heavy and therefore difficult to work with. Initially, we had to spend quite a lot of time searching for appropriate models. We have managed to create a decent library at the moment, but the dream is to have a bigger one. We are still at an early stage of implementing BIM to the interior design industry. It’s a process and with time the resources should improve.
We live in times where technology is everything and BIM is the technology to look at in the construction industry. Every year there are more and more practices switching to BIM. The benefits are undeniable and the collaborative nature of the software is likely to cause a domino effect engaging the majority of the practices.
At ADAH our expertise lies in coliving design. We see Revit as a reflection of colivings. It’s about collaboration and doing things together. Working in one file as living in one building.