Building Information Modelling, A potential tool for Asia Countries yet?

Over the last 10 years, software tools in the marketplace have advanced dramatically, from drawings to computerized system such as CAD which we have many more options . But today we have software to allow us to generate documents directly from our 3D models. It’s what we could consider as BIM too, Building Information Modelling, using elements which the software understands as walls, doors, columns,or any building components. This approach allows access to dimensional and attributes information of design elements which was previously unavailable.

It’s a software which involves some crucial learning curve to make the knowledge investment worthy. Our industry is moving into an area very different from our traditional methods of practice here. What’s so significant of BIM is the “intelligent” modeling offers a new way to create documents, which naturally reduce wasted time, effort and resources.

BIM process of design is exact reverse. We model first, and the drawings are representations of the model, in the plan . section, elevations or isometric. As the design develops, the 3D model changed and the drawings reflect the update in real time.  The true return on investment really depends on a lot of aspects, such as the construction industry and other professions in the certain country. Because BIM earns time in sharing information between different expertise and understanding the solution to a certain problem during the  virtual stage, instead of during reality construction, which problems exist many today.

In Short, it’s just like an advanced 2D CAD Drawing with many information or layers overlapping and formulas to assist on changing design throughout the designing phase.

But Is Asia ready for this? BIM originated from the States at first. We do have projects in Asia already realized with the assistance of BIM. Namely, the ArtScience Museum in Marina Bay Sands Singapore . The suitability of using BIM depends on a various factor. In the western world, a major portion of construction cost is for labor. Coordination Errors are expensive, and a need for improved productivity on site created a drive to find a better way of documenting design. They cannot afford to lose financially because of such errors due to labor cost.

But in here, Asia, the complete opposite applies. Foreign workers are not expensive. Site errors can be rectified with a little adjustment to the design or some other inexpensive methods. In architectural practice, draftsmen are readily available to adjust and correct the drawings one by one individually until it is done. Thorough coordination is not overly important, the speed of production drives the process.

On the other hand, the design schedule with the architectural practice in most Asian countries does not seem to be in the pair. Clients want to start their piling before the ink is dry on their title to the site. Project schedules often do not tolerate time for coordination process. Clients want the drawings yesterday but insist on putting off crucial design decisions for as long as possible. BIM, on the other hand, requires decisions and design effort to be pushed forward significantly in the process to create value during construction. It NEEDS the rich information and coordination before beginning of construction. Unrealistic design schedules, which continue to place emphasis on creating drawings,rather than a coordinated building, will continue this cycle.

There are indeed, a lot of aspects evolving around BIM whether they are suitable for a certain project, or in its environment and exposure. The state of design in our modern world attests to the progress of technology as applied to design and construction. The work of architects like Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid would not be possible without 3D Models. For the smaller design practitioners, this may seem a bit excessive to complete a more modest project. On a smaller project, with its lower profit margin, the efficiency gains from BIM can be more significant. BIM is definitely a sensibility approach to building one model and extract all drawings, it improves efficiency in design and documentation, long-term enterprise profitability and increased control over the delivery of our design intent. 

There are certainly much to discussed BIM, but no doubt that it’s the paradigm shift in the world of technology that will influence how the building is created.