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An architect's working day when practicing BIM

A good and well written BIM manual facilitates collaboration between architects, other project planners and consultants. For Puck Jansler at Carsten Andersson Architects, ARCHICAD is a given tool for achieving the requirements of the manual.

Carsten Andersson architects in Malmö live and breathe BIM. As long as Puck Jansler - one of the five architects at the firm - can remember, 3D modeling has always been a part of the work process.

"ARCHICAD has been included in our business since the mid-1990s", says Puck. "This has proven to be a smart move as GRAPHISOFT is at the forefront when it comes to the development of BIM. And we want to be in the forefront as well".

Today Carsten Andersson Architects primarily are active in architecture projects such as multi-family houses and office buildings.

BIM-work in practice

The hub of the project collaboration is the BIM manual, provided by the client, that is a sort of cooperation agreement for how the project shall proceed.

"If we have any comments on the manual, we will work out those contingent questions with the BIM coordinator. It might for instance be about the amount of information that should be entered into the model."

Working transparently and openly is a given goal.

"It is not a matter of which program you draw in today. Instead, the focus is on how the information can be shared using the IFC format to get an efficient process, whether you work in ARCHICAD, Revit or any other software".

How does BIM work in practice then? The architectural firm provides the basic model and each discipline’s project planner compile their own IFC model. All models are then assembled in the common project hub. Puck can then study the models of other disciplines and give her opinion on matters that need to be adjusted. The exchange of ideas between the different areas of expertise is stimulated in these coordinations, and problems are avoided early with this process. In Carsten Andersson Architects projects, the BIM coordinator has an important role to monitor that the models delivered meet the requirements of the BIM manual. One task is to be observant of collisions where Puck highlights Solibri as a good tool for that task.

To quality assure the model's data and to do it correct from the start, Puck and her colleagues use a specific feature in ARCHICAD, called Favorites. "In the Favorites, the object settings can be useful in new projects already at take-off. We constantly strive to shorten the process and minimize errors", Puck says.

Calculations both in early and late stages of the project

The requirements of the BIM manual vary from project to project and are related to the type of information that the client considers important. The BIM manual therefore largely controls the design of the model's data content and consequently also the bureaus work process in ARCHICAD. If quantity take off is a required, the items need to be coded based on what is stated in the manual, such as Swedish BIP codes for instance.

"Each item is given the correct code in ARCHICAD. In ARCHICAD each object has a dialogue box for entering the appropriate code values. If any object's data is to be changed, there is a neat function in ARCHICAD where I search for objects with specific set parameters. I then can change them all in one instant instead of finding and editing them one by one".

The coding can be used to quantify upcoming suborders. But it could also be an early help in project planning, Puck believes.

"We have discussed the possibility of including the model at the procurement stage. Then the client or contractor can make a rough quantification and roughly estimate the project's finances".

Including the model at the site

The benefit of BIM is not only to simplify the architects' collaboration with other design developers. Puck says that the model also has a role to fill at the construction site.

"We would like to transmit the information out to the building site. With the BIMx application in a tablet, our drawings are displayed in 2D (pdf format) and have cross references to ARCHICAD's 3D model. If you click on a window in the model, the application takes you to the drawing and you can then view different details. It is fantastic!"

But BIM does not end there. The model continues its life in facility management. When the building is changed, rebuilt or modified for new needs, the model should also be updated.

"Our archived models are worth their weight in gold for us. If you for instance, have to do a refurbishing of an office space you then have an excellent basic model for testing different proposals. Proposals that then easily can be visualized and communicated to a potential tenant. If you also have access to all of the other disciplines’ models, you also can see how the MEP is installed without having to make any impact on the house."

BIM is also about the internal work of the bureau.

"We are a tight group where everyone feels very comfortable with our tool, ARCHICAD. This means that we can streamline and optimize our processes in order to make perfect delivers and not overwork the process".

This is the essence of BIM. When all project participants take responsibility and have the adequate information, the creative, transparent collaboration that every building project strives for, is facilitated.

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About Love Janson

Love Janson is a communication strategist at ComWise AB. He has a BA degree in communication from Halmstad University.
  • Sweden