Monday, 14 October 2013

Let BIM be BIM; Nothing More or Less.

BIM interpretation Commotion

“Is BIM a concept, a process, or a Software technology?” What is your interpretation of BIM?

The more I dig into “BIM” the more I get confused about the real meaning of the term BIM. BIM is sometimes described as “a concept”, sometimes as “process” and sometimes as “technology”. Can these word “Process, Concept and Technology be used synonymously to describe BIM? “

Lets look at some meaning of BIM

“.. a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. As such it serves as a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life-cycle from inception onward”.

In my view, as BIM gain more popularity and the technology advances, the real meaning of BIM has been hijacked and we are now left with different interpretations of BIM. Even major software vendors have different opinions on the interpretation of BIM. You might want to read this to see the meaning of BIM from vendors’ viewpoint.

I believe BIM is a simple concept that must be clearly interpreted but sometimes the meaning go too ambiguous or too precise, causing confusion.

Here are some few interpretations of BIM

“Some say BIM is a type of software. Some say BIM is the 3D virtual model of buildings. Others say BIM is a process or BIM is nothing more than the collection of all building data organized into a structure database easy to query both in a "visual" and a "numerical" way. It is safe to say that BIM is all the above and some more…    “

Notice the phrase” It is safe to say that BIM is all the above and some more…  

Here is another description

“The process of using BIM models for collaborative purposes, leading up to and through construction is a lengthy one.  It involves a real investment on software and employees…..”

A BIM pioneer, former professor at University of Salford Manchester, in one of our classes with him also points out that BIM is not about Technology

In addition, I once read an article that describe BIM - (the Software View) and BIM ( the Process View)

Honestly speaking, I do not care so much about the different interpretations of BIM until I realised that the more I improve my skills on BIM software the more I understand the concept of BIM. But then I begin to ask myself, is this not what BIM is all about? To understand the project challenges and investigate how they can be solved using BIM Software Technology .Why do we then have so much theories trying to prove what BIM is and what BIM is not?

I believe that the struggle to meet up with the technological advancement and the demands to execute construction projects faster, easier and smarter made the AEC industry shift from hand drawing to software technology using CAD Software which eventually has been improving until now.

From CAD tools, BIM is born. Therefore, in my opinion “BIM” is no special process. In fact to me , “BIM” is a software technological improvement derived from “CAD”; developed to enhance the processes of AEC industry? BIM cannot be replaced by standard design and construction processes, or data management and life- Cycle management. I think once we are using BIM, we can really go through these processes faster, safer and smarter; but they are only possible uses of BIM.

I frequently get myself perplexed  when BIM is being described as a “process” and that BIM is not a software you can buy from the market but what about the fact that this thing called “BIM” cannot be implemented without a shrink wrapped software package that is capable of handling the so called "process"?

So what is your interpretation of BIM ?

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Custom Baluster and Railing in ArchiCAD And Revit

Custom Baluster and Railing

After completing a project which I had to design a custom railing for a stair, I decided to share my experiences with you. Although the project was done in Revit, however , I investigated how I could achieve the same result in ArchiCAD 16.  See the picture .
Because of the complexity of the process involved in modelling this particular railing, for the purpose of this blog, I have made a simple common wooden railing to explain the concept of creating a custom railing in both ArchiCAD16 and Revit Architecture 2013.

Before we jump into the software, I want to remind you of some things you need to keep in mind. As I have mentioned in my previous post,  "BIM is not just a MODEL, its a DATABASE"

  • Know the intent of your model, ask yourself why do you need to model the object?  what impact does it have on the overall design?
  • If it worth  modelling, what will be the level of detail  (LOD) throughout the design development stage? 
  • there is always two or more different methods to achieve your results, if time permits, investigate different methods and choose the one that best suits your intents or office workflow. Consider efficiency and Time.
  • Understand your deliverable.

Lets get started!
here is what we are going to create
Revit Railing
ArchiCAD Railing

Lets start with Custom railing in ArchiCAD16.

Custom Railing can be achieved using different methods and tools in ArchiCAD, for this tutorials I used the morph tool in ArchiCAD 16 because I think it is the best option in this case. Therefore you need AC16 to follow this tutorial.

You can customised your railing using other tools like;

Wall, Slab, Mesh, Column, Beam , Complex Profile and Shell tool in AC15. Depending on what type of railing you are creating, using some of the these tools, you might face the challenges of rotating the object to the right position and saving your railing to the proper object library in order to schedule them properly.

Step 1
Modelling the Balusters
  • Use a reference image,  Here is the baluster profile image I found online and I decided to use Number 3.

  • Import the image into the worksheets and activate the worksheet in any elevation view then scale it down to the desired baluster height. I  divided the baluster profile into 3. Top part is squared, Middle part is round and the bottom part is squared.
  • Switch back to elevation view and start the Morph tool. in the info box at the top, choose " Geometry method: box" . Start tracing the top part of the baluster with the morph tool, These are my values; x =100,  y= 100 and z = 100.

  • For the middle part, change the geometry from box to Revolve and trace half of the profile. Pull your mouse from top to bottom and leave the axis line at angle 90 the click. A box will appear
  • Type 360 for the revolve angle and OK.

  • The bottom is also a square, so repeat what we did for the top part.
  • Check your Baluster in 3D , you should have something similar to the picture below. You can change the material to some wood material.
 Now we need to save the model as a object, so that we can reuse it in any project.
Select the baluster ( all the parts) go to File- Libraries and objects- Save selection as - Object

Draw a slab and put the custom baluster object.


The Handrail

Go back to the Elevation view, activate the Morph tool and draw the Railing profile on top of the baluster. you can also draw the profile in section view.  


Draw a line with the morph tool along the path that you want the railing to follow , then use the tube to push the railing profile along the line.
Push Along Path
End Result

 Custom railing in Revit Architecture 2013.

For this tutorial, we are going beyond the Project environment into the Family editor.
Here is the workflow:
  • Draw the Balusters and the Handrail profiles in the family environment using the right template
  • Load the profiles into the railing tool in the project evironment
  • Edit the railing settings to get what you want.
However for easy customisation, using the railing tool, it is important to understand how Revit treats Balusters and Railing.
  • Every horizontal members are called RAILING
  • The uppermost horizontal rail is the HANDRAIL which can be edited separately.
  • Every Vertical members are called BALUSTER
  • Baluster Posts, are the END and CORNER Balusters

Steps Baluster

  1. We are going to choose a template from Revit family. On the start up screen ; go to Families and click New. 
  2. Select template "Metric Baluster Post"
  3. Open the Left Elevation then go to Insert - Image , import the reference image.
  4. Scale down the image by dragging the handles as shown in the picture below.
  5. Draw 2 additional vertical reference planes to both sides of the existing one and dimension them equally.
  6. Go to "Create- Extrusion. Set the "work plane" to  "Reference plane front/back" and click OK.
  7.  Draw the "top square " of the Baluster and lock them to the ref. planes. Take note of the Extrusion End and Extrusion Start Values. these values must be entered before you start drawing the extrusion lines. Click the check mark when finish drawing.
  8. Draw a new reference plane above the bottom ref.level.
  9. Repeat Step 6 to draw the bottom Square of the baluster.
  10. Go to "Create - Revolve. Set the work plane and draw the boundary line : the half part of the round -middle section. Draw a vertical "axis " along the center vertical ref.plane and click the check mark.
  11. Name the Baluster and save it but leave it open.
Steps HandRail

Note, if you are already inside Revit, you can always go back to start-up screen by going to "Views- Recent Files"
  1. We are going to choose a template from Revit family. On the start up screen ; go to Families and click New. 
  2. Select template "Metric Profile Rail"

  3. Draw 2 additional vertical reference planes to both sides of the existing one and dimension them equally.
  4. Draw the Handrail profile or if you have a reference image you can use that. I drew my profile without ref. image
  5. Name the Handrail and save it. Leave it open.
Loading the profiles into the project

  1. On the start up screen ; go to Projects and click Architectural Template. 
  2. Open the custom Baluster and Click "Load into Project"  Select your new project file and OK
  3. Repeat Step 2  for the custom Handrail profile.

  4. From the Architecture tab, activate the Railing tool  and sketch a small path using the 900mm pipe railing type.

  5. In the 3D view, select the railing and go to "Edit type"
  6. Duplicate the type and give it a new name.
  7. Still in the type properties, go to Rail Structure (Non-Continious) and click edit.
  8. Select Rail 1 to Rail 4  and delete them one after the other. click Apply and OK.

  9. Go to Baluster Placement and click Edit
  10. Under Baluster family, you should now be able to select the custom baluster we loaded into the project.
  11. Also change the posts to our custom baluster and Use "Distance from Previous" for Spacing click OK. We should have the balusters in place. 
For the Handrail
Use the tab key on the keyboard to select the Handrail then go to "Edit type"  change the profile to the one we created then OK.

Any question. please feel free to comment or ask your question.