BIMX: WHAT, WHY AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
Switch between 2D plans and 3D walkthrough at the touch of the screen - how BIMx is revolutionising the building process
The term ‘BIMx’ sounds just as futuristic as the software is in reality, the step before virtual reality technology - it enables you to take your design wherever you go. If you are the client, the architect or the contractor on site, you can easily navigate through 3D model views, elevations, plans and door and window schedules, enabling a complete overview of the design and all of the components.
BIMx software has been developed by Graphisoft, the company behind one of the leading 3D modelling softwares, ArchiCAD. BIMx enables ArchiCAD models to be exported along with their details, such as building regulations drawings, in one complete package. Architectural practices are using the software not only for its advantages as a complete project package, but also because of it’s use to the client; being able to take the package home and use it on a free app is invaluable, and simple systems such as Google cardboard mean it is accessible in VR view without the need for expensive software.
"I can see the BIMx being invaluable on site, I’m going to get my team using it as well as google cardboard to quickly hop in and out of the proposal."
- Simon Earp, contractor
A contractor recently commented on the use of BIMx on site: “I am impressed with the VR and BIMx systems and am excited to use it more in the future. I can really see an advantage for the client, being able to understand and really ‘see’ and experience the design. I haven’t experienced VR before and don’t know why more people don’t offer it. I can see the BIMx being invaluable on site, I’m going to get my team using it as well as google cardboard to quickly hop in and out of the proposal. I can see it will improve accuracy on site as instead of having to scale off printed drawings you can look at the BIMx package. I can also see it will save time when the sub contractors are on site and you normally have to spend a long time explaining the design and what the outcome will be - they can now just view it on Google cardboard on their phone! Tech is a big part of life now so it’s great to see an architectural practice pushing the boundaries in this way.”
BIMx is not only the 3D model and floor plans, it can hold all kinds of text data on specific elements; for example if a client is looking through the 3D walkthrough on a tablet and they want to see the details for their chosen kitchen or find out the size of a light fitting, door or floor dimensions, they can simply tap on a marker dot that will bring up the relevant data if it has been input into the model. BIMx allows total interaction and the ability to see all the information that was included in the architects ArchiCAD model. The contractor can then use the BIMx package as a map whilst managing the build on site, eliminating the need for huge paper plans and time away from site.
The viewport option for the 3D walkthrough is very like a first person console game, it is as if you are the eyes of the person walking through the building, able to look around 360 degrees, as well as up to the ceiling or down to the floor coverings, the walkthrough is a complete virtual version of the proposed design.
The Hyper-model element of the package means that the 2D elements of the design package are able to be viewed as an overlay to the 3D render or as worksheets. The user can flip from the 3D view to building regulation plans to see what the wall composition is at different points, or measure room dimensions within the floorpan view, without having to get a ruler or flick through printed paperwork.
Any noted changes or updates are carried across the BIMx file so that if connected via wifi a change made by the lighting contractor on his ‘live version’ of the plans will automatically alter the file on the plasterers model and so on, meaning that the file is connected across all users if the file has been uploaded to Graphisoft’s Model transfer service. It can also be sent as independent files to each contractor but then this live change option isn’t available.
It is one of those ‘gadgets’ that never fails to make the user smile the first time they see it. It is an impressive package, but it is also easy to navigate and use. Clients love the 3D interface and how they can view 2D plans or superimpose them over the sectional view of the model, it is something the client can take home and show friends and family, and it is invaluable to the contractor and project manager on site.
If you would like to find out more about 3D design, BIMx and VR in architecture, find a practice in your area that offers it and contact them for a demo.