Building Information Modeling (BIM)

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BIM is the abbreviation for building information modeling or building information model. It refers to a design method for assembling (modeling) buildings like models in 3D virtual space in computers or the data (model) itself that is created. Because 3D data is digitized using computers, in addition to more information on shapes, additional information can be provided, including information on architectural components, such as roofs and windows, as well as on prices and product profiles. This is 3D architectural information, so to speak.

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Automatically Generated and Highly Consistent

Unlike with the usual design procedure, two-dimensional plans, such as floor plans and elevation diagrams, can be drafted automatically through extraction from one 3D model. Moreover, the use of additional information makes it possible to automatically generate tables of areas, tables of finishes, door and window schedules, and the like. Because these elements correlate with each other, if a floor plan or door and window schedule is corrected, the 3D model will be revised immediately. At the same time, highly consistent design can be achieved because all revisions will be reflected in all of the plans automatically generated from the model. In general, BIM refers to the state of having one complete model by rendering not only architectural drawings but also structures and facilities in 3D and adding and integrating information on components and equipment. With buildings becoming more complex, bringing a design together so that accuracy and quality are high may be considered the trump card for design methods utilizing IT.
Because BIM has 3D shape data, it becomes easy to draw perspectives and run computer simulations during the design process. This, in turn, facilitates excellent communication with clients and creates a design environment that makes it very easy to predict the internal environments of the buildings designed. If the correct cost information for each component is added, the moment the design of the 3D model is completed, it will be possible to generate a highly accurate estimate (known as 5D in the world of BIM). Thus, interest in BIM is increasing from a cost management perspective as well.
Not limited to design, BIM can also be considered to serve as a highly consistent, comprehensive plan during construction. It shortens the time for producing working drawings and runs construction simulations using 3D models (known as 4D in the world of BIM). Expectations are high that it will contribute substantially to labor savings and high performance in construction.

A model of the Hoki Museum, made with BIM

Airflow simulation

Expectations for BIM as a Tool to Support the Entire Lifecycle of Buildings

Additionally, directions are being sought for using BIM to make building charts;  the completion drawings to date would be replaced with BIM and additional information provided in the form of records of upgrades and maintenance. By organizing completion drawings in the form of BIM and providing charts and by facilitating efficiency in conducting routine inspections, repairs, and other forms of maintenance, it is expected that BIM will provide high-precision support for the entire lifecycle of buildings.

  • Tomohiko Yamanashi

    Tomohiko Yamanashi

    Senior Executive Officer
    Chief Design Officer
    Principal, Architectural Design Department

    Tomohiko Yamanashi joined Nikken Sekkei in 1986 after completing his master’s degree at the University of Tokyo. Specializes in architectural design. The winner of numerous awards, his latest being MIPIM Asia's Special Jury Award in 2009 for Mokuzai Kaikan, Prizes of AIJ in 2014 for NBF Osaki Building (Sony City Osaki), Prizes of AIJ in 2019 for Toho Gakuen School of Music, JIA Grand Prix in 2011 for HOKI Museum and CTBUH Innovation Award in 2014 for NBF Osaki Building. He is also a jury for the AIJ Prizes, Good Design Award, Tokyo Architecture Award, etc. He is a member of the Japan Institute of Architects (JIA) and the Architectural Institute of Japan (AIJ).

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