Will the construction sector survive without BIM?
Scenario 1: Polyline, click (coord.), click (coord.), click (coord.), click (coord.). Polyline, click (coord.), click (coord.), click (coord.), click (coord.). Trim, select line 1, select line 2, enter, select segment. Trim, select line 3, select line 4, enter, select segment. Hatch, pick point, select hatch type, edit scale, edit rotation, enter.
Scenario 2: Add wall, click (coord.), click (coord.). Add wall, click (coord.), click (coord.).
Both scenarios describe the same process. In the first scenario, the process is done with AutoCAD, Vectorworks (or any other software for vector drawing), while in the second, the process is done with Revit, Archicad, Allplan (or any other BIM software). At first glance, the design process is almost five times faster with a BIM software, but only if we do not scratch under the surface of this modern methodology. With Scenario 1 we get 12 lines and hatching that are projections of walls at the base and they have absolutely no features of a handmade drawing, except that we would be able to print them in different scales. In Scenario 2 it is a model of intersecting walls that have height, materialization, layers (which are automatically interrupted depending on the material, without trimming the layers), quantities can be calculated for each material individually, thermal coefficients and acoustic features for each wall, labels, codes, structural characteristics, manufacturer, costs, even features that might be important only to us for a specific project.
This entire process is just BIM 3D, which has been implemented in Great Britain since 2003. Currently the brave new world is talking about BIM 7D, which predicts how the building will function and live after the construction is finished. Having in mind my experience in construction and education (and with BIM methodology for more than 15 years) in the country, I can only express my regret that in Macedonia we haven’t even reached the stage of full 3D models developed with a software, but the majority still work the (good) old way: AutoCAD classic (factory settings) for the basics; those who are braver use Archicad or SketchUp to develop 3D models and there they generate cross-sections and images, which they send back for completion in AutoCAD. It goes without saying that if some changes are made in the design, this process will have to start almost from the beginning or with deletion of many items, with strange lines coming from who knows where, forgotten hatchings, etc. My respect goes to the rare exceptions who have successfully introduced BIM in their work.
We have all witnessed the accusations of each new government that the projects were not developed well by their predecessors and that is the reason why projects here are delayed sometimes by 10 years. The reasons for this can be found in the fear of introducing something new in project design, the fear that computers will take our work, the opinion that “the computer can only dream of making a drawing as good as mine”. All the countries that have introduced BIM have seen the benefits and the savings in the construction phase, savings in time and materials, duration and machinery. As I already mentioned, Great Britain introduced mandatory BIM for state-funded projects in 2011, while the preparations started as early as 2003. In the EU BIM has been obligatory for projects with public procurement since 31 December 2020. Unfortunately, in Macedonia we are still at the stage of endless talks without any real progress in this area. There are two options for implementing this: the first is legislation and forcing all architecture design studios to develop their projects (at least those funded by the state) with BIM methodology. The application of projects through a system of construction permit, supported by ZELS, was done similarly and everyone managed and the system is functioning. The other option for introduction of BIM is to have certain benefits (priority in getting licenses, better cooperation with the license issuing bodies, subsidies) and stimulate designs developed with BIM. We need to start somewhere, otherwise the projects will have to be done by foreign architecture studios and our designers will have to change professions or move abroad, as is the case now. BIM does not require huge finances; it takes five time less to design a project with it, our designers will not have a problem managing, as they did just fine with electronic signatures or learning how to apply projects online in the system.
Architecture is a (complex) process. Just like any other process, it requires careful planning and taking into account all factors impacting that process, so that it can be carried out as properly and precisely as possible and in the shortest amount of time; in other words, the duration of the technical part (making drawings, dimensioning, calculating bill of quantities) should be shortened as much as possible and more time should be allocated to the thought process, i.e. architecture itself. Furthermore, the coordination with the phases of construction, electrical, mechanical, etc. should be as clear as possible and any clashes of ventilation and electrical cable ducts, of beams and plumbing, etc. should be detected in the design phase. If these clashes are not detected during the development of the design, they will appear later in construction and will be much more expensive, because it is an unforeseen expense, and BIM makes clash detection possible.
I seriously believe that even though we are lagging behind many new technologies because we cannot afford them, BIM is an area where we can win both as a state and as designers. We can leave the comfort zone of endless clicking for something which requires only two clicks and be the leaders in the region and beyond. We can make use of the inexpensive trainings available here and thus improve our sector and work on projects abroad, so we would no longer need to beg for the historic price list for respectful appreciation of designers’ work.
About the Author
Nikola Strezovski was born in Resen in 1981. He completed primary and secondary education in Resen, and today he lives and works in Skopje. He obtained the degree of Graduate Engineer Architect at the Faculty of Architecture, Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje. After graduating, he has actively participated in teaching at the same faculty and later at FON University as a Teaching Assistant. He is the author of a large number of architectural designs from all areas, as well as a large number of constructed buildings. He has taken part in architectural competitions, winning 9 first places and numerous second and third places, as well as special recognitions of his works. He has also participated in numerous exhibitions, most notably at the Venice Biennale and an exhibition in New York City. Additionally, he has delivered CAD computer software training, and today he is actively advocating for the introduction of BIM in architectural design. He is professionally engaged with Mason Engineering, a construction company from Skopje that constantly introduces innovation and novelty to construction. For him, architecture is both a job and a hobby; he constantly thinks about how to make the world a better place through architecture. Nikola is married and has two children.