BIM + IFC: Why we need them all

Both from the professional point of view (architecture, engineering or design) and from the citizens' one , it seems clear that the implementation of BIM will result in a general improvement and, in order to get the short-term expected advantages, you need IFC.

Why BIM can be of interest to the citizens? You might think they aren’t concerned by this issue because, after all, they may not even know what the Building Information Modeling (BIM) is. The 3D modeling system is not exactly an everyday subject because it is basically known in the building industry. And, obviously, the Industry Foundation Classes format (IFC) will be foreign to them as well.

The answer is simple: for money -public and private money. Right at the start of 2014, the European Parliament voted a package of reforms affecting Public Procurement Directives and among them is the BIM adoption by member states. So, we speak of public money which is money of all of us.

The goal is to spend less and better in publicly funded building projects, by selecting an efficient building system that allows to anticipate failures, improve production processes, build faster and safer, reduce uncertainty and consider the building from its conception to its demolition. These are the endorsements in favor, since BIM makes it possible to work virtually on a model so as to solve all the issues regarding its construction and, whenever an object is modified, all its related objects also change automatically.

When the European Parliament voted in favor of the implementation of BIM on public projects, they weren’t precursors. The pioneers were the Scandinavian countries, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Later, the Netherlands and the UK also moved in that direction.

This illustrates the interest of the countries in adopting BIM on publicly funded projects, but we started talking about the "private money". How is it affected? By allowing the small businesses to compete with the big corporations. From the very moment when a small company can ensure that it has the same controls and methodology than their competitors, they can bid for the public projects. In order to encourage its participation, the same European Parliament Directive allows to break down large contracts into lots so that all companies can compete, despite of their size.

So far, all are benefits but to make this economic and commercial process succeed, the information within a BIM project must flow and be shared by all participants: all the companies involved in the building activities have information to be transmitted. BIM is a huge database where all parameters and the relationship between them are included. Thus, if an element is modified the consequences can be simultaneously seen in the relationships with other elements, its size, position, material, time, cost...

This large database would not be fed, no information would be shared and no files would be exchanged without working with a common format for BIM. And here is when becomes essential to use IFC format.

Seeing how new technologies are developed around us, we often have the perception that creativity is stifled. Predesigned forms and object libraries speed up our tasks but… where is our creativity? What probably attracted us to our profession, the wish to create something and make it real, something that had only existed in our imagination…

This desire to combine creativity with technology is what leads VisualARQ to consider the design as a creative activity, free-form, but linked to technology.

This experience of free creation it’s transferred to IFC format, and from that moment there are no limits to the design as it can be transferred directly to a BIM system, such as:
• Solibri Model Viewer
• Revit Architecture
• AutoCAD® Architecture
• Graphisoft ArchiCAD
• Tekla BIMsight
• Autodesk® Ecotect Analysis

And the impossible is achieved: creation, shared technology, architects, and citizens, all linked to IFC and BIM. VisualARQ's bet.

(Article by M.A. Núñez)