Since the birth of this three letter God in AEC industry, I have come across not less than 100 blogs, surveys, opinions and articles, and these are growing in leaps and bounds.

Even Architecture Institutes as usual seem to be pulling up socks for adopting this new technology, but with do’s and dont’s there are many how’s still to be answered.

The first question before why BIM is what is BIM?
Its “Building Information Modeling”, which is here to make the whole experience of teaching and learning much simpler. I am not going to go in depth of what BIM is all about, as it has already been discussed in length by many experts on various occasions and websites. Alternatively, Google a bit!

Building Information Modeling

An Integrated model in BIM software.

This blog is an effort to find answers to many how’s, that have come from heads of the Institutes, faculty and even students. First, let’s dive deep into Architecture curriculum to understand how it is spread over entire course of Architecture education. In Indian scenerio, its like a five storied building, students get in into it at the bottom storey and jump out from the top after acquiring many skills.

During this rigorous training, students get exposed to many different subjects and syllabus. From my experience I can share that, the core subjects include Architectural design, construction technology and Architectural Graphics and these are generally buttressed by other subjects like climatology, humanities, art and culture, drawing and sketching, presentation skills, even some exposure to professional practice.

Big question is where (which storey) should BIM be introduced?

I think right at first year level, as it will ensure better grip on using or exploiting the potentials of BIM at higher levels. At first year level, BIM can be used for visualizing simple platonic forms or even small scale spaces like security cabins or telephone booths. Importantly, use of computers does not mean killing or compromising on manual sketching skills. Its equally important to know, where not to allow use of computers in Architecture education.

At, first year level faculty can even make use of parametric nature of BIM software and use it for construction technology. For e.g. wouldn’t it be easier to explain timber roof construction with BIM, where even making frequent changes to model is easier and very explanatory? (Due apologies to Mckay and Chudley, authors of various Construction technology books). Or for that instance, cutting horizontally and vertically through rat trap bond, or Flemish bond is much easily explained with BIM than drawing it on white board.

Timber roofTimber roof explained through BIM.

Further ahead, it would be advisable for students and faculty to use BIM for avoiding repetitive and monotonous process of creating multiple views manually and redoing the entire process over and over again.

For subject Architectural Design I have already talked to various faculty on several occasions about use of BIM. The funniest reaction that I have ever got is “I agree it saves time, but what will students and faculty do in the saved and spare time?” Well, I have answer for that too, but later. First let’s look at how BIM can save students’ and faculties’ time and make the whole process of design enjoyable and productive.

Use of BIM means an integrated model of entire scheme. May be till date we have worked in individual compartments of sections, plans. elevations and models. where there is high risk of inconsistent drawings and uncoordinated data. BIM, will ensure best co-ordination and consistency throughout the process of design development. That means, any change anywhere in the project will result into updation of related drawings and documents. Now, if faculty demands a small change in a project, students don’t need to take a week long leave to make changes everywhere in the scheme. Make the change at one place and rest is taken care of by BIM.

LayoutWorking with BIM means an integrated model.
You don’t need to update all the drawings manually after changes.

Along with the above, BIM saves tremendous time of students which goes into manually creating meta data (non-geometric information) on the sheets. For. e.g, list of materials used, Bill of quantities, doors and windows schedule etc. (I mean it). BIM on its own generates all meta data which can be used directly for reports without cross-verification.

Sustainability with BIM

I remember faculty for environmental science had endless list of difficult terms. Daylight factor, Sun-paths, Sun study are only few of them and these were rarely applied in our Architectural design subject. Though BIMs today cannot meet the expertise of energy simulation software, but one can surely check for simple sustainability right in BIM software. Sun-studies can be directly carried out within the BIM software. right from the early stage of design. This makes developing your designs based on Uncle Sun’s behavior which ultimately results into energy saving.

sun studySun study of projects can be easily created with BIM
right from the conceptual design level.

History can be fun with BIM

Remember eastern and western domes? Pendentives? Yes, most of us will never forget those sleepless nights, where we had to draw each layer of domes number of times and entire sheets would be redone for even smaller errors? This continued till faculty felt, that our sheets were of ‘acceptable quality’. I also remember history faculty in 1990’s drawing section/s of giant monuments on board, slowly it was replaced by transparencies and currently with the ubiquity of internet, it is Power point and similar software which keep students awake in sessions.

Can BIM also be adpoted for teaching history of Architecture? Yes, it can be. Though faculty needs to do lot of ground work before they enter into classrooms. This ground work will involve creating models in parts of Architectural examples, and demonstrating them to students in class. The BIM model of even complex model can make it easier for student to understand the proportions, materials, climatic aspects and many more things which may not be possible with conventional CAD software.

Though I am still brainstorming on how to make this job of creating models simpler, I am sure Institutes will have to come together and share the responsibility.

MODELit! with BIM

Another subject where students spend considerable amount of time is Graphics, acquiring presentation skills, drafting skills, visualization and some compositional skills. it will be interesting to know the role of BIM in this subject. In one of the workshops at NIASA, we did discuss this. Although everybody agreed to  “limitations of current teaching methodology” Some faculty had a great objection in allowing students to use computers for this subject for the simple reason that they felt “this will take away sketching skills”. Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. As already said above, faculty needs to decide “where to stop the use of computers”, keeping in mind that ultimately everything should result into overall growth of the student and when students go out, they should be ready to face the world with confidence.


Image courtesy: Students can use BIM for
creating simple and complex geometry.

In this subject, BIM should help students visualize complex derivatives and geometry. This can be achieved by, creating complex models using BIM, cutting sections at various levels and studying the nature of object. Secondly, complex objects can be derived from simple platonic forms by making smaller changes to it. The entire process can be documented through BIM.

There are many ways, in which BIM can be implemented in Architecture education with ease. The productivity and efficiency of students will soar for sure. There are still many thoughts cooking up in my mind, but this is just beginning of many discussions that I plan to carry out with Architecture Institutes in India.