Exploring The BIM Dimensions !!

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B I M  7D


Greeks started the art of building structures they mastered the use of columns, capitals and other decorations. Their construction technology is still a mystery for us today due to the reason that Greeks did not document the knowledge/information part of the built up technology to pass it on to the next generations. Now even today we are spending so much resources to understand their technologies. Although human evolved from cave man to skyscraper man but still we follow a construction process that Greeks followed that is with missing knowledge documentation. Even our modern structures are struggling to pass on the Knowledge/Information behind them in a proper documentation form. Every time a failure takes place we struggle to retrieve all the knowledge/information part that forms the design process wasting several resources.

Need of Seventh Dimension

Our disintegrated approach and weak information flows are the key factors for its statistically proven failure. A statistics published over twenty years ago analyzed and found that failures in projects are directly attributable to design faults 50%, construction faults 40-45% and product failure 5-10%. These statistics, and it’s underlying, reasons still stands today. Further the lifecycle analysis of a building with 80% of the cost involved in Management & Operation after constructions carries its own demands. Since the construction industry is in the middle of a growing crisis worldwide. These analysis and factors resulted in defining the seventh dimension in the building construction process that is integration and interaction.BIM technology is revising the AEC model with an integrated and interactive model of AECOO - Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Ownership and Operation. It will hold the capacity of storing and sharing the information along the whole life cycle of a building.

What is the Seventh Dimension

The building design and construction process is a knowledge based system. The design is either qualitative, operative or both. The design process involves identification and definition, conception, communication, creative problem solving, synthesis and realization. This whole knowledge, information that’s called data in the digital world is defined as the seventh dimension in the BIM environment. It has existed all these years in all design processes but was never documented for future usage. This data could be sketches, e-mails, catalogues, case studies etc. or historically fossils, manuscripts etc. The seventh dimension redefines the BIM as a building in interaction mode.


The current cad system holds small part of this seventh dimension but has got no process to integrate and share it along a project and across a project. BIM is an emerging process supported by a broader toolset and data standards for the creation and use of project and building lifecycle information. The changes in the tools support new processes allowing professionals to integrate intelligent and standardized data, graphics, databases, web services, and decision support methodologies changing the human-computer interaction and richness of data supported in the process. For users, BIM integrates or even eliminates lower value and/or traditionally separate tasks and makes higher value activities such as simulation and other forms of analysis cost effective for all scale projects. It supports information sharing and distribution across a broader spectrum of professions through information exchanges and offers the possibility of knowledge bases for buildings as part of its data aggregation.


BIM-Storing and Sharing Information

As per the US National Building Information Modeling Standards.
The requirements for information storage and sharing cover three traditionally separate facets of the industry, Computer Aided Design (CAD), Computer Aided Facility Management (CAFM), and Geospatial Information Systems (GIS). A model view of a BIM could incorporate information from any or all of these technologies. Historically, they have not interfaced directly very well if at all.
However, new concepts pretty much dismiss traditional CAD as being non-intelligent information. CAFM is integrated into the BIM. Therefore, we are really speaking of a geospatially located Building Information Model. Building information models may be shared during a project in many settings. In full-service design and engineering organizations, information may be shared during the design phase across several engineering disciplines. Such sharing would require the identification of which group in the firm has access to add, edit, and delete specific types of building systems and/or components. Procedures for version control and check-in/check-out of individual parts of building models must be established within these firms. Information assurance to identify who made what changes and when is critical to future confidence in the information. Checks based on the contents of the BIM for completeness, consistency, and collisions are enabled when sufficient progress is made on the shared building model. For capital project owners, the construction of a given asset represents only the initial stage of many stages of work on a given piece of real estate.

During a given project, a central repository is provided by the owner to capture the information needed to manage, operate, and maintain the facility. Such information should be captured during the creation process of the project, through the specification of open standard deliverables. The information of technical interest to engineers, architects, and lawyers may or may not be directly included in the model. In many cases, this information may be contained in separate files linked to the model. In cases where proprietary information is applied during the design, only the design specific information is likely to be part of the model. Yet the information must be put into an open format for use by other software tools.

Over multiple construction, renovations, and upgrades, information about the building will be transformed from as-built to as-is data. There are some strategies emerging that create true as built models of the facility that will mitigate this step. Should business processes change to support these approaches many problems will be resolved. Given concerns over the historical use of real estate and material composition of facilities, the information backbone will ultimately assist property owners to evaluate future risks and opportunities. Work to develop lifecycle repositories of building model components and libraries that contain the intellectual property of owners, designers, manufacturers, and others is currently underway. We have faced this problem in the past, as we need to keep the information alive for much longer periods. In the reader’s lifetime, he or she probably has data captured on media or software that can no longer be read. This is not an acceptable scenario moving forward. NBIMS provides an open standard upon which to build repositories of information that will provide value much longer than the current version of software or current hardware platform.


BIM software by the name of Revit by Autodesk has already made its presence in the market. It holds the potential of leading the BIM revolution. The software’s are still improving to the fulfillment of the AECOO demands and goals. BIM has already proved its potential and motivated many architectural technologists to get inspired and do some innovation with it. As an example a team of architects screaming at the current cad systems launched Screampoint effectively defining the seventh dimension of BIM. Intelligently they have extracted the data from the BIM models. They shared it across to the other industries as per there specific needs. There live projects in the field of planning, real estate, property development and motion pictures have proved the capability of the seventh dimension and its hidden potential in shaping a better world. Still there are endless possibilities that are still to be explored i.e. security, real time simulations, virtual shopping, restoration and conservation etc.

The Future Periscope : 

BIM development, education, implementation, adoption, and understanding are intended to form a continuous process ingrained evermore into the industry. Success, in the form of a new paradigm for the building construction industry, will require that individuals and organizations step up to contribute to and participate in creating and implementing a common BIM standard. Each of us has a responsibility to take action now says David A. Harris, FAIA President National Institute of Building Sciences in NIBMS.
I believe the future of BIM will have a 8th Dimension that will be Environment. Currently the Building Performance Analysis is done externally but in future it will be integrated into the BIM system. Every element that we will use will be checked for its environmental impact simultaneously.

Conclusion :

Our present built up environment will not be left without documented information. It will have intelligent seventh dimension that will be an advantage for our future generations in conserving the valuable resources. May be in history this seventh dimension makes us superior to the Greeks because we taught buildings the art of communication.

Pritpal Singh
©Pritpal Singh 2011

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