Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 8.08.17 AMWhat is BIMcloud?

When CAD changed to BIM, many thought it was just a new name for 3D. When LAN changed to cloud, many thought it meant that we would use DropBox to create backups. Neither of these two, as with many other misconceptions were or are true. What is however true, which the misconceptions do clearly illustrate, is that the local industry has not yet embraced BIM, even partially. Some of the main factors that are contributing to this locally are, first the lack of the building industry project design and execution discipline’s adoption of the new workflows needed to achieve a true BIM process and second, the lack of BIM industry data.

it is particularly encouraging to see that GRAPHISOFT have started to address the realization of project wide BIM design workflow and implementation realization with the release of BIMcloud. This technology, essentially makes a full BIM model accessible by all parties involved in the design and construction of the building. In BIM context, this finally allows the high levels of BIM data, to be maintained at all times, avoiding the current typical design and construction workflow, which requires repeated downgrades of BIM data to various document formats.

it will be very interesting to see how the industry adopts and explores this powerful technology.

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BIM – a discussion about oranges

I was recently a speaker at the inaugural BIM Summit Africa, where I was privileged to hear not only the presentations of all the other speakers, but the comments of several delegates during the Q&A’s and in the breakout sessions. I was struck by a very common thread, which I did not expect:

  1. almost without exception, it was the submission and impression of this group of people, that BIM is a 3D modelling process of building and infrastructure projects, predominantly for the purpose of “visualising” clashes and design errors
  2. there is an awareness of the need to adopt BIM, but not an understanding why, which I suppose is fuelled in part by point 1
  3. BIM is seen as an isolated event, limited in consideration to the activities of one discipline, not as a project wide and full life cycle tool to collaborate ideas, aid design and deliver accurate information to every participant

I was surprised by these three issues, as I believed that BIM was an internationally understood and appreciated concept by now, it is 2012 after all! Nonetheless, I was wrong. There were many other misconceptions about BIM, that struck me, such as the notion, that you could complete an entire BIM based project design, documentation, construction and management of a building project in the software of a single vendor, in a single file. This was soon dispelled as pure myth, as the “owners” of such BIM software packages, although proud of their investment, soon pointed to several problems experienced in their workflow, resulting in 2D CAD “bailouts” and non transferable data clashes between various disciplines.

The outcome to it all in my opinion is as follows:

  1. in Africa, certainly in South Africa, there is a growing need for BIM, fuelled from developers, contractors and clients, where the accuracy of the completed design and as build information is of interest
  2. there are already in South Africa, a range of successful BIM projects, encompassing the entire process from design to facilities management
  3. BIM is not an orange, but a fruit salad (more about this below)

During my own presentation on day 1, I presented the following (abbreviated here) in regards BIM:

a discussion about oranges, presented by André Strauss

My brief BIM history:

  • 18 years of BIM, since 1994
  • 1996 – simple architectural BIM exploration, model use to generate sections, elevations, areas – GATEWAY 300,000sq/m
  • 2005 – advent of further analysis – Pearls – area comparisons and scheduling up to 48 storeys, visual impact studies, shadow studies
  • 1995 – first stages facilities management – UKZN – 3D documentation of
  • now running full BIM service on large and complex research and medical facilities, all services fully coordinated (inclusive of automated clash detection), commissioning procedures (all element data captured, from serial numbers to sign-off agents and required servicing intervals) and facilities management (BIM model based, automated systems for scheduled and breakdown maintenance, element event history tracking, inclusive of live BMS input and asset tracking)

Topic 1: WHAT IS BIM?

This will not be a definition as we find on the internet, please read that independently.

In my opinion, BIM:

  • is not an orange
  • BIM is a fruit salad

What on earth does this mean? Well, let us look at what BIM is required to do in a project, or where does BIM start and stop on a project?

  • it starts with conceptualisation, or even earlier, if the prospective developer or owner can use it to asses the property for a project, it should include all input data, such as GIS, weather, locality, etc.
  • it continues with all design disciplines: architecture, engineering, quantity and cost estimation, it must therefor be equally adept at visualising spacial aspects, as it should be calculating structural loads or mechanical ventilation requirements, etc.
  • it further includes peripheral disciplines such as suppliers & governing bodies, typically hosting their data in cloud based solutions and seldom in the formats utilised by design consultants
  • it certainly does not end with, but includes facilities management of the building’s full life cycle, which should include disciplines such as tenant management, asset management, maintenance scheduling, etc.

The question that springs to mind, after listing SOME of the requirements that BIM has to meet on any given project, is:

  • Do all these stages and disciplines live in a single BIM?

I believe the answer is no. I believe that BIM is not an orange, rather a fruit salad. BIM means Building Information Model (I did say I would not give the internet definition – I apologise). It therefor suggests that at any given stage of a building’s life cycle, a model, containing as much information as is available, should be at hand, allowing the next stage to be attended to as best possible with all such information available. This can therefor not be housed in a structural design specific “BIM” oriented software, or any other discipline specific software for that matter.

Some examples of discipline specific BIM software solutions that are available in the market place are:

  • ArchiCAD – BIM based architectural design and documentation
  • ArchiFM – BIM based facilities management
  • CostOS – BIM based cost estimation, quantity take off and specification
  • Tekla, Strusoft, DDS – BIM based structural and mechanical

The question then is, what is a real BIM for the entire project life cycle? I believe it is something called: OpenBIM

Topic 2: OpenBIM

We are aware that the project design, bid and build process and time scale have changed from the traditional expended sequential, to the modern condensed simultaneous, which has pressurised design teams in time, but more so in the need for simultaneous design exploration and solution development, in many cases, whilst construction has commenced. This situation requires the sharing of more information, more rapidly – enter BIM. HOWEVER, the situation does require each discipline to be more efficient, more accurate and faster, this can only be done in a dedicated solution for each discipline. The question then is, how does each discipline use the best software for that discipline, whilst sharing enough information with other disciplines to do the same on their side – enter OPENBIM! exit – TRADITIONAL WORKFLOW

Again, we should address the question, why can we not just share the same model between all disciplines? The answer: the information needed by each discipline is different, although it may pertain to the exact same element within the building. Let us review a column and slab, as handled by a structural engineer and an architect. Clearly very different. What is the solution – OpenBIM!

Each trade to use the best global/local BIM solution available in every project…


Open BIM is a universal approach to the  collaborative design, realization and operation of buildings based on open standards and workflowsOpen BIM is an initiative of buildingSMART and several leading software vendors using the open buildingSMART Data Model.

concept 1: Reference Model

Benefits of reference models:

  • Clear ownership of models
  • Workflow compatibility
  • Change management

concept 2: Model Filtering & Classification

concept 3: Change Management

Requirements for the BIM technology to offer a solution:

  • System independence
  • Workflow transparency
  • Ownership of BIM data
  • Information classification
  • Reference model concept

Using IFC to deliver OpenBIM:

  • Commit to:  the utilization of open standards such as Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs)
  • Engage: any vendor with similar strategy to participate (even competing products)
  • Attract: users of BIM solutions to join the workflow, without giving up their production tool


  1. Work with the best-of-breed solutions
  2. Maintain full control over software upgrades
  3. Reduce coordination errors
  4. Create BIM for the entire building life-cycle

Some BIM Software packages that support the OpenBIM concept:


Open BIM is supported by various organizations that host related information in their own domains. Please visit any of the following pages for further information:

To participate in the Open BIM program please contact buildingSMART at

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spires & random encounters in South-Western-Central Europe

I am mostly going to focus on churches, monuments and art in this post, but I thought that this humble earthmover had some stately splendour in it’s pose, that warranted it’s inclusion…

My annual excursion to Europe for business with enforced pleasure, took me to Barcelona, Narbonne, Wiesbaden and Dresden…I saw some good stuff out there…here are the highlights…

in Barcelona…gonna get in trouble for this possibly…the religion is football…or maybe the “other” religion…

Camp Nou Barcelona, home of yes you know it, Messi and FC Barcelona, got to pick a blade of the sacred turf…

Tasted not unlike my lawn at home, but judging from the behaviour of the other visitors around me, it was the nectar of the gods, hard to grasp for a Durban boy, who’s host nation could not get past stage 1 in the recent World Cup…ah 2010, you promised so much…

Water’s edge, 8pm, Port Vell, Barcelona Harbour…beautiful moment, felt warmer than it was, a momentary escape from the extreme bustle that is the city of Barcelona…



pick pockets




many people

It was actually quite beautiful, it took quite some time to finish dinner and depart from the water’s edge, this is getting flowery…apologies bloggers…moving on

Columbus statue

at end of La Ramblas

statue like


very busy circle

very busy


Gaudi…no comment really…

Work time now, foyer of conference gala dinner

no idea really where this is, except near harbour

great sound and lights show, followed by some traditional dance and dinner ofcourse

really a great evening



Now for a big day in my life. Always been a bit of a Dali lover, since high school, to the great concern of my art teacher and principal unfortunately, but this guy made me “see”…thank you Señor!

Small square adjacent to the Dali museum in Figueres, Spain, super wow, select works to follow, no comment…

Mind blowing “trip” that was…

a boy in a candy store…

loved it…

inspired to look in the mirror again…again…


was supposed to be no comment, but really, really…

on with wow overdose…back to Barcelona…Sagrada Familia…took my family

thought the cranes did a particularly good job trying to “fit” in

it was wow…really

Barcelona communications tower, Tibidabo mountain

Byzantine church on top of Tibidabo mountain, some 500 meters plus above the city, it was a clear day, spot the Pyrenees in the backgrounds of the north facing photos, yes, they have snow and yes, they look like clouds. The views were breathtaking…cannot imagine how these spires were built in this position… and yes, I took that photo!

Germany time

Wiesbaden’s Market Church

a magnificent red brick structure in the heart of the old city in Wiesbaden

Hope Church



Wiesbaden’s Neroberg Temple, built in 1851


The hill features a funicular, built in 1888, climbing 80m at a 25%, propelled by a water ballast – GO GREEN ENERGY!!! It is considered as a technological landmark!


The Russian Orthodox church on the hill, with STUNNING gold leaf domes.



To the village of Eltville now

In the heart of the Rhein Riesling Wine region.

The Monastery of Eberbach

where basically wine has been produced for about 800 years by monks who settled there from the French Bordeaux region.

Apparently there was no heating, poor windows, cold stone, very little sleep and a lot of choir practice, this makes for a very good white wine…good job chaps!

Just to enjoy again, the sheer splendour of Wiesbaden’s Market Church.

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Digital Aids to BIM – Software/Hardware – Orthograph on the iPad

The versatility of the iPad2, has been extended for building survey purposes, for the use of architects, facilities managers, real estate owners and building accessors, by the introduction of OrthoGraph Building survey software by ProFM.

The software delivers ease of use, which for this application scenario is vital, as the suggested use requires the “surveyor” to be mobile, YET ACCURATE. Traditional means have comfortably delivered mobility, but have been lacking in the accuracy department. Lets take a look at the functionality:

I have chosen to use the landscape/horizontal mode of the iPad (portrait is also available).

Landscape orientation, offers a constant view of the building hierarchy with show and hide functionality on the left side. Next I have selected to draw a freehand shape of the building or room, with a wall width, height and offset side. I have selected automatic dimension display, to gain immediate feedback on the sizes I have sketched out.

Using the inspector function, I can “examine” the attributes of any segment of wall I have created, as shown by this pop up menu.

Next I decide to accurately enter by numeric value the lengths of each wall segment. The model is being adjusted accordingly by the software.

Each “corrected” numeric entry I make is highlighted in red as a segment and it’s corner nodes are changed from red questionmarket circles, to green ticket circles, so visually, it is very easy to see which dimensions I have entered (probably in accordance with my on site survey process).

Next, I switch to the elements tab at the top, where I can select element types such as doors, windows and objects. I start with a double door. Insert it and then use the “inspector” to review its settings.

After insertion of several doors and windows, I proceed to checking the positioning of these doors and windows, by performing numeric entries of “setting out” dimensions, from corners I have previously verified (green ticket circles) by my onsite survey. You will note the same green visual circles for the nodes of the doors and windows, with accompanying red dimensions.

Now to create a second building. Using the building hierarchy on the left, I create a new building and stipulate it’s relationship to the first. Again I use the sketch tool. This time I draw very poorly and get a “skew” edged building.

Using the nodal adjustment tools under the drawing tab, I am able to simply drag and snap the node to correct the “skew” edge.

This is followed by articulation of this larger building, again by use of tools from the drawing tab. Adding radiussed edges and extrusions.

Insertion of doors and windows follow. With object aswell, as per the pop up object selection menu.

The “inspectors” used in the following images, show various elements of the project, including the buildings, being analysed for accuracy, whilst still on site.

No need to find expensive errors on return to the office, requiring yet another site survey “expedition”…brilliant!

The Orthograph “model” that is created, can be exported directly to ArchiCAD, with all 3D and data attributes (BIM) included in the export process.

Note that attributes such as floor level and height are available for input, via Orthograph, whilst still on site. This means that split level surveys are handled comfortably.

Take a moment to watch the full demonstration video from ProFM at the end of this post.

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real BIM projects…yes they exist

I have been in discussion recently with the organisers of a BIM summit in Johannesburg, planned for August 2012. I must admit, I am looking forward to IT, should be an interesting experience.

As the discussions developed, I realised our local BIM needs two things desperately:

  1. confidence, yes, confidence, many people in SADC use a BIM software within their own discipline, however project wide is a very different level of treachery, which most design consultants and contractors are not willing to enter into
  2. industry support, we need the local market place to embrace BIM, suppliers need to provide specifications of energy ratings on their products and BIM models, not 2D drawings

Here in SADC, we have the full benefit of first world information, in BIM, this is true too, here in SADC we know what every BIM software manufacturer claims it’s products can do, we further are constantly notified of high end European building product manufacturers, who have published more and more BIM based online product. It must mean that we in SADC generally know what BIM is all about in the first world, what then is the reason for such a low BIM project take up? I believe it’s confidence and industry support.

To give some positives, I have decided to create a real BIM projects series, talking about local projects, suppliers, product, circumstances and more, related to real implementation, my series will be published under the following chapters:

  1. real projects in SADC using BIM today
    • project details
    • project challenges
    • BIM advantages on selected projects
    • end to end BIM project consultants, designers to contractors
  2. BIM technical support in SADC today
    • BIM training centres
    • BIM certification
    • BIM service providers
  3. building industry BIM support in SADC today
    • manufacturer product models
    • manufacturer product specifications
  4. digital aids to BIM

The series by no means is suggested to be exhaustive, rather to highlight the prevalence of activity to address the lack of confidence amongst most and to further encourage a greater support level from all members of the industry. Your input is welcomed at every instance.

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Bird on a wire


It’s not a Sunday afternoon, but this bird is in full “bloon”. The common sparrow, not South African, but an institution nonetheless.
Stark contrast, like black and white, of rich and poor, now wipe that floor. My Africa.

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Trees are the days of our lives


On any given Sunday, you find the birds and bees, singing soliloquies to the ants and flees.
In Africa we grow as one, reaching up, breathing deep. . . For our lust for life, far out ways our disillusionment with that which is known to the powerful bellowing from their towers of might.

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