Many people in the AEC (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) industry around the world are talking about BIM. In countries such as the UK, Italy, Korea and many others, there will be legal BIM requirements in effect from 2016 and many more countries have national BIM standards associations formulating what BIM should mean to them.

For many working in the industry, the broad concepts and goals of BIM appear to be well understood and there are many things already agreed. However, comparisons between BIM implementation in countries and companies suggest that many details remain hotly debated. The role of 3D visualization within the BIM context is also a subject that gets the juices flowing of many passionate BIM evangelists. Despite all the hot debate, there’s some easily accessible and helpful information out there, like this introduction film, by B1M, which is based on the PAS 1192-2 UK specification. Worth a watch for those starting out on their BIM implementation journey.

Above: Bew-Richards diagram illustrating BIM maturity stages

Finding the definitive answer to what BIM fully incorporates is difficult. Most people seem to agree that implementation of a full BIM solution is a process which takes time to realise. It also needs to go through stages before it becomes a mature set of practices. Lovelock Mitchell recently described what BIM means to them in an interview with the Lumion team. They also explained the major role that visualization plays in practice. This was a refreshingly simple view of BIM and many of the benefits were already being reaped from a few relatively simple decisions.

Interoperability between software programs is one of the main enablers of an effective BIM approach. Lumion makes its contribution by being able to import and handle updates from many forms of modern 3D data files including .DAE, .FBX and .SKP plus many others. Seamless importing and re-importing of updated models from almost any BIM or 3D modelling software is the pleasant consequence.

The introduction of MyLumion.com has also made a step towards helping architects to comply with BIM concepts. This facility allows visualized 3D Models surrounded by their environments to be simply and quickly published to the cloud from within Lumion. Anyone working on the project can access and view the 3D panoramas online using any device from anywhere with an internet connection. This could even be on a construction site using a mobile phone or tablet.

It’s easy to imagine a fast and efficient collaborative process starting with a model in Revit (for example), uploading it into Lumion and building a realistic scene around it, then rendering it to the cloud where people look at it on site or anywhere else in the world. They might then immediately offer feedback, so that the design/visualization iteration cycle could begin again. The second iteration would just click the reload button in Lumion and skip the scene building stage. So after a design change in Revit in the office, a client could literally be looking minutes later at an implemented “Google-streetview-style” visualization online via MyLumion.com.

Given the current stage of BIM understanding and its implementation maturity, Lumion is doing its best to make a contribution to interoperability, data sharing and communicability of design intent; all of which are part of the big picture that the BIM movement is currently trying to improve.

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