Big BIM benefits for healthcare design
A world without BIM, or Building Information Modelling, may feel like ancient history to some in the industry. But in the rich legacy of architecture and design, the technology-driven tool is a relative newcomer.
Traditionally, teams would create 2D computer-aided designs, which they translated into 3D models to show how different building elements would come together. These models provided spatial information and nothing more. As US-based integrated firm, EYP, shared in a 2017 article:
“In this first pure BM phase, an atom of BIM was simply a 3D object. There was no other data, no opportunity to create schedules of components or arrange them on a timeline or count them for cost estimating. It was simply geometry.”
However, researchers and computer scientists soon found ways to tag data to these 3D objects—data that could be arranged in a systematic manner that was useful to project planning.
By the early 2000s, software that placed information at its core started emerging. With these programs, data powers the modelling, which is supported by real-world architectural context. For example, a wall “knows” where in a structure it stands, “understands” that it could host windows and doors, and is capable of being scheduled.
It’s easy to understand how this merging of information management and building modelling (to create BIM) offers several benefits for the AEC industry. But perhaps no other group feels the impact of the tech more than healthcare project teams. The pressures of cost, schedule and safety is amplified by the scale and complexity of designing a hospital, where multiple building elements may compete for the same space, and the efficiency of systems can literally mean life or death.
“In healthcare, BIM is an increasingly important tool enabling greater efficiencies and collaboration during the design and construction phase,” Andy Cunningham, regional director at Autodesk, explains.
“At the beginning of a project, BIM ensures people and teams collaborate much earlier. Shared responsibility means teams will know and understand processes, and the ambiguity of projects decreases as a clear picture of what to expect appears.”
At the same time, operating in a healthcare environment is a time sensitive task, he adds. “By using intelligent, data-rich models of existing buildings, access to information is easier and more organised, helping get information to people who need it in a timely fashion.”
What’s next for BIM in healthcare?
According to Autodesk, the answer is simple: advanced technology.
“BIM has already radically transformed the way we design healthcare spaces, and as the technology continue to evolve, this will only become more sophisticated.
“Computers and machines will do more to support the design process. Instead of manually drawing walls, doors, and columns for what we think is a good design, we’ll leverage sophisticated algorithms that will automatically feed designers with the optimal building footprint, structural load capacity, and thermal performance, for example.
“This will radically speed up the time it takes to design and test ideas.”