Thursday, 2 February 2012

The National BIM Library – Behind the Scenes

There has been some discussion recently on our linkedin group regarding whether the National BIM Library (NBL) project is really BIM or simply one software vendor format with “lip service” being paid to IFC. In the discussion thread I rejected this opinion, but must accept that there hasn’t been much communication from us on how the content is being produced behind the scenes. This post tries to give a little indication on how the objects are being created.

We have commissioned the BIM Academy to undertake the first big chunk of work on the NBL. This was due to our confidence that the team work between BIM Academy and NBS would be able to do some pretty special things. BIM Academy is a joint venture that brings together Ryder Architecture with their experience of BIM in industry and Northumbria University with their BIM knowledge, software skills and bespoke IFC tool kits.

The process for authoring and production is as follows:

The documentation for the BIM objects is initially done in a set of spreadsheets. These link the object types to the structures and materials and define the type and instance properties. IFC is key to this process, from the object types to the standard property sets and COBie property sets. The screenshots below show a little of this… 


This data is the source that can be agreed with the NBS Technical Team. The BIM Academy IFC software toolkits then process this information into verified IFC2x3 format. This central source can then be imported into the object-orientated CAD software. At this stage, the core information is translated using IFC, with some additional matching of material and hatch patterns. But all in all it’s a really good process and something that is really pushing the interoperability agenda.

The files in the native software-vendor format then need a little tidy up and presented nicely to the user. The screenshot below shows this…

Then the objects are ready to use as resources in projects. The two screenshots below show a very simple example of concept walls being developed into detailed walls…


We’re starting to edge closer to launch now. We’re really hoping that everyone will like what they see (please come to our NBS/RIBA Enterprises stand at ecobuild and say hello). By following the process outlined in this blog post, embracing standard property sets and including commonly used UK constructions and workflow, we’re hoping it’s going to be the start of something really special.

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