Considered the second most requested skill (behind field experience) in the industry and used by a growing number of design professionals, Building Information Modeling (BIM) has proved to be the present of architecture. But with constant new features and exciting improvements, it is also very much the future. For decades, the revolutionary software has established itself as a powerful tool with a long list of invaluable capabilities: detecting errors, reducing costs and material waste, mitigating risks, optimizing workflows and, above all, allowing for seamless, multi-disciplinary collaboration.
In a changing world where projects must address topics like sustainability and are overall more complex, BIM must constantly reinvent itself. It must be quick to incorporate new technologies, increase automation and promote better communication between teams. This way, by evolving in parallel with the industry, it can be up-to-date with contemporary issues and continue to assist architects in addressing the challenges and opportunities they regularly face.
Allowing architects to focus on design
With all of this in mind, in the context of their “40 Years of Building Together” celebration, leading BIM architectural software developer Graphisoft launched its latest solutions and services, including its flagship product Archicad 26. Introducing new features and enhancements, the company aims to pave the way towards a future where BIM is more innovative and connected, ultimately allowing architects to focus on what they do best: unleashing their creativity to deliver great design. To get more insight on the upcoming focus areas and planned milestones, we attended the anniversary event and spoke with Graphisoft executives, including Senior Business Product Manager János Detre.
Referencing the main innovations the company is focusing on, János narrowed it down to improving the design stage: “For us, the focus is on the design phase. Everything should be around it, automating this process better, helping architects to really concentrate on what they do best, which is design.” How? With “smarter databases, deeper data structures inside Archicad, easier access to data, finer levels of geometry control, and so on.”
BIM should help architects stay in the creative design flow; that’s what’s most important. The data should be easy to access, and based on that data, architects should be able to follow different design directions, whether it’s regarding sustainability, functionality or nicer aesthetics.
Improvements in design, documentation, visualization and collaboration
To facilitate architects' creative role, Archicad 26 includes more than 20 new features and enhancements in areas ranging from design to collaboration. To improve design, for example, the updated software includes advanced attribute management for accurate project organization, faster navigation to search for specific items, enhanced surface overrides, improved 2D editing and customized kitchen cabinetry.
In addition, thanks to the integration of DDScad, it is possible to fully plan and deliver high-quality Mechanical, Engineering and Plumbing (MEP) projects within the same software, reinforcing the concept of Integrated Design. All of this is complemented with faster, more accurate documentation thanks to features like new autotexts in automated layouts and PDF import enhancements.
Visualization is also a top priority, the focus being providing the necessary tools to create realistic images that show a design in the best possible way to the client – which in turn translates to faster project approval. Thus, Archicad 26 comes with new textures and modern furniture, as well as an optimized 3D model export process. With enhanced visual quality in BIMx, the result is an authentic, high-quality render that involves the client throughout the design process.
Users can now immersively walk around the project, which is one way of democratizing the design because the client is involved better in helping the architect design that building.
Another way to democratize design, on the other hand, has to do with working in open standards and fostering collaboration. In that sense, Archicad 26 brings improved structural analytical model workflows and sustainability enhancements for smoother interoperability between architects and engineers. Specifically, this translates to solutions like automatic live load generation, smoother information exchange between Archicad and Structural Analysis applications, and an increased file capacity in BIMcloud. The technology also integrates new reliable energy and CO2 building material data for accurate lifecycle analysis and sustainability reports.
Sharing knowledge and promoting productivity
Along with the release of software solutions, Graphisoft has also updated its supportive services with the goal of further empowering customers. Graphisoft Forward, for instance, was created to guarantee that users get access to productivity tools like the Library Part Maker, meaning they can develop their own parametric object library (doors, windows, etc.) without scripting.
At the same time, with Graphisoft Learn, users can acquire knowledge and delve deeper into the BIM ecosystem through different certified courses and learning bundles. The first of three new bundles is already available, which includes several video courses regarding modeling, design options, BIM workflows and documentation. To offer additional support, Graphisoft Community seeks to makes it easy for users to get expert help and feedback from peer users. Current improvements include articles covering new features, solutions, services and events, among others.
Looking ahead: new technologies and sustainability
In the last 40 years, Graphisoft has aimed to keep up with the latest innovations through various enhancements to Archicad solutions and services, addressing current challenges and tackling more complex designs. Looking ahead, the next steps appear to be clear, especially as more technologies enter the market and new uses for BIM are being discovered. There are current efforts, for example, to experiment with several industry innovations, from supporting the STL file export used for 3D-printing to connecting Archicad with Virtual Reality.
We are definitely experimenting with these new technologies. We want to keep that streamlined creative flow for architects and use technology, whatever it is, to contribute to it.
With artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies disrupting the industry, future possibilities become practically endless. But for BIM to truly contribute to a healthier built environment, it is crucial to not overlook sustainability. Although some progress has been made, there is still a lot left to improve, such as “providing greater access to more local material databases” and “supporting every stage of a project where certifications could be applied,” as János says.
Whatever the present and future may imply for BIM, there seem to be a few key concepts to pay close attention to: accessibility, collaboration, technological innovation, sustainability and, above all, good design.