A BIM trial project for a near-zero energy building

The architectural firm Iglesias Leenders Bylois Architects (ILB Architects) has begun to incorporate the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM). The biggest advocate is architect Meindert Leenders, who believes that every architecture office should work with BIM:

“It doesn’t have to be a big project. Take a real case, set yourself some achievable goals and try to build them in BIM.” The ILB chose ‘Bergerheide’ as a test: a project consisting of three villas in a park, designed in collaboration with the construction company Dethier.The rules for collaboration have been clearly defined by project manager Vlaanderen Bouwt vzw, providing architects with a solid framework for experimenting with BIM.

Meet sustainable requirements with BIM

ILB architects have a very personal approach to their projects, whether public buildings, office buildings, industrial buildings, housing projects, construction and renovation of individual houses or the design of a public domain.

“ILB always gives its customers what they want, but not necessarily what they expect,” Leenders said.

To achieve this goal, the company systematically monitors all aspects of the work, down to the smallest detail. The simplicity of the concept and the search for creative and economically sustainable solutions always serve as a starting point. “We try to do something beautiful and innovative every time, without resorting to excessive experimentation,” Leenders said.

This approach has repeatedly benefited the firm during pitches to win projects, including the “Bergerheide” housing project. The requirements had already been established according to the special “Green Living” urban plan, which emphasizes living in sustainable and resilient spaces. ILB focused on providing a sustainable solution, part of which is encompassed by the design of green roofs for parking lots.

“These are all NZEB (near zero energy buildings) apartments, so they are energy efficient,” explained Leenders. “Furthermore, we have chosen to give the building a distinctive spatial quality, with the terraces deliberately placed at the corners, so that each apartment has a dual aspect to provide improved ventilation, natural sunshine and flexibility from the tenants.”

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Bergerheide / Iglesias Leenders Bylois Architects. Image courtesy of Vectorworks
Choose Vectorworks Architect for BIM

ILB has tried other design programs over the years. “So far, we’ve found Vectorworks to be the best. The program is intuitive and flexible,” Leenders said. “Vectorworks allows us to quickly communicate custom designs to our various construction partners.”

He pointed out an additional benefit: Vectorworks allows you to work in both 2D and 3D. “Vectorworks lets you make changes in 2D even after you’ve started your 3D design. Other programs won’t let you do that,” he said.

During the process of implementing BIM, Leenders also noticed that the initial resistance expressed by his colleagues quickly faded.

“When considering BIM, many people only think of Open BIM, the exchange of IFC files and editing the 3D design itself. But it’s much more than that.” Leenders thinks that people often forget the full scope of BIM and that internal processes and goals become more efficient with coordinated schedules, worksheets, takeoffs and even borders and title block designs – all of these components are part of the BIM.

“Vectorworks BIM tools allow me to design efficiently and with flexibility, ensuring a more productive collaboration process,” explained Leenders. “Plus, colleagues who want to move to 3D can still contribute to the design process, as the software is designed to accommodate a mix of 2D and 3D workflows. They can focus on the 2D aspect, draw spatial elements or complete facades.”

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Bergerheide / Iglesias Leenders Bylois Architects. Image courtesy of Vectorworks

Another important BIM aspect for ILB is the ability to generate sections directly from the 3D model. According to Leenders, the one thing architects need to be aware of is the urge to include too much detail.

“Many architects want to draw everything – every spindle of a balustrade, every possible potted plant, etc. Often even the interior is included in the design. This, of course, is unnecessary and makes the file very large. Basically , BIM allows you to control the story you’re trying to tell and capture its essence in 3D.”

Troubleshooting IFC Exports

ILB learned a useful lesson when exporting its model to IFC. An issue arose where they were too detailed to the point of not adding much more to the collaboration process.

For example, the architects drew a recess in the wall where ventilation was to be provided – every post and lintel was shown, as well as all exposed concrete plinths.

“Of course, as an architect, you have to add enough detail, but our export was almost identical to the production drawings, which actually didn’t really add to the usability of the export,” Leenders said. .

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Bergerheide / Iglesias Leenders Bylois Architects. Image courtesy of Vectorworks

As soon as the architects could control the level of detail, they did some successful exchange tests with design offices, which led Dethier, the construction company, to be impressed with the IFC export.

“They applied different queries, generated masonry blocks in the file and used the model, for example, to create the reinforcement planes faster,” Leenders said.

BIM efficiency galore

Initially, BIM required additional upfront work to develop a repeatable system, but in the end, the investment always pays off, according to Leenders.

“Apart from the fact that you can fix problems before they even arise, you can also extract a lot of data from the 3D model,” he said. “Last week, for example, we had to schedule windows for all three blocks. These windows were accurate to the millimeter. We had to map over two hundred windows and it was done in an afternoon. Try doing this in 2D… It will take you a week.

His experience working on the Bergerheide project made Leenders even more convinced of Vectorworks’ BIM capabilities. “BIM is a means to an end, but never an end in itself, even though the other packages seem to suggest it,” he advised. “To start using BIM, all you need to do is set a few goals. Let’s take a concrete case, something small, and try to integrate it into BIM. The sooner you start, the better.”

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