18.05.2018 Tim Westphal

And thoughts remain free: Creativity versus BIM?

Creativity finds a valve, regardless of the means used for its visualization. This "creative law" has a direct influence on the use of the BIM planning method, as many architects and engineers associate BIM with a loss of creative power in design and planning. However, BIM is a useful tool that, when used correctly, creates more freedom for creative work. 
Graphisoft, the manufacturer of the BIM planning software Archicad, asked four architects about their experiences with the digital planning method. They paint a differentiated picture in which BIM in no way inhibits good architecture and creativity. 
Recognising the value of one's own work.
The viewpoint of Titus Bernhard (Titus Bernhard Architekten) is clear: "BIM and creativity are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, I see BIM as a tool for structuring a project, for simplifying handling with the participants in the planning process, and for facilitating handling with the client. Two levels meet: The design level, which has to do with the talent and the understanding of the architect, and the second level, which is the structuring of the project, its handling, and the possibility of generating efficiency with BIM. In the best-case scenario, this means greater efficiency and simple processing, and that we as a result have more time for the design work."
In the beginning there is the vision. BIM doesn't change this.
Hans-Martin Renn (Renn Architekten) also recognises a technological component: "In the beginning there is the vision. BIM doesn't change this. This vision needs to be filled and underpinned. Building products, technology, and the demands placed on architects have all changed. The whole structure is new. It's great when you can see where the difficulties lie as early as the planning stage and not just on the construction site. BIM is a method that supports creativity – technologically." 
Understanding the processes and mastering the tools.
But why are many architects reluctant to introduce BIM despite the positive feedback? Torben Wadlinger (Graf + Partner Architekten) primarily blames the ignorance concerning work processes for this: "Many people miss the point: BIM and design are two separate things. If I design in the traditional way, for example with my 6B pencil, then this sketch is subsequently transformed into a spatial structure. And if a pencil sketch can be structurally realised in this way, then I can plan and build it virtually too. If I'm unable to do so, I simply haven't mastered my BIM tool. A lot of colleagues say to me: 'BIM robs architects of their creativity.' That, however, is what those who don't work with the tool say."
BIM is the tool in the planning process. The architecture is the result. 
Florian Kraft's office (Stefan Forster Architekten) also works with BIM: "The method and its influence on architects' creativity are hotly debated here in Frankfurt. Recently I was at an event and people were saying: 'For heaven's sake, what is this new BIM thing?' 25 years ago, when CAD was introduced into offices, people reacted in the exact same way, and were wondering whether CAD would limit creativity. It did not. I'm a trained carpenter. In the past, whenever I got hold of a new tool, I used to think: 'What can I do with this, and how will it allow me to work more effectively and better?' It's the same with BIM. As architects, it is our tool."

Hans-Martin Renn: »Am Anfang steht die Vision, die es gilt technologisch zu untermauern.« Die Skiflugschanze, die er für Oberstdorf plante, verknüpft die Teilplanungen von Statik, Stahlbau (gut zu sehen im rechten Bild) und Entwurfsidee im BIM-Gesamtmodell. Im Ergebnis untermauert die Methode sowohl die konstruktive wie die gestalterische Qualität. Beide Visualisierungen sind direkt aus ARCHICAD generiert.
Planung und Realität liegen dicht beieinander: Die Heini-Klopfer-Skiflugschanze Oberstdorf ist mit BIM geplant.
Stefan Forster Architekten aus Frankfurt arbeiten konsequent über alle Leistungsphasen hinweg mit der BIM-Methode. Florian Kraft, einer der Partner des Büros und sehr gut mit der Methode vertraut: »BIM ist das Werkzeug der Architekten, das die Ideen und die Kreativität nicht einschränken, sondern fördert.« Im Bild links: die Wohnbebauung »Oskar Residence«, direkt am Frankfurter Main-Ufer. Rechtes Foto: die Wohnanlage »Riedberg 04«. 106 Wohnungen entstanden hier im Frankfurter Stadtteil Riedberg.
Hans-Martin Renn: "In the beginning there is the vision, which needs to be technologically underpinned." The ski jump he planned for Oberstdorf combines the partial planning of statics, the steel construction (clearly visible in the image on the right) and the design idea in the BIM overall model. As a result, the method underpins both the constructive and design quality. Both visualizations are generated directly from ARCHICAD.
Planning and reality lie close together: The Heini Klopfer Ski Jump Oberstdorf has been planned with BIM.
Stefan Forster Architekten from Frankfurt work consistently with the BIM method throughout all work phases. Florian Kraft, one of the office partners and very familiar with the method, says: "BIM is a tool for architects that, rather than restricting ideas and creativity, instead promotes them." Left photo: the "Oskar Residence" residential development, directly on the banks of the river Main in Frankfurt. Right photo: the "Riedberg 04" housing estate. 106 apartments were built here in Frankfurt's Riedberg district.
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