Building Information Modelling is the talk of the construction industry, with much of the development concentrating on the construction process. But what if you start thinking in BIM earlier, much earlier…

A new application from Flux called Metro takes the principle of taking multiple data sources and combining them in an urban planning and site selection tool. This beta version covers Austin, Texas, but the company hope to role out versions for other cities in due course. Though a Belfast version may still be some time off…

Flux is a spin off from the Google X innovation incubator, so it has some serious backing and the ability to harness industry leading data collection and analysis tools.

The principle is a simple one. Identify and combine all of a cities planning restrictions, conservation area restrictions, zoning areas /criteria, development codes and regulations with a 3D rendering of the city. In doing so, Planners and Developers can instantly see what opportunities exist and identify where restrictions would reduce development potential. Each restriction can be interrogated and its context can be seen in virtual reality.

This is PIM – Planning Information Modelling…
BIM taken to a city wide level

Flux‘s ambitions do not stop at site selection… they are already testing auto-design of buildings using seeds to create buildings within the parameters defined by Metro.
This next generation of BIM tools will include all the necessary parameters for structural and HVAC design as well as the ability to auto generate facade systems. The logical further BIM step into automated production and assembly is no doubt part of the long term strategy.

Whilst fully automated building design and construction may be a bit away, the application has the potential to use BIM to reduce the development time for a given site, by testing options rapidly. This could give developers the advantage in cities where development is fast paced and there is a need to make a decision on a site as fast as possible.

Until there is a role out of a Belfast version we will just have to continue to call on the experience and knowledge of our chartered Town Planners to advise our clients!

BIM for Developers, Belfast Northern Ireland