By Martyn Horne, Member of the UK Landscape Institute’s BIM Working Group
Landscape architects and designers may view Building Information Modeling (BIM) as something specific to architects. However, BIM isn’t a piece of software or a file format revolving around architectural structures; it’s a series of workflows enabled by information technology that can be used to create anything in the built environment. The “Building” in BIM isn’t a noun, as in “the building,” but a verb, as in “to build.” Understanding this twist of language opens many doors for landscape professionals to improve how they do business.
The key aim of BIM is to facilitate collaboration, communication, and effective data exchange between different members of a construction team, which occurs even without an existing building in a 3D model. There is still a wealth of information regarding the site in the model and its linked 2D plans, including elevations, sections, and construction schedules. Landscape BIM can be used to conduct a water flow analysis, or a minimum and maximum grading analysis; find water volumes; create tree surveys and tree protection plans, planting schedules, material quantities, and maintenance reports; and detect clashes with underground services like sewage and electrical equipment. All of this information can live within one 3D model, providing a valuable resource for every party involved in the development of a site from the designer to the construction team to the owner.
BIM will undoubtedly require landscape professionals to learn new processes and acquire new skills. But this is an exciting time for the entire construction industry, including landscape architecture, and by embracing this new technology, we can increase technical efficiency and make more time for creativity and design.
For more information about incorporating BIM into your landscape workflow, visit the Landscape Institute website.