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What is Open BIM? And What Are Its Benefits Over Closed BIM?

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Open BIM

Building Information Modeling (BIM):

BIM- Building Information Modelling is the new genre in the AEC industry. BIM allows building life cycle management and makes design communication, review, and execution much easier and feasible. Moreover, the AEC industry is on the verge of transition and BIM has gained recognition also as a tool for pre-construction stages, project management, cost analysis, etc. Furthermore, BIM is not just a tool, it is indeed now a business process. The decisive advantage offered by BIM in architecture and design leads to fewer collisions and errors in the planning thereby also making costs well under control. Deadlines and budgets are also thus aligned efficiently throughout the life cycle of the building. Having said that, the needs of the hour is not only to implement BIM on an optimum level but also to understand the nitty-gritty of this technology’. This article intends to introduce Open BIM and Closed BIM and their differences.

The BIM Revolution 

Open BIM

Different stakeholders in the AEC industry lie Architects, Contractors, MEP engineers, Structural consultants, etc. have resorted to collaborating and managing projects through BIM tools. This shift in architectural design and project executions showcases the resolution that BIM has brought in. But while there are different tools and a range of methods to execute BIM, there can be collisions in setting a common ground between different stakeholders and agencies working collectively on a project. This is where the concept of Open BIM & Closed BIM comes to play.  Let us deeply understand what these two types of BIM systems are to better gauge the advantages and disadvantages of these systems. Read about “How BIM Boosts The AEC Industry“.

What is an Open BIM System?

Open BIM

Open BIM is a system of workflow that enables all the stakeholders in a project to collaborate and exchange project information with each other using a non-proprietary, neutral file format irrespective of the variations in the BIM tools and applications used by the different participants. The information exchanged here is not restricted to just the BIM model’s geometric data but also includes the parametric data such as material specifications, cost estimation, phase of construction, procurement of construction materials, etc.  Open BIM is thus seen as a more progressive method as it facilitates better coordination among the AEC personnel and stakeholders, leading accomplish projects better.  AEC projects are complex when it comes to constantly aligning the off-site and onsite information, thus requiring constant collaboration and communication between the site and office. Using Open BIM ensures everyone is on the same page and develops a universal language, thereby standardizing the process. This further ensures the data quality and prevents several inputs of identical data and significant issues. 

What is a Closed BIM System?

Open BIM

Also referred to as ‘lonely BIM’, Closed BIM is an environment where the stakeholders are required to use the same BIM application, and at times also the same version of that software. While different stakeholders use the applications depending on their role in the project, Closed BIM requires them to use these applications from the same vendor. For instance, While the designer may design using Revit Architecture to model architectural elements, the structural engineer will use Revit Structure to define the building’s structure in the model whereas the MEP design consultant would use Revit MEP to model the aspects of building services. Though there is no file conversion required in this process, the compulsion of using the same software suite in the Closed BIM is restrictive. First and foremost it requires all the project participants to be well-versed with particular BIM suites. Secondly, it can create obstacles if the project needs collaboration across borders, where different stakeholders in different regions may not use the same BIM suite. This does not mean that this approach is not preferred, as in many cases Closed BIM is preferred to reduce the problems of interoperability posed by different software solutions.

Closed BIM vs. Open BIM 

Open BIM

Open BIM surely wins the race here. Unlike Closed BIM, Open BIM is transparent thereby creating an open workflow and allowing project members to participate irrespective of the software they use. It provides enduring project data for use throughout the asset life-cycle and enables different software vendors to compete independently. Moreover, with closed BIM, data is stored in a native format that can only be accessed by the application which also implies that extracting models from different platforms is tedious. Due to its restrictive nature, there is no assurance that data and models are extracted with all the details correctly. On the other hand, in an Open BIM workflow, files can easily be exported in different formats without the loss of any quality or accuracy. 

Open BIM is the Future


Collaboration is driving the AEC industry and will continue to make pivotal differences. Soon technology and innovation marvels such as AR, VR, and AI will take the stage to drive AEC projects. In such a transformative environment, the simplistic and open-ended workflow of Open BIM systems will aid in achieving the impossible. Open BIM is thus an antidote to the restrictions caused by systems that lock workflows in single tools and suites.


In a Nutshell 


Open BIM is the market preference due to its following traits: 


The quicker access for importing or exporting information correctly that Open BIM facilitates can vitally help the execution of large global projects that require efficient collaboration across diverse design techniques, borders, and timezones. 

Enhanced Collaboration 

With open BIM standards, users can directly access products and information thereby letting them connect any application to the project, download data, and finish their corresponding parts in the comfort of the interface and software they are comfortable working with. This development is then uploaded in IFC file format making it accessible for everyone again in the interface and software the other stakeholders are comfortable with. This methodology is thus known to enhance and boost collaboration. 


An open BIM integrates real-time data and correspondence done by different systems and makes it easy for everyone to track the progress. This in a way helps the AEC professionals to deliver an optimized quality of work. Thus, ensuring greater accountability among their members. 


Studio Workshops:
Learn more about parametric and computational design from the variety of the studio workshops at the PAACADEMY

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