In many ways, BIM represents a foundational shift in many long-held givens of the AEC environment. BIM radically alters longstanding linear workflow norms and torpedoes contractual standards. BIM’s most basic functionality further solidifies a product-oriented approach to Architecture and hails the death the architectural drawing. Yet all this is not without cause; undoubtably BIM provides great leaps in design and construction efficiency, environmental performance, operating efficiency and numerous other sectors.

Architects have resisted and continue to resist BIM’s incursion. Ostensibly this is because the additional burden of BIM’s implementation and coordination is financially untenable under old fee structures, but it also eliminates the long cherished ideal of the master builder and unilateral creative freedom. Additionally, BIM’s assembly-of-component nature undercuts long held modernist values of abstract formalism (bordering on material homogeneity and ambivalence). Yet as Peggy Deamer notes, if embraced by and incorporated into the academy, BIM could provide new opportunities for creative expression (and when necessary, subversion). Without a doubt, BIM is here to stay.While at the moment its gains are only absolutely necessitated at one extreme of Indaba’s “Bigness,” BIM is trickling down to smaller and smaller projects. Following this research, architects’ and especially architecture students’ aversion BIM seem to me like aversions to gravity.

Like construction itself, the BIM workflow seems mostly circling around until the requisite tolerance is met. Yet, from an architecture student’s perspective, I can’t help but lament, at least a little, the reign of BIM. As practiced, BIM does seem to channel work into existing ruts. The path of least resistance is the available mullion or the furniture layout block you used on the last project, all in the name of efficiency.

Mock-ups sit at the threshold between architectural representation/visualization/documentation and architectural construction. Although it is a product of profession, the experimental and prototypical nature of the mock-up invites discourse to take part in the conversation, especially when mock-ups can serve to challenge conventions and standards. Like
a dress rehearsal, this unique act of building comes before the real act, presenting a fragment of the architectural whole, serving no other function than to question and validate itself in terms of feasibility. In addition, it is only until everyone (architects, clients, contractors) can come to an agreement with the outcomes of the mock-ups that full construction can commence. With their own drawing sets and budget allotted, full-scale mock-ups are architectural projects of their own, which can also breath an afterlife to reprogram the fully capable mock-up after it is no longer needed.

Yet, mock-ups are not only seen as architectural prototypes, but also as simulated environments, playing a huge part of other disciplines and professions (medical, entertainment) in efforts to test certain products and strategies as well as train professionals. Scale, materiality, function of mock-ups vary along this wide spectrum of disciplines and practices. Can mock-ups be a starting point to an architectural method that acknowledges and collaborates with the parallel disciplines at play?

— Jack Rodat, 2021; Min Keun Park 2021