Coding, Content and Customisation: The Future?

This week, we interview BILT Europe Speaker, Kristian Bursell from CADSwift. After more than a decade of BIM Management & Development Kristian has implemented and optimised BIM systems in a large number of Design firms across Australia. He has trained companies large and small in the basic and most complex levels of BIM software application. His main focus and strengths reside in the coding possibilities to improve the creation and quality of BIM content and has been scripting ARCHICAD GDL Objects for more than a decade as a main focus, becoming one of the foremost experts in ARCHICAD object libraries, internationally. His work has been utilized by companies in all continents (except Antarctica) and today we interview him on the future of coding, BIM content and why this type of customisation is important in our workflows.

  1. Who are you – tell us what you really do and help us to get to know you a little bit better (I.e. what got you excited last Wednesday?)

I’m a mathematician and coder, husband, and father of two boys. I am a recluse in a quiet coastal town where I focus on evolving BIM processes through intelligent content. Last Wednesday I begrudgingly left my safe-haven to present a user group with Cottee Parker Architects and & Assa Abloy Entrance Systems on the future of generic and product specific BIM objects. Obviously today, working alone in a small town does not isolate me from the big boys, plus I find it helps to clarify my purpose. I am a journeyman in the labyrinth of infinite possibilities 😉 at work and at play.

  1. What’s interesting to you outside of your work?

Bow Hunting and Surfing. They both require a deep awareness of the rhythms, moods and quirks of the natural world. A successful bow hunter must know the wind and how it moves in the terrain, the moon phase and position, hPa rising or falling, the rhythms and behaviors of the local flora & fauna, plus much more. I also love free range organic venison, harvested with dignity and respect. Its about taking responsibility for your footprint.

Through all of this I am intensely focused on the legacy I leave my children regarding their understanding of nature, their awareness of infinite possibilities, and their appreciation of peace and love and everyone’s right to it; bush or beach is where you will find us unravelling mysteries.

  1. What is interesting about what you do (what motivates you at both work and play)?

There is an epic battle occurring within BIM content involving all the usual villains and rare heroes. The current state of BIM objects (families in Revit terminology) is an abomination that flies in the face of digital evolution. This may seem like an extreme statement but if you could see the next paradigm shift you would appreciate my view. The construction supply chain is completely disconnected at the BIM object – supplier/specifier – point, and it has resulted in a massive handicap for an industry that is notoriously slow to evolve. No one is providing a suitable answer.

I have kept an eye on the conversation around this topic over the last decade or so and am disappointed it has barely evolved. During this period, about six years ago, I made a discovery that I knew would result in the next paradigm shift for BIM objects – and have since been biting my tongue. Its been frustrating and amusing, especially the debate between which is better “generic” or “product specific” content.

At both work and play my motivation is the same; to increase awareness and reach full potential with integrity. I live by the phrase: it is more exciting not knowing which bush the rabbit is hiding in than to act as if we know everything.

  1. Our theme this year is ‘Death of Disciplinary Silos and Birth of Integrated Industries’ – what does that mean to you? Is BIM and digitization breaking down old borders and hierarchies? Here is a link to the blog post if you have not read it (and would like to!):

It’s the key to the evolution of the industry. If we break it down to its irreducible residue we end up perceiving pieces of data and conduits for communication with that data. The greater the number, type, and location of data that we can connect, through intelligently established conduits, the more automated and intelligent responses we can achieve.

Silos are fear-based mechanisms for creating a monopoly, which obviously derails progression.

  1. Tell us a little about your session – what was the motivation behind it and why should delegates attend?

My session is motivated by the ability to establish conduits for responses to data stored in any location. We have a myriad of data encircling us from processes we have established in our projects, yet instead of tapping it we merely reference or completely ignore it.

We create elements that cannot be what we want them to be, because of time and ability constraints, so we provide reference data to explain the incompetent element. The (not so) hilarious tragedy is that so many are excited about the mechanisms for connecting a data reference, rather than having the data control the incompetent element.

My session will provide you with the coding techniques to establish content that responds to connected data, rather than just attaching data as an unintelligent reference.

  1. You have been developing a new method for creating Manufacturer content, what are the benefits that Manufacturers and users are going to gain from this development

I could write a book on the benefits to all parties involved, the user, the manufacturer, and the industry. For now, I will just mention a few critical aspects that all the other benefits stem from.

Firstly, the manufacturer no longer needs to create platform specific content (gsm, rfa, ifc, skp, dwg, dxf, 3DS etc.) but rather just data that describes the geometry in an extremely efficient manner. They can also create and control this data through a configurator, hence without the need of a BIM “expert”.

Secondly, the user gets access to the ultimate place holder component that can assume the geometry and metadata of any product in 3 clicks and as few seconds.

On top of this it takes only 5% of the time to create compared to traditional BIM objects, and the resulting “content” can be exploited by most platforms, including those in the manufacturing process.

  1. With computational design being a big thing now through tools like dynamo, rhino, grasshopper etc. What are the pros / cons of GDL compared to these other options?

I would say that GDL is as capable, if not more so, than these tools, but nowhere near as accessible, you must be an experience GDL coder to get the same benefits. I believe GDL will become more accessible to the average user over time.

GDL enables the creation of complex rules and behaviors for geometric components and assemblies. It is these behaviors within the BIM platform that automate deliverables and optimize the digital model.

Applying algorithms to achieve parametric geometries is something all the other mentioned platforms provide. GDL however, can do both the parametric geometries and the complex rules and behaviors, for both geometry and metadata. Plus, with GDL we don’t suffer from the “too much, too much” syndrome with regards to data; a single array parameter within a GDL object can hold up to 32,726 values and cycle through them in an instant.

  1. How much value do you think there is for ARCHICAD users to learn GDL?

I think it is of the utmost importance that every ARCHICAD office has some decent GDL skills. As I am sure every Revit office requires some Dynamo skills. However, it is not something every user requires; it is still for a specific type of dedicated user. In the future, when it is more accessible, in the vein of Dynamo and Rhino, you will wonder how we got along before.

  1. What do you enjoy most about BILT?

“I live in the woods alone, I need your company, baby, woods alone, need your company” (Bob Marley, Do It Twice). Truly though, I spend most of my time alone, head down and battling through mazes of my own algorithms trying to push for more out of BIM. Its like fighting beyond the frontline with no path back to the trenches and all communications cut. Going to BiLT is arriving at a designated safe house and finding all the other special agents have arrived at the same time. With no “Generals” to inhibit us the quality of the information transferred between these agents is mind boggling. The thing I enjoy the most about BiLT is the quality of information I receive, plus it’s nice to know there are others who are inspired to discover new potentials. Its not a lame geek-out on new technology, it’s an inspiring geek-out on evolving to greater outcomes.

  1. Have you ever been to Ljubljana? If yes, what tips do you have? If not, what are you looking forward to –  and maybe give us one thing you would like a tip on?

No, I haven’t but I have heard it is a beautiful part of the world. I like to know who shaped a place, not the architecture but the mindset. I do hear it is the “Green Capital” with an impressive population of trees; are there any really old ones? That would be a good twist to a tech conference, after all, isn’t all our effort to be more efficient so we can minimize the environmental atrocities of our industry.

Haven’t got your ticket yet? Register for BILT Europe

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