IFC and Open Standards

As our final Interview before the conference next week, we decided to interview a person that is always trying to open people’s minds to solutions and make them really think. David Delgado Vendrell is an architect and BIM Consultant by trade, but is also a strong advocate of OpenBIM and IFC. He likes to push the boundaries both technically and mentally with his session at this year’s BILT Europe focusing on interoperability and collaboration in ARCHICAD.

  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 David Delgado Vendrell, an architect from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) and am CEO of DDV Arquitectura, a micro-architecture office and BIM consultancy located in Barcelona. I’m a specialist in the use of the ARCHICAD platform, and my knowledge of implementation in BIM is based on the use of open standards, also called openBIM.

My usual activity in my professional network is being proactive in the community as a board member of GuBIMCat (BIM user Group of Catalonia), and a member of the buildingSMART Spanish Chapter and the buildingSMART International User Group.

I think of myself as an excitement-seeker on my daily experiences, last Wednesday I gave a BIM workshop in the UPC School for a group of Peruvian technicians about Common Data Environment and BIM model review with cloud-based platforms. After that, I spent the afternoon focused on an intensive ARCHICAD BIM mentoring session for a client working on a public health building project. However, without a doubt, the best part was finishing the day relaxing with my family.


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

I am not used to making a clear distinction between what is inside or outside work. The main reason is that I have enjoyed as a kid, to be surrounded by so many talented people who are embracing the challenges in our industry. However, I would be lying if I didn’t mention that I enjoy trekking in the Catalan Pyrenees, stretching the body with some yoga or pilates sessions or, especially, just talking endlessly.


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

What I do stems from my tireless curiosity and the love for human communication, whether analogue or digital, especially the second one. I’m also obsessed with technological progress, and in love with proactive people. Thus, BIM collaboration arises as a perfect environment (people and technology) where such areas of interest may be developed. That’s what I saw in the openBIM approach, opening a path towards the understanding among parties, regardless of which tools are using to achieve their discipline requirements.


  1. Our theme this year is ‘Death of Disciplinary Silos and Birth of Integrated Industries’ – what does that mean to you? Are 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!): https://tinyurl.com/yceot9zp

Sooner or later, I think that digitization may hack the comfort zone where each of those silos is sheltered. However, the truth is that we still have to push with a strong bottom-up strategy to achieve such an objective. Every country has its cultural approach to this matter, and some of them, within the framework of their AEC industry, have more aligned companies to real collaborative practices than others. Therefore, an education based on collaboration focused especially on the human factor, and digitization as a mean altogether may arise as a glimmer of hope.


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

As mentioned above, we shouldn’t be concerned about which software our collaborators are using if we trust them as professionals, doing their best, with their own and proper tools, internal processes and work deliveries. However, we do need to establish a collaboration workflow that ensures such wishes. Here is when buildingSMART standards play its main role, especially if you use, as we do, a BIM authoring platform which is not the most widespread in our sector.

Whether you are an ARCHICAD user or not, it’s highly recommended to explore, step by step, how a BIM authoring platform, really IFC-aligned, manages the openBIM workflow with the different disciplines, especially between architecture and MEP sub-disciplines.

As background, we will use the concept of “models as a reference”, keeping intact the creator’s property while we are using them in our design workflow. We will explore how to communicate design changes in an openBIM workflow, whether they are graphical or, non-graphical data based. Moreover, all within a framework of information exchange in small practices and humble business structures, trying to demonstrate that openBIM approach is useful and it doesn’t become an obstacle or extra effort for collaboration, but also a warranty of quality in our production processes, despite those small-scale projects.


  1. When we talk about Archicad as a BIM platform, we immediately associate it with Architecture. Maybe the name does lead that way, and the majority of users are Architects but based on your experience next to the Archicad community, do you feel there is a growth in use by engineers and contractors?

We assume that the Graphisoft’s motto “Developed by architects for architects” may not be the best introduction to ease the adoption of this awesome BIM authoring tool by other disciplines and different stakeholders. Although we agree that it’s a highly specialised tool in architectural design, due to its more than 30 years of developing and close-customer feedback, we can face our design duty whether a stand-alone structural model or any of the different MEP sub-disciplines. It’s only a matter of willing, and not a lack of software features or capabilities, at all – quite the opposite. We can use the default tool strengths to model any of the disciplines in the building sector or even expand our modelling and information management capabilities using algorithmic definitions, such as we handle with Grasshopper-ARCHICAD live connection.

Despite our pride using and fostering this software, we do think that you should always use the tool which is the most suitable for your needs and, above all, based on a benchmarking study that is unfortunately rarely embraced. Therefore, we face the open standards again as the mean to our quality information exchange.


  1. As an Archicad user, what has been the main challenges in multiplatform and multidisciplinary collaboration?

The ARCHICAD market share is probably the main challenge we have to deal when you try to collaborate within an industry which is still not mature regarding open standards adoption, whether the lack of its knowledge, the lack of BIM standards in the country, or both of them.

Fortunately, ARCHICAD tools such as “Teamwork” enable us to collaborate with this world-spread users community in a user-friendly and also extremely efficient way.

However, we have to assume that also the low general knowledge about open standards, such as IFC, and the unawareness of the interoperability term become another challenge. Especially it may be a problem when you choose the best and most proper tool for your discipline needs and some of your network members even confuse the term BIM with some other BIM authoring brand.


  1. Do you feel IFC is already developed enough to ensure proper collaboration and are software companies committed to make this work?

I think the answer to the first question depends on two key points: on the one hand, which tools you are using, and on the other hand the applied (open?) BIM processes. The commitment also should come from the users, asking their software companies to implement the openBIM approach properly. While that request does not occur, the IFC development may keep on an unaligned development with the data requirements.  In our case, as we show on the presentation, ARCHICAD provides an IFC-alignment like few other BIM authoring platforms in the market. Even when you are handling the IFC model within ARCHICAD, you are learning its Schema, its hierarchy and so many other essential data structure due to its visual and user-friendly implementation.

It is also true that the most developed version of the Schema, IFC4 (2013), is not which the industry is currently using. IFC 2×3 TC1 was launched in 2007.


  1. You’re an advocate for openBIM and very knowledgeable on the use of open standards and exchange of nonproprietary data. Do you think IFC is reliable as a deliverable, considering it can be manually manipulated and changed?

When people are delivering a PDF file, I think they mainly don’t expect that who is receiving that information wants to manipulate or change it. If you know how to do that doesn’t mean that you need to do it. “Model as a reference” approach is underneath the model view definitions of the most used IFC Schema nowadays. As a standard, we should assume that it is always evolving and be aware of our industry requirements. That’s why concepts like Product Data Templates and buildingSMART Data Dictionary are pushing this open standard towards new horizons. Moreover, also as users, we need to delve further into these subjects if we want to rely on the standard.

The IFC reliability as a deliverable shouldn’t be considered separately from any of the multiple BIM uses and life-cycle phase data requirements. Otherwise, the user could ask IFC model a different role for which it was created. Here is when we need software with a high capability to handle IFC, its property sets and property value types, applying MVD or just setting up the creation of this “snapshot” that drives the data exchange properly.

Of course, many gaps need to be solved and that is why an uplifting community of openBIM users are pushing hard towards its evolving: let’s use it!


  1. What do you enjoy most about BILT?

As my first year attending and also speaking to this renowned conference, I think the most I expect is many different approaches and high-quality information you can receive due to the diversity of backgrounds and knowledge areas from all the speakers. I must admit that the single-software approach of this conference didn’t help me too much in the past. So, I am pleased with this new sensitivity towards the real interoperability, open standards and other software solutions.


  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

it will be my first time in this beautiful city, full of history. So, I’m excited to get lost in its city centre, the river and, especially the old architecture from the Roman period.

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