The BIM Basics


With Lu Ke 

Lu ke 1

Scape Magazine sits down with SAOTA’s Lu Ke, to discuss the basics of Building

Information Modelling (BIM) with a special focus on landscape architecture. We

approached Lu Ke as he is well-versed within the industry, being a registered

landscape architect (SACLAP), urban designer (UDISA), and having obtained his

BTech in Architecture, as well as Interior Design. Currently, he is focusing on Business

Development in the Southeast Asia region for SAOTA.

With this wealth of knowledge here is some insight into BIM.

Q: Why should landscape architects migrate over to BIM?

Revit can generate the landform, landscape architecture can be based on it to do terrain analysis and generate sections on each slope in a very efficient way.

Otherwise, the Revit Sun study function is a very valuable tool for landscape architects to better understand different seasons, or during the day, the stages of illuminance of the sun. Landscape architecture can be based on it to make recommendations and select appropriate plants for the site.

Some landscape architects still prefer to use the traditional ways to do landscape planning and design, that’s because the design process methods are different, nothing right or wrong with it. Yet, the challenge is that when working in the multi-disciplinary team for a large-scale project, it is hard to bring information that is generated by the landscape architect into the integrated BIM model. In that case, landscape architects have to ask other professionals to do them a huge ‘favour’, to input the information on behalf of the landscape architect into the BIM model. This could potentially become an issue and slow down the design process.

Other than that, most large scale international and local firms all use BIM software, the interface is BIM Revit or similar, in most cases. Landscape architects without Revit skills could miss opportunities. When these large firms try to bring specialists to their teams, they prefer people who are good with BIM software to make sure they can all work on the same platform as a team. In another words, if landscape architects are good at BIM Revit, then there are more project-related opportunities, both locally and internationally.

Q: How has BIM enhanced your project collaborations?

When the project just begins, the landscape architect can use BIM Revit to generate the site topography and to do the site analysis, then draft a framework and identify sites- important landscape feature elements, such as trees, rocks and views on the BIM model, then collaborated work with the architect. Architects, from the BIM model, can better understand from a landscape architecture perspective, how they have interpreted the site and then work together with the landscape architect to plan roads, view channels and open spaces at the same time to find the best position for the building on the site. Today, this is the process of how landscape architects and architects work together.

Moving forward, landscape architects will work with architects on the same project at the same time. Landscape architects can better understand the microclimate around buildings and make suggestions to architects. When an architect is working on the BIM model, the architect can better respond to the surrounding landscape, thus making the design process a dynamic and interactive process. The BIM system is a visualised system, and the design team can work in a collaborative way and watch each detail.

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Q: We would imagine that BIM allows for more time spent on other elements of the business, making it easier and quicker for reworks and edits to plans- How true has this been for yourself? Do you use Revit BIM?

In the early stages, the BIM system will take some time to bring all the information into the system, and some models are still not so easy to build perfectly, however, once the BIM model system is established, things become quicker.

Today, there are many plug-in apps available, and they can seamlessly load to BIM Revit, for example, one of the most popular plug-in apps is called the ENVIRONMENT for Revit®, it is the quickest and easiest solution for landscape architects to build and shape the topography. This plug-in app can generate colour analysis slopes and elevations to the topography. Furthermore, the landscape architect can easily find relevant information from the BIM model, like how many different types of trees there are, groundcovers and different paving finishes, street furniture, etc.

SAOTA studio uses the Revit BIM system to design internal and external spaces, and then we use Lumion to visualise the concept.

Q: BIM as a whole, offers the advantage of improved cooperation between different departments, which allows for landscape architects to work together with civil engineers, architects, designers, etc. Tell us a little more about this improved coordination?

Well, from a landscape architect’s perspective, the Revit BIM system saved a lot of time. When working with civil engineers, the BIM model can allow the landscape architect to understand the civil engineer’s approach, and landscape architects can be based on that model as well and use the Revit design option function to propose different ideas both from an aesthetic perspective and from an ecological aspect (but still maintaining the civil engineer’s design as a foundation). Often with urban projects, we need to take into consideration the road, bridge, servitude, signage, lighting, sidewalk, etc. and when these elements are input into the BIM model, landscape architects can take into consideration these aspects visually and bring the “green layer”, street furniture, sculptures in appropriate positions and things of this nature.

Q: BIM models are packed with info about different object parameters for a successful simulation in the future, (e.g. A tree in the form of a BIM model would have a scientific name, root sizes, conditions and other information available within that model). How information ‘rich ‘are you finding the work through BIM?

Like I mentioned previously, for urban projects, if you bring all the relevant infrastructure information into the BIM model, then it could help to position trees easily and without interrupting underground services and traffic lights, traffic signs and all these important aspects. It especially helps landscape architects, who can visually make decisions about trees and blocking traffic signs or traffic lights. 

Otherwise, from a rural project perspective, root size does not really bother us too much, as long as the landscape architect specifies the right type of trees and plants these trees into the right position as per the design.

Q: Any other interesting new BIM developments we should know about?

At SAOTA’s studio, we often use virtual reality tools, Revit + LUX Walker software and then use virtual reality goggles. It’s totally futuristic, but architects, landscape architects and interior architects can stand in the virtual world to view the site and buildings in a 1:1 scale – it’s exciting. It means that architects and landscape architects can better understand the relationship between vegetations and buildings, and interior architects and landscape architects can also coordinate the design to make sure internal space can get better views. Hence using this virtual reality tool and Revit can help different design professionals and the client better understand the overall design.

To me this makes it an imperative tool, and one we should be exploring as an industry.

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Lu Ke

Business Development Advisor 




AODT Design Team (Corporate Office ) 

Location: Luanda, Angola

Greg Truen, Phillippe Fouché, Dani Reimers ,Victor Salzmann, Shannon Moon & Lu Ke (Landscape Architect & Designer)

LongCheer Yacht Club Design Team (Mixed use)

Location:ShenZhen, China
Phillippe Fouché, Stefan Antoni, Greg Truen, Dani Reimers, Lu Ke (Landscape Architect & Designer), Theo Gutter, Mike Wentworth and Henry Abosi

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