Most architects are generally familiar with the process of designing and constructing a building.
Whether you are a junior or senior architect, the concept is among the first fundamental lesson one learns. But considering the nature of the scope, it can take a while for architects to find and master their innovative styles.
And using BIM, is next level.
For Afif Fathullah, designing skill has always seemed to come naturally. Since the Terengganu native was a student at the Kolej Yayasan UEM (KYUEM), Afif had an innate mastery towards designing – 3D modeling and BIM in particular.
“In Sheffield when I was doing my bachelor’s degree, I took up the opportunity to polish my design and technical skills. I remember in my first year, I was probably the only person in the batch that used Sketchup 3D program to present my first ever project.” said the 31-year-old.
This passion was further echoed during his master’s, where he utilised his knowledge in 3D modeling to design a youth start-up centre. “I designed a youth startup centre incubator that focused on 3D design and 3D printing.
“The building itself was made out of manufactured 3D printed materials!” While the model which heavily employs 3D technology is not a foreign one in architecture, it is his mastery of it that has been setting him apart from his peers.
Moulding his way
For one, as a junior architect, Afif has managed to tap into his 3D expertise in multiple ways. From producing required permits and CD sets for WeWork in Seattle to coordinating the Veritas Design Group 300-bed project in Kemaman, he has realised better ways of working and outcomes for businesses and the built world.
WeWork Seattle. Photo credit: WeWork
In fact, these days, the former Veritas employee has been designing projects through his company, Bimologie. The company which was founded in 2021, facilitates the Building Information Modeling (BIM) model to holistically create and manage information for a built asset.
Using BIM to revolutionise architecture
Afif Fathullah, an architect uses BIM which is a digital system that revolutionises architecture by allowing architects, engineers, contractors, and owners to collaboratively create and manage building information throughout the entire project lifecycle, from design to construction to maintenance.
BIM incorporates three-dimensional (3D) modeling, scheduling, cost estimation, clash detection, and other tools to help stakeholders visualise and analyse the building before it is constructed, leading to better decision-making, fewer errors, and more efficient construction processes.
BIM’s ability to holistically manage building information has transformed the architecture industry by reducing construction waste, improving energy efficiency, and increasing overall project success.
“Majority of our clients are contractors who hire us to construct the building digitally first in software and run clash analysis – to identify problems and issues way before the actual construction on site.
“We use this software called Autodesk Revit to model the building first and then use Autodesk Navisworks to find the clashes between trades including architecture, structure, mechanical and electrical.”
According to him, the software can even detect a simple clash between the pipings and services within the structural elements of a building. These mistakes if not detected early can cause clients millions.
When asked about the company’s highlights thus far, Afif notes Bimologie’s work with healthcare institutions to be the most prominent one. “Hospital projects are the most challenging type of architecture as the services that run through the buildings are so complicated.
“So much so that the conventional way of doing things feels short. Thus, having the most complicated type of buildings in BIM as our niche is what sets us apart from our competitors. If we can deliver a full-blown sophisticated hospital project, we can deliver other types of projects – simple as that.”
But of course, Afif and Bimologie’s journey thus far has not always been smooth. Despite his excellence and experience in the field, the young architect struggles to keep Bimologie afloat at times. “We are bootstrapping with our own money and with the revenue from the projects to keep our staff payroll intact.
“Hence, the cashflow problem is our first biggest challenge right now. In fact, there have been times when we did not receive salaries as directors as we prioritised our staff’s salaries. 2022 is our only first full year where our revenue was in mid-six digits.”
Afif, therefore, has made it his mission this year to strive towards improving Bimologie’s profit margin through its ventures within the BIM industry.
Though 2023 is going to mark new beginnings for Bimologie, Afif ensures it will not be at the expense of his team. “We want to keep growing but at the same time, we want to make sure that growth does not equal exploiting our team’s work-life balance.
“We still intend to keep most of our staff-orientated policies including flexible working hours and deliverable-based KPI. We also want to make sure our staff’s mental health and well-being are maintained to prevent burnouts.”
As for his advice for youngsters and upcoming architects, he urges them to make proactivity their utmost priority. “Take up any opportunities in front of you by saying yes first and figuring out how to do it later.
“Chances are everyone else is as clueless as you are. But, of course, your judgement needs to be strong in order to pull it off! After all, people hate empty talkers.”