Introduction to BIMΒΆ

Building Information Modeling, or BIM, is a way of digitally describing our built environment to computers. Aspects of our built environment that can be described are:

  • Products, like walls, doors, and windows

  • Processes, like construction or maintenance tasks, and procedures

  • Resources, like labour, materials, and equipment

  • Controls, like permits, orders, costs, or calendar availability

  • Actors, like occupants, clients, architects, and liable parties

  • Groups, like systems, inventories, or zones

These objects may have lots of data and relationships. Examples of data might be classification systems, physical materials, associated documents, simulation results, and construction types. The data may be relevant to multiple disciplines, such as architecture, engineering, and construction.


BIM data is very different from a regular 3D model. In fact, geometry is optional, and most data is non-geometric. This means that it is not simply a 3D format that you can import or export from and expect meaningful results.

Industry Foundation Classes, or IFC, is an international standard for BIM. IFC is the most well-established open digital language for our built environment. Most software will be able to describe their BIM data using IFC. Most commonly, IFC models will be shared as a .ifc file.

For example, IFC will define a wall as an object that can have a name, construction type, and quantities. IFC will also describe that a wall that be associated with a location, like a building storey, or have an associated cost item in a schedule.

When you use IfcOpenShell, you will be able to view and create BIM objects and relationships using the IFC standard.