Re-constituting Precarity for the BIM-Architect

building information modelling programming Autodesk Revit codeworks computational site-writing


November 10, 2023


As architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) practices become broadly mediated by computational methods, this article considers the modes of precarity implied for the architect adopting BIM as a medium of modelling and design. Situating the computational apparatus as a prosthesis to the BIM-architect, the article outlines the degree of agency configured for operators of BIM applications while they utilize the structures and methods of software pre-programmed by the application’s original developers. Exploring the structures of Autodesk Revit’s database via the Application Programming Interface (API), the paper interrogates the rationale and logic of building encoded by the program through a reading of its operative code in textual form.
Situating an interplay between the Revit-architect and application, who programmes a building model while their intention and conceptualization is programmed in turn, the conditions of precarity installed for the Revit-architect as operator are considered as a result of their limited capacity to modify the programme’s operative methods. Drawing from a political history of technology to interrogate the distributed agency between the Revit-architect and technical apparatus, the article ultimately explores how the architect might adopt the phenomenal experience codified by the procedural operations of algorithms through alternative means. It concludes by drawing from autoethnographic practice and situated experiences at the site of the author’s studios, offering material from which to construct an alternative and differentiated notion of algorithm-aided modelling and design according to a nuanced attention to the depth of building.

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