Flux, the San Francisco-based spin-off from Google X with ambitions to transform digital design and construction, has given the world the next glimpse of its vision with the release of a set of BIM tool plug-ins.
On Monday, it released cloud-based software plug-ins that it says will allow data to be transferred “seamlessly” between Microsoft Excel, Revit/Dynamo and Rhino/Grasshopper.
Dynamo is an extension for Autodesk Revit that allows users to create bespoke rule-based design and data tools that don’t exist “out of the box”. Grasshopper is similarly an extension that allows users of Rhino CAD software to run complex geometrical modelling.
According to the Flux website, the start-up’s aim is to create the behind-the-scenes “plumbing” that allows BIM users to streamline workflows, avoid data conversion and concentrate on design.
It says: “Flux acts as [a web-based] interchange point for sharing project data such as the architectural program, schematic designs, analysis models, and material schedules. Flux plug-ins work with popular design software, such as Rhino/Grasshopper, Excel, and Revit/Dynamo, to automate data transfer to and from Flux.
“In contrast, most design software today relies on manual file transfer, data conversion, and data-merge, which are tedious and error-prone tasks.”
Flux has also recruited some “partner” organisations from the built environment sector: Arup, Gensler, US contractor Turner Construction and Surbana, a Singapore-based multi-disciplinary design and construction consultancy.
Early reaction to the release has generally been welcoming.
However, some Twitter users have perceived a gap between Flux’s stated ambition of rapidly accelerating design and construction to cope with global population growth, and the release of a web-based interchange that will accelerate processes for the relatively small number of design teams creating BIM models using Dynamo or Grasshopper.
Likewise, questions have been raised over the apparent lack of integration with Industry Foundation Classes and the openBIM movement.
In October 2014, Flux co-founder Jen Carlile featured in a video lecture at the KeenCon analytics convention that outlined Flux's ambitions in “intelligent” digital design, where a fully-engineered building would be automatically self-generated in response to the constraints of a particular site.
But it seems the sector will have to wait a while longer for that functionality to be released.