This topic is a continuation of a closed thread: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?p=12301953
I would have imagined that at least a few people in the Open Source community would be interested in BIM.
To clarify: BIM stands for Building Information Modelling (like in the subject title). It is about more than creating a 3D model. Imagine Sketchup. Now imagine that every element in the model knows it's purpose (wall, roof, floor, window etc) and can tell you something about it's properties (volume, area, length). That's the I in BIM: the model can tell you that without having to do extra work, such as measuring and calculating. And those quantities adjust when you change the model.
Next to quantities there's also planning. You can make an animation of the building process. It can also be used for structural analysis. But one of the most effective purposes it to combine a few models from the project partners (typically an architect model, a structural model, and one for mep/hvac which is everything that has to do with heating, ventilation, plumbing etc) and look for differences or clashes. It streamlines the design process and ultimately results in a better building with less problems on site. A very cool application is the use of augmented reality, to view the building design (and even construction documents) on site.
While Autodesk and ArchiCAD offer the widest used solutions, Vico Office Suite (on vicosoftware.com) helps understand the subject best IMHO.
So why would this be interesting for the Open Source community? Basically because of the I in BIM (Information). The model generates information which needs to be processed into something everyone can use. One of the open standards is IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) which is a generic and portable format to recreate a 3D representation of the building that also contains much of the information generated by the design software. Other ways to communicate data between different design software include the use of XML or databases. You might imagine there are many ways to use BIM. There is not one 'right' way; everything is implemented made to order. And that's why I believe that the Open Source community has a lot to offer to create conceptual software or individual solutions. And I would be very interested in exchanging some thoughts with someone who's capable and willing to identify and close the many gaps that still exist. In my limited judgement, I think it might also be interesting for a developer to explore these open hierarchical standards such as IFC, COINS, IFD etc. Please drop me a line if you think the open source community has something to contribute to this topic.