Parametric Bridge

Today, I introduce you Louis-Marie Borione, one of my colleague and friend, to talk about his work with Grasshopper for civil engineering.

Hi everyone, I am a BIM Manager in a large infrastructure engineering company in France, and I thank BIM42 to give me the opportunity the present you my work on parametric Bridge.

I recently worked on a preliminary design for a bridge in the Middle East. When starting looking at conceptual design drawings I came with the impression that we would have to make a lot of hypothesis.


For example the height above ground at bridge ends is not dimensioned . The idea was to produce any kind of BIM model of this bridge therefore I first thought of using Rhinoceros and Grasshopper.

So I listed all of my hypothesis:


And I started building the wireframe model:


And the final model:


Then I had to produce cross sections, longitudinal sections and plan views. I tried to do it within Rhinoceros but the result wasn’t good enough. Additionally some cross beam had a different shape, and using Grasshopper it is difficult to customize some elements.

My next idea was to be able to transfer this model to Revit. After a quick tour on Google, I found the grasshopper plugin Hummingbird. Using Hummingbird plugin for Grasshopper you export geometry from Grasshopper to an Excel Spreadsheet and using Hummingbird plugin for Revit you import that Excel Spreadsheet.


At the end the process became quite complicated. When changing in input value in Grasshopper it took more 30 minutes to populate that changes to Revit.

I finally thought about using Dynamo to create directly a parametric model of the bridge within Revit. Unfortunately Dynamo is quite hard to use and I think it would make a great subject for a future post on BIM 42.

Thank you so much for this content, and I must say I totally agree with you about Dynamo, I should already have started to work with it.

BFC Reader

I was talking on my previous post about creating a report from a Open BIM Collaboration Format. This format can be exported from Tekla BIMSight.

I am using the Open BIM Collaboration Format on a daily basis for taking notes during coordination meetings. I am using Tekla BIMSight to create these notes, but any model review solution could do the trick, as long as you can export BCF files from it.

These notes are quite useful for addressing coordination problems, but cannot be seen outside a model.

After the proof of concept I presented to you on my last post, I finally took the time to build a packaged application in order to create a Microsoft Word document from a BCF report.

BCF Reader

Aside from minor technical problems, I was most concerned by the possibilities to edit the style of the report before creating it, and avoid the tedious task to clean it up in Word after.

I finally selected a solution mixing Word template and styles. All you have to do after selecting you BCF report is to load a Word template. The application will automatically retrieve all styles in it, and you will be able to select them for each part of your report.
These parts are described in the picture below, where every information embedded in the BCF note is written down on the report.


You can then save your report in a new word document.

The application can be downloaded here, under the MIT licence.

The entire source code is also available on Bitbucket, feel free to use it for your own project.