Rhino Connection to BIM?

There have been recently many requests from Architects colleagues and other professionals about how to connect a workflow based in Rhinoceros from Mcneel with a BIM platform. We have seen this demand growing in large architecture firms and multidisciplinary firms from the AEC industry. So what is going on? In this type of companies is very common that a group of designers or several design teams have to start to develop their work in a way that is compatible with a BIM workflow.  In other words, designers need to start facing BIM.
BIM is a workflow that is not famous for being designer-friendly. Seems that this methodology doesn’t provide to designers the flexibility of simple 3D workflows. And here is why we have been approached many professionals and colleagues from different countries. From Enzyme we claim that BIM it is a tool that not only is easy to use but it actually enhances the design. We prove this fact with our work, our projects and our design.
In this article I want to focus in the particular case of Rhinoceros. As most of you already know this software is a powerful tool for designers of many different professions including architecture, construction and AEC industry in general. The challenge happens when designers or professionals very advance in the use of this tool for their design need to adapt to the BIM requirements of colleagues working within the same company.


So how do we connect Rhino with BIM?

So how do we connect Rhino with BIM? We have explored several workflows in practice with great success. Here are the possible workflows we know:
1. Rhinoceros – Grasshopper – ARCHICAD (and afterwards to IFC or Revit).
This is the most optimal workflow we know to connect Rhino with a BIM platform: ARCHICAD. The connexion in between Grasshopper and ARCHICAD converts all geometries from Rhinoceros – Grasshopper in true native ARCHICAD BIM elements. So what we have as a result is a BIM model as if it was created in AC. This model can be 100% edit in AC afterwards. The most important fact is that we can input in all elements of the model all Information, Properties, Classifications, IFC rules, etc… Is the best combination of these two worlds.
Once the model is in AC as we all know we can export IFC files to collaborate in Open BIM with any other BIM platform such as Solibri, Revit, Tekla, All Plan, etc.. The IFC translation capabilities of AC are extremely powerful. The IFC model we can export can comply with all of the international and local standards and is supported also by Building Smart. In this sense, ARCHICAD is the door to connect Rhinoceros to all the rest BIM software. We have to understand that IFC are reference files for collaboration and coordination and are not meant to be editable.
Another particular option would be to use Plug-Ins to connect AC with other BIM tools such as Revit. In this case, BIM6x has developed a Plug-In that connects AC and Rvt files directly without the need to use IFC. here is a link to their website in case you are curious about this Plug-In.
2. Rhinoceros – ARCHICAD (and afterwards to IFC or Revit).
This option allows us to import Rhino models that without using Grasshopper and its GH-AC connexion with ARCHICAD. AC basically can open Rhino files. But we can also hotlink them as modules.  The advantage of this is that we can have a Rhino file linked to AC that can be updated as the file changes. Is a great way of having a Rhino model inside our BIM model always updated.
This workflow converts all Rhino geometries into AC GDL objects. If we open the Rhino file instead of linking it, we also can edit the GDL object adding Properties, Information, Classification, etc..
Compare to the previous option, we won’t have all the capabilities of editing the model in AC with this method. The GDL objects can be edited, yes. But it is not as flexible and practical as having a set of native AC elements such as slabs, walls, columns, etc.. Is a good way of complete and reference our Rhinoceros file in AC. Is quite light, can be updated and as I mentioned still we can control the information within these objects.

Once again we can later export the AC model to IFC. The GDL objects created with Rhino will be part of this IFC file and we can control this translation quite efficiently. Now we also can share this IFC with other BIM platforms.
In this case, using the same Plug-In from BIM6x we mentioned before the GDL objects will be translated into Families in Revit.
3. Rhinoceros (VisualARQ) – IFC
VisualARQ is a set of architectural tools for Rhinoceros that includes a built-in IFC import and export plug-in. It opens the possibility of converting all Rhinoceros geometries to IFC. The elements we model using the VisualARQ tools will be translated into elements that IFC recognises as constructive BIM elements such as walls, slabs, etc… We haven’t tested this workflow as the previous ones.
Here is a link to the VisualARQ website in case you want to know more about this workflow.
In the video below we also can see how this workflow works. In this particular case, how to export an IFC file and then open it with Revit.

Again this workflow allows us to use IFC as reference models for collaboration and coordination purposes. It is not meant to create editable BIM native models.
4. Rhinoceros (Geometry Gym) – IFC
Geometry Gym provides a good set of Open BIM solutions that allow data exchange between different software. They have a set of plug-ins for Revit, Navisworks and Rhinoceros among others. Once more just a reminder about the purpose of IFC which is not to create editable native BIM files. This workflow we haven’t tested either.
Click the link to know more about Geometry Gym and the open BIM possibilities they offer to the industry. The plug-ins are available to download for free in the website.
5. Rhinoceros (Rhynamo) – Revit
Rhynamo is an open source plugin for Dinamo that can bring the geometries from Rhino to Revit. It is developed by Proving Ground. In this particular workflow, we connect Rhinoceros with a particular BIM tool which in this case is Revit. You can click on the link to learn more about this workflow. As the previous solution, it is also free of charge to download.
Here is a video that explains the possibilities of this tool:

Since we haven’t tested this workflow we are not sure if it converts the Rhinoceros geometries in truly BIM entities as the connexion in between Grasshopper and ARCHICAD. But maybe any of you can test it and give us feedback!
As you can see there are many potential workflows for the purpose of connecting Rhinoceros with BIM. We believe that the possibility of connecting such a powerful design tool with the most efficient and smart workflow for the industry is crucial to achieve the best design and bring it to reality. That is why we invite you all to test the workflow that suits you the best and share your feedback with the rest of the users.
I would like to mention show special gratitude to two colleagues and friends that not only have inspired this article but also provided a great know how to explore these workflows due to their expertise and experience. They are Dalysio Moreno and David Delgado Vendrel.
David Delgado Vendrell, is an architect by ETSAV (Polytechnic University of Catalonia), and CEO of DDV Arquitectura, micro-architecture office, and BIM consultancy. He is a specialist in the use of the ARCHICAD platform, and his bet of methodological implementation in BIM is based on the use of open standards, also called openBIM.
He is an active member of the BIM User Group of Catalonia (GuBIMCat) and a partner of buildingSMART Spanish Chapter, to whom he also represents in the IUG (International User Group) of buildingSMART International. He also collaborates in the “We Build the Future” Commission of ITEC in Catalonia, in the representation of the CoAC, the national Architects Association.
He has co-authored the BIM classification system “GuBIMclass,” an initiative of GuBIMCat and Infrastructures de Catalunya.
He is a beta-tester of the ITEC TCQ2000 4D-5D software as an expert in ARCHICAD and interoperability between both platforms. He has developed beta-testing tasks also for Graphisoft’s BIMx tool and the Android system.
Dalysio Moreno’s career is founded on the application of BIM technology to the design process.
He graduated in 2000 from the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of São Paulo.has been working on the design of buildings, urban spaces, and infrastructure in Asia since 2010.
Since joining Farrells’ Hong Kong office as a BIM Architectural Designer he has been involved with the Singapore High-speed Rail Terminus project as well as the M+ Museum in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District.
He is passionate about Design and Technology and we also share with him the love for sailing and discovering other cultures!
We hope you enjoyed the article and please shoot any question, feedback or story that you want to share regarding the use of this great tools.
Thank you for reading us and see you very soon!