Rule-based compliance checking and generative design for building interiors using BIM


Building information modeling (BIM) has significantly transformed the building and construction industry. It integrates all the design and construction information in digital representations, allowing designers and architectures to visualize their designs in three-dimensional (3D) formats before the construction. BIM also helps design engineers to evaluate the building models against the building codes and rules to ensure compliance with relevant design and safety requirements. However, the building design rules and regulations are not written in computer interpretable languages. This makes checking the building models for possible design flow a separate task that is often expensive, tedious, time-consuming, and prone to errors. Therefore, automating the design evaluation of the building models is a promising solution and should be developed urgently.

To date, several domain-specific languages such as Visual Code Checking Language and BIM Rule Language have been developed to support the automation process by enabling the creation and execution of computer-readable design rules. However, none of the existing languages has been applied beyond the model-design evaluation nor are they widely used because they only accommodate a specific set of rules. The advanced methods for automated interior layout generation show that generative design requires repetitive and rule-based evaluation of the design models and processes. As such, domain-specific languages combined with model-checking procedures for encoding and evaluating the design rules on the design models can significantly improve not only the accuracy and cost-effectiveness of the overall design process but also the understandability of the design rules and regulations.

To this note, Christoph Sydora (PhD candidate) and Professor Eleni Stroulia from the University of Alberta developed a domain-specific language for automated design evaluation of the BIM models. The proposed language covers the domain of interior spaces to accommodate complex rules and logical expressions of different geometric properties and relations. It was used to automatically generate complex interior designs models that required compliance to a set of design rules expressed in this language. The feasibility of this method was validated using two generative-design case studies involving kitchen and living room layouts based on a set of design rules. Their work was recently published in the journal, Automation in Construction.

Results demonstrated that the machine-interpretable rules expeditated the evaluation process of the design manual compared to manual checking. This language permits the reuse of geometric properties and relations and implicit added objects, thus allowing for the creation of complex rules based on logic operations. This way, it can cover a broader range of possible design rules and regulations. Unlike previous rule languages, this language automatically placed interior furnishing in the building layouts to produce rule-compliant models. Notably, the feasibility of the rule-based method to automatically generate kitchen and living room layouts was successfully demonstrated in a software tool.

In summary, the authors reported a simple and extendable domain-specific language based on building design rules for automated evaluation of the compliance of BIM models to required design rules and guidelines. The rule language and model checking methodology complement the concepts put forward in the previous research by introducing an intuitive toolkit to create new rules and accommodate a wide range of possible rules. It was also developed in the context of BIM and BIM standards as a representative of the building model information. In a statement to Advances in Engineering, the authors explained the study will advance the application of BIM in the building and construction industry.

Rule-based compliance checking and generative design for building interiors using BIM - Advances in Engineering

About the author

Christoph Sydora is a Computing Scientist currently working as a PhD student under Dr. Eleni Stroulia at the University of Alberta. His research focuses on the intersection of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and software design, with an interest in automated rule compliance checking and automated design. Other areas he has worked on include building occupancy simulation and building visualization via Virtual and Augmented Reality. He is always looking for new methods aimed at streamlining the BIM process and increasing the accessibility of BIM to all building stakeholders.

About the author

Dr. Eleni Stroulia is a Professor in the Department of Computing Science, at the University of Alberta. From 2011-2016, she held the NSERC/AITF Industrial Research Chair on Service Systems Management, with IBM. Her research focuses on addressing industry-driven problems, adopting AI and machine-learning methods to improve or automate tasks. Her flagship project in the area of health care is the Smart Condo in which she investigates the use of technology to support people with chronic conditions live independently longer and to educate health-science students to provide better care for these clients. In 2011, the Smart-Condo team received the UofA Teaching Unit Award.

She has played leadership roles in the GRAND and AGE-WELL Networks of Centres of Excellence. in 2018 she received a McCalla professorship, and in 2019 she was recognized with a Killam Award for Excellence in Mentoring. She has supervised more than 60 graduate students and PDFs, who have gone forward to stellar academic and industrial careers. Since 2020, she is the Director of the University of Alberta’s AI4Society Signature Area.


Sydora, C., & Stroulia, E. (2020). Rule-based compliance checking and generative design for building interiors using BIMAutomation in Construction, 120, 103368.

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