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15 Aug 2016

LEGO Architecture meets BIM – Part 10: Free desktop model viewing


We have seen in previous posts specific views of the model. However one difference with a 2D approach is being able to share models with others so that they can view the model geometry and/or data without needing any authoring tools themselves.

There are lots and lots of viewers available. Some of these view native formats and others open formats. Some will view both native and open formats. Below we have shown the LEGO model in four free viewers which all support open formats (i.e. IFC).

Each of these tools have their own set of features and functions but all allow models to be viewed by non-technically minded people. Some of these tools do offer more than simply viewing and allow other functions to be carried out but this post focusses on the fact all these tools can be used as a viewer as a minimum.

All the tools shown here present the model geometry in a similar manner, however the data is often arranged in a slightly different manner.

Some of these are only available on certain platforms (PC or Mac), some work on both and some don’t rely on specific platforms and simply work in most web browsers. Some require downloads and the creation of an account to access. These factors may affect which viewer a user chooses for their own needs.

Free model viewing tools

Whilst there are many viewers available we have shown one from each of the four major industry vendors: A360 from Autodesk, View V8i from Bentley, Solibri Model Viewer from Nemetschek and Tekla BIMsight from Trimble. More viewers are available here.

Autodesk A360

Image: Autodesk A360 [Click to enlarge]

Bentley View V8i

Image: Bentley Viewer V8i [Click to enlarge]

Solibri Model Checker

Image: Solibri Model Viewer v9.6 [Click to enlarge]

Tekla BIMsight

Image: Tekla BIMsight 1.9.7 [Click to enlarge]

One little feature

The Autodesk A360 viewer allows models to be exploded. I have yet to find a real use for this on a real project but it’s quite nice on this LEGO model!

Autodesk A360 Explode

Image: Autodesk A360 [Click to enlarge]


Being able to share models with others is an important part of collaboration. Model viewers open up the information to those who previously may have only received PDF drawings and perhaps images from certain viewpoints.

As mentioned earlier many of these viewers offer more functionality than simply being able to view models but sharing models is an important first step to getting others comfortable with receiving and navigating around a model.

Rob Jackson, Associate Director, Bond Bryan Digital


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