Monday, December 26, 2011


Truth be told Gaudi has always been my favourite architect.  As a teenager, this was a reaction to orthodoxy, much the same as my decision a few years later to abandon architecture and become a bricklayer.  But towards the end of my bricklaying period I made a pilgrimage to Barcelona and was much struck by the inherent practicality of his work.  Another decade passed, and I was back at University seeking to rejoin the profession I had abandoned.  The extract below is from an essay I wrote then at the age of 40.

The seats at the Guell Park are not a whimsical creation.  They are a highly integrated solution to a complex practical problem, right down to the little tiled domes at the rear of the seat that keep your backside  away from any vestiges of dampness lingering at the low point of the section.  To model them in Revit, you need a profile.  Some of you may not realise that you can drag a jpeg image into a family to use as a reference.  It has no other effect.  You can delete it later if you want, but it doesn't stop the profile from working.  In this case it's a snap I took with a cheap analogue camera in 1979. 

My first inclination was to sweep this profile along a spline as shown above, but further study showed that Gaudi's deck actually follows a very strict geometry.  I have used a 3.6m grid (estimated by scaling from Google Earth) There is an underlying octagonal theme, expressed in the column capitals, which sets up a strong diagonal. The path for the sweep is easily created by dividing the diagonal into quarters and then striking semicircles that meet at the quarter points.  So easy to construct with Revit's built-in drafting tools.  Hard to imagine that I struggled with Revit's 2D capabilities limiting when I first made the transition from Autocad.

Just a reminder that I am using Revit as an investigatory tool here.  More concerned with learning how the inner secrets of Park Guell than making a faithful replica.  So I'm setting aside the difficult problem of how to represent the infinite variety of the broken tile patterns.  You're going to have to accept the default blue mosaic that comes with Revit for now.  The next shot is a fine illustration of what I hate about RPCs (wonderful though they are in many ways)  Poor old Cynthia looks so fake and uncomfortable, unlike me as a youthful bricklayer in 1979.

I've talked about bringing jpegs into families.  For a task like this I line up photos with matching camera views on a sheet.  This often reveals shortcomings in the model and sometimes leads to unexpected discoveries.

Gaudi's free interpretation of a doric column has an octagonal abacus and 12 fluted shaft, with a round tiled base section.  After a while I realised that the columns around the edge taper towards the top, but inside they are all straight. For the moment, mine are all straight. Also, there are some missing columns. Not sure why yet.  So one day's work took me to the stage shown below.  Lots of shortcomings and quick cheats in there, but Working in Revit is a bit like sculpting out of a block of stone.  Rough it out first, get some crude families in there so you can start to visualise, then progressively refine and update.  Keep chipping away.

Couldn't resist one of my cheeky little combination renders to finish off.  Here are some clues: the walls with rounded tops are actually railings; Floor slab edges between the columns and the seats; wall hosted generic model to cut the voids out for the castellated wall top, red tiled wall sweep just below that.

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