Sunday, June 10, 2012


Staying with the musical references.  Rolling Stones or Nat King Cole, take your pick.

One of the comments on my previous post was to suggest I should be using Civil 3D.  I don't have that option at present, but if I did, would that be the best way ?  I am dealing with a situation where we have buildings and alleyways cascading down a hillside like a mediterranean fishing village. 

The buildings are all in Revit.  As architects we need to have the whole thing in Revit to produce our drawings.  If the paths and roads are done in a different software won't it be a bit cumbersome sending things backwards and forwards via some intermediate file format ?  We may find out shortly, because I think the engineers will be using Civil 3D.  But we will be driving the design.  It's an upmarket resort, so we need to be in control of what it feels like to walk around the place.  I think we may be best off getting it 90% right in Revit before handing over to the engineers to do their engineering thing in proper civils software.

Seems to me an interesting metaphor for the whole architect-engineer relationship.  Can Revit work nicely with Civil 3D ? ... Can Architects work nicely with Engineers ?  Some Engineers seem to like working with Architects, getting into the design process, exploring solutions, trying to understand what the essential issues are.  Others just want to do it by the book ... as in "Finish your drawings, send them over, then we'll do our work"

In this case we had an engineer who saw the main entrance into a resort as "draw a straight line from A to B, calculate the gradient, cut holes in the mountain as necessary.  To us it was "How do you make this an arrival experience ?" plus "Can we tread lightly on the existing mountainside ?"

In Revit terms it was an interesting challenge.  We had a route in mind by now, but what would the slopes be and how gently could we tread in terms of cut and fill ?  This was easiest done with sloping pads.  The result was a bit diagrammatic but it was exactly what we needed to inform a design team discussion. 

Having achieved a tentative "maybe" from the engineers, the next step was to convey the arrival experience so as to really convince the client body that this is the way to go.  Which is where my previous methodology came into its own.  Fitting a smoothly curving road over the pads was easy with the in-place massing family I had already developed.  By changing the shape of the profile I could also simulate a fill slope where the road comes out of the ground by a metre or so.  I felt it was OK to leave the cut slopes vertical for present purposes.

I tried taking this whole thing into Showcase (via FBX) to make an interactive presentation.  It worked OK but I was struggling a bit with the interface.  The jury is still out on Showcase to be honest.  I see that other people have noticed that it eats RAM.  Really struggled when I first tried it out with a fairly large detailed model.  On the positive side, the graphics are certainly much better than Design Review.

But then I went back into Revit to make some adjustments and thought, "what about a walkthrough".
 Believe it or not, I haven't used the walkthrough tool in Revit for years.  Turns out that this was the ideal situation to reacquaint myself.  You just place a series of cameras in a plan view, go into 3d, switch to a side view with the view cube, pull the cameras up and down to follow the elevation of the road and you're done.  At the time I couldn't work out how to readjust the camera heights later on, but today I realised you just have to go to the options bar drop-down and choose path

The result was a fairly crude, low-res grainy video clip, ... all I needed at this stage to convey the arrival experience. 

So Civil 3D may be wonderful, but for the moment I am happy that my Revit hacks are doing the job for us and keeping the design process tight and integrated.  Comments welcome,

PS it's getting late and I've got the flu so I'm off home.  Maybe I'll get a chance to post the video clip tomorrow

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