This is the second in a series of posts looking back over nine years of blogging.
An awards dinner, an honourable mention and I seem to remember getting rather drunk with on of the partners. Our submission for the BIM category was rather too complex and unconventional to be an outright winner. But the project was a tremendous learning experience for me, which is surely the greatest prize. Topography is another of those love-hate features in Revit. One day we will have a better solution, but you can actually do an awful lot with Revit topo, as I found on this project, it just takes time.
I had a young Australian friend in the office around this time. He was a design architect who was the value of starting early with Revit. Sadly he was a bit out of step with senior management and eventually he moved on. But for a while we had some great discussions and I tackled all kinds of challenges that he presented to me. In this post I showcased some renderings that he did in his spare time for a private client, all from Revit, some with the inbuilt render engine, others using the link to Max.
I picked up some tricks for processing Revit output in Photoshop quite early on via the internet, and over the years have tweaked and varied these processes in different ways. This post covers several useful techniques using real life examples from my day job. The most fundamental trick is to export a hidden line view and a render to the same width ( in pixels) and put them on different layers. Then you can use various blending and masking techniques to make the image resemble a hand-drawn perspective. This is another example of giving our minds just the right cues to jump to a useful conclusion. We are always favourably impressed with a well-drawn sketch from real life. It gives us a warm and fuzzy feeling, connects to works of art in the labyrinth of connected neurons within the cerebral cortex. Most of this is subconscious and all the more effective as a result.
If you can manipulate an image from the model in 5-10 minutes then it is really worth doing. If it takes much longer than that, then the pain of having to do it again when the model changes becomes too much to bear. That’s my rule of thumb.
Archicad. I played around with early versions before Revit even existed, and could easily have ended up a devoted user. But life took a different turn and I ended up in a Revit office. There was a seminar about this time that advertised itself as a BIM event. In the end it was exclusively about Archicad, although this wasn’t made at all clear in the blurb. No big deal, it was quite interesting, and I find the animosity thing between fan bases very boring. There are pros and cons. I have heard different opinions from believable sources. In the end I think it’s about what you can do with the software, most of all what IDEAS you have to share (design ideas, historical ideas, interpretations) Michelangelo was not defined by the quality of his chisels or his paint brushes. His technical skill was important, but much less significant that his vision. Can you express yourself with BIM? Do you have something to say?
Another interaction with a supplier at a CPD session. Stamped concrete is an interesting technology for quickly and cheaply mimicking natural materials with complex textures and variability. I tried to convey to this company rep how useful it would be if they learnt how to set up Revit materials for their wide range of finish options. She showed some interest but didn’t really pick up on it like I had hoped. One day.
This post is centred around my decision to share a bunch of furniture families. I’m a firm believer in open sharing of content. I had been to Uganda a little while before and wanted to use the post to express some broader thoughts about fair trade and the enormous variations in lifestyle and living standards between different global regions. I don’t believe in simplistic solutions or in blame culture/virtue signaling. I think we need to be honest and aware of reality. Do our best to interact positively with the world around us. Cherish the good things in the societies we inhabit. I feel privileged to have lived on three continents for over a decade each. Been a hell of a ride :)
Ceilings. Another bug-bear. How do you do coffers? There is a hack that allows you to smuggle system categories into family editor, but it’s a bit suspect. Would be nice if it loadable families could be assigned to a ceilings category. Anyway this is a family I developed around that time. Ceiling-hosted, cuts a hold and inserts a coffer, type in the width, length and height, specify the lighting cornice moulding profile. Haven’t used it in a while. Front of house has been handled by a separate sub-consultant on most of my recent jobs.
And here comes the pumpkin experience. This was another of those remarkable coincidences that keep cropping up in my life. I received a suggestion from a follower for a scalable profile for the doric columns in my “lunch with the gods” post. It was tour-de-force with formulae galore and using point world. A light bulb moment occurred, and I came up with my own solution, which just so happened to allow for the profile to turn itself “inside out”. A second light bulb popped up and told me that an inside out Doric Column was in fact a pumpkin. All this as Zach Kron was announcing his annual competition. A bit of fun which had produced some fascinating entries over the past 3 years.
Light bulb number 3 said to me “why don’t you do your competition entry as a series of live blog posts?” … a feat of reckless bravado that served as an incredible motivator for me as I ramped up the complexity of my submissions for 4 competitions in a row.
Now my “way we build” hat said “this is a perfect opportunity to model Adolf Loos entry for the Chicago Tribune competition, which took the form of a giant doric column. So that was the basis of my second post. Amazingly I have never gone back to develop this further. But it was a good exercise, using wall-by-face to convert a massing object into a real building. Along the way, I had already discovered what an astounding array of forms my parametric family was capable of producing if I added a parameter to swap out different profiles. This on top of using the same family for the whole building and the three storey columns framing the entrance.
Post 3 accepted the challenge of making the pumpkin version more organic. Allow a couple of the lobes to have a greater “bulge factor” and apply a textured material. Not bad. Render it up, add a bit of cinderella stuff in the background. Quite a story line developing here. Why did I add the 4 points of Le Corbusier?
Now once you have an organic thing going, there are all kinds of possibilities. It could be more of a gourd than a pumpkin or it could even be a mushroom. Suddenly we have switched from Cinderella to Alice in Wonderland. I was getting very interested in blurring the boundaries between BIM and fantasy, BIM and art. Pushing back against the “nerd” label I suppose.
I explored methods for making the pumpking hollow, and this led to even more metamorphoses. You could turn it into a 1970s lamp shade, or some kind of jellyfish, maybe even a lemon squeezer. Self-intersecting geometry even seemed possible without breaking the family.
My final post was a set of conclusions and reflections. What had I achieved? What were the limitations? How could it be made more user friendly. What were some of the potential applications of the ideas that I had explored? Then I cleaned up the different versions of the family, popped them into a project in an orderly manner and … submitted.
As an aside, this was an early example of my attempts to bring freehand sketching back into my work process. I think I drew these on paper and then coloured them up in photoshop, but I did by a funny little device called an inkling around that time also.
It was an incredible year for submissions. Marcello also tackled metamorphosis, but in a way that was more “Hammer Horror” than “Walt Disney” Phillip Chan designed a pumpkin-based apartment block. So I was thrilled to stand on the (virtual) podium alongside these two giants who have since become good friends.
That’s chapter 2 of my "blog story" folks and I'm feeling quite nostalgic. A year on from my very first post and a head bursting with ideas and motivation. Where to next?