Thursday, December 19, 2019


Fresh from my first adventure in Pumpkinland, I was full of confidence about what I could do with the Conceptual Massing tools (aka Point World)  I looked back over Zach’s own work in this field, and stumbled on a helix family.  What could I do with this?  This was before the component version of the stair tool had been released. I decided to make a parametric spiral stair.  It uses the divided surface feature plus a bit of jiggery pokery to keep the nested tread family horizontal.  I never would have enough self-belief to see this through if I hadn’t received that seal of approval from Zach. It’s a family that has had a little practical use, but not a lot.  Mostly it was another step along my journey of exploration.

But wait… maybe it would be useful for the Notre Dame spiral stairs.  There is some value in a free-standing family that is not wholly defined by two reference levels.  Something that you can copy up or down and adjust with a couple of parameters.  Worth a try.

So I wanted to apply the lofted profiles approach to Sanitary Fittings.  I have come at this problem from many different angles now.  Lofting isn’t going to be a panacea for every situation, but it can work well for some kinds of shape.  In this case I came up with quite an effective half-round basin with soft edges

Back to Ronchamp and I decided to start again from scratch, using a more controlled approach to the vertical walls at the back.  Then I created a topo-surface that allowed me to explore the relationship of the chapel on top of the hill to the village of Ronchamp itself, down in the valley.

Another exploration of stairs.  This time using the system tool.  I did a couple of exercises from my own imagination, then I thought of some historic cases that I might want to understand better.  Michelangelo’s entrance lobby to the Laurentian Library.  Sadly this was closed when I was in Florence a year or so ago.  It’s interesting for the shaping of the treads, and the way it splits into three separate runs below the half-landing level.  While I was at it I roughed out the walls of this fascinating space.

The final example is the theatre of Marcellus, an array of wedge-shaped stairs giving a quick insight to another historic building.  I ought to take a second look at some of those historical studies, maybe open them up for others to pick up where I left off.

So what about ramps?  What about curved and ramped bridges?  These are situations that have since been tackled with tools like Dynamo and Grasshopper.  My motivation here was simply to explore and extend the capabilities of the existing Revit toolset.

Around this time I bought a video camera and started recording myself playing music.  It's a bit scary how little use that piece of technology got before it was overtaken by the convenience of the smart phone.  But at the time it seemed like a big stride forward and I managed to post some three songs, complete with some editing trickery.  Sadly it was that extra editing chore which probably spelled the death of the experiment.  Keep it simple stupid.

Coincidence again.  From time to time my boss comes up with an interesting challenge "should I choose to accept it".  Often it’s a personal friend looking for help.  He has an idea in his mind to give to his friend but it needs to be tested and converted into a sketch proposal.  That’s my mission, and I it usually proves worthwhile for me as well as for the project.  By chance this one was perfect for the spiral stair family I had recently developed.  We tried a couple of configurations and thanks to Revit I was able to set up a nice sheet with plan, section and 3d view

Manufacturer content once more.  David Light had been commenting on the Boon Edam revolving door families, which are really quite detailed and complex.  Recent experience of trying to use these has been a bit frustrating for me.  I think I will develop a simpler generic version for future use.  In particular, I would prefer to use nested components that can be fitted either into a curtain panel family or into a wall hosted door family.  We always use the Rough Width and Height to schedule structural openings.  Curtain Panels are instance based.  Makes scheduling them with the other doors very difficult. 

Anyway the main topic of this post was rubber flooring.  Nora have an extensive library of Revit materials.  It’s a nice idea, when will you do a render that picks up that fine level of detail?  Anyway I talked through these an other issues just in case anybody was listening.  Too often manufacturers are persuaded into providing Revit content without participating in BIM processes themselves.  It’s the wrong way around in my view.  We collaborate with them.  Therefor it is useful to use BIM (of some kind) in that collaboration.  If they are using a digital tool, they will see the benefit and invest in incremental improvements.  Isn’t that a better strategy than just pestering them for freebies.

Around this time we had a design partner who was developing some very interesting proposals, often with complex geometries.  This was a competition entry developed using Sketchup.  I was asked if we could use Revit to generate the floor plates.  The challenge was how to convert surfaces into solids.  I tried to model this in the massing environment, but it was a struggle.  Learnt a lot though and generated some interesting images.

Someone alerted me to an additional feature (add edge) that I had overlooked.  (could have been Matt Jezyk)  I hoped this would be the answer to creating these spiky shapes that Sketchup handles so easily.  Didn’t quite do it.

Sanitary ware again and downloads from various sources.  The NZ ones are well made using native Revit tools.  The US content was much less consistent, even within a single manufacturer.  Towards the end of the post I showed off a simple generic family with size parameters.  The geometry is based on the kind of thing we used to draw as architects back in the old days.  Simple abstract shapes, pleasing to the eye, not meant to show every nook and cranny, just a placeholder that looks good on a nice clean sheet set and can be cross-referenced to the specification.  That’s my starting point now.  You can always substitute a proprietary item later on when the choices are firmly made.

An "all text" post about the imminent release of 2013.  Interesting to note that we had already begun skipping releases by then.  Mostly this is a function of the length of time an architectural project continues for.  I start to address the moaning that had begun even then about how Revit development seemed to have slowed down.  Don't see the point myself.  It's the best tool I have available to me for this kind of job so get on with it.  Ultimately the main constraint is my ability to come up with interesting ways to use it.

Yet another attempt at the spiky form.  Once again, it’s a learning experience and some interesting images to share, but ultimately not really achieving the goal.  I'm guessing that the best way to tackle this kind of challenge would be to learn Dynamo, but it's way beyond my abilities.  Not sure I will ever become a "coding guy" to be honest.

Quick Access Toolbar revisited.  All the different kinds of line!!!  I do wish that Revit could handle these with just two icons, one for 3d space and one for 2d, then the software implements the appropriate command based on whether you are in the project environment of family editor.  It doesn't seem efficient to have four icons on the QAT all the time, two of which will be greyed out, depending on the environment.

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