Sunday, December 11, 2022


I need to get back to these Volterra windows and build up a little mix & match library to go along with the doors I am currently working on.

Interesting questions. How best to provide the different permutations of open and partially open shutters. How important to represent the catches and stays? At what level of detail?

The medium term goal is to mock up some typical streetscapes. Not necessarily based on any specific street in Volterra. Maybe it's more intriguing to capture the essence of Volterra by improvising, inventing a street of my own.

For example : you don't demonstrate that you understand cubism by copying a cubist painting, instead you create an original work of your own devising.


This is the Revit door system I have been using and adapting for several years now. In recent weeks the focus has been on Heritage Doors : four from Porto and four from Volterra.

There are "types" for most of them, demonstrate how they flex, in response to different parameter values.

Today I have extracted the first level of nested elements. Doorsets can be either single or double. Currently one single and seven doubles. One of the doubles uses a non-rectangular door leaf, so it doesn't convert directly to a single without editing the panel geometry.

The other seven panel styles can be used interchangeably as single or double yielding 14 unique families (potentially)

But those Doorsets can also be matched up with six of the seven frame styles on display here. Multiply out to get 84 unique door families from the components in this collection.

Last week I started to use nested families for openings. Potential for hundreds of permutations just by exploring different opening styles.



This diagram was made (in a Revit drafting view) several years ago. I have released added the "opening" branch, for use in my private/ "open-sauce" heritage studies.

I like the term "open-sauce" because it invokes the spirit of the software movement while pointing towards something more physical and artistic: building trades, design, painting...

Three levels deep is manageable, especially if you don't change the parameters much once you have assembled the basic door family you want by swapping out nested components for ones in your library.

The library will build, step-by-step with each new project. The one we use in my day job is based almost exclusively on rectangular openings, and employs the ootb cut opening from the metric door template.

The nested opening family is helpful for my heritage studies because, back in the day, frames were fixed into reveals, with arches, or stone lintels above and shaped sills below. Walls are often quite thick and internal reveals probably splayed.

So I aim to develop a library of "opening components" for these conditions that can be used interchangeably.

Feel free to participate in this enterprise.



Two digital paintings of Volterra street scenes that I worked up after the reality capture workshop in 2018.

I do appreciate the lidar and photogrammetry technologies, but my own best contributions will always tend to lean towards the old-school processes involving hand-eye-brain coordination.

Great to finally return these sketches to the physical realm where they belong. Printed out and framed ready to hang on my wall along with the acrylic on canvas work.


Flashback to August 2019. A day spent visiting all six of Hawksmoor's London churches. Such a fascinating series. Points of similarity and difference. I had visited all of them before, but some only from outside.

What was it like to live in those six very different boroughs, three hundred years ago? St Mary Woolnoth, close to the Bank of England, in those days renting space at the Grocers Hall. A small church whose upper galleries have been ripped out.

The climax of the day was climbing the tower of St Anne's Limehouse with Rufus Frampton MSc MCIOB. Can we grasp how much the church bells meant to Londoners of all classes in those distant times?

Can you imagine the sight of that distinctive tower from the deck of a sailing ship drifting past Limehouse basin? The smells and sounds of the river in those days before the industrial revolution began to change everything.


Two more days from my visit to UK in the summer of 2018. I was on a mission to meet skilled artisans and visit churches... All inspired by the #bimpencil work on Notre Dame which had consumed most of my free time over the previous three months.

Two churches by John Soane. Second time to visit these and a chance to get past the exterior. Walworth is my favourite. Three young sculptors were gracious enough to show me their workshop and talk about stone carving.

Pitzhanger Manor was John Soane's country house, a short carriage ride from his Town House in Lincolns Inn Field. Restoration work recently completed so I enjoyed lunch at the restaurant and took a leisurely tour of the interior.

Soane was a self made man from a humble background with dreams of establishing a dynasty. He bought Pitzhanger at the height of that dream, transformed it much as he transformed the Bank of England, then lived through heartache as one son died and the other turned against him.

Those tragedies sent his beloved wife to an early grave but he soldiered on, neglecting Pitzhanger but pouring his energy into his passion for buildings and history.


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