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Monday, 21 August 2017

Alternative Visualization Methods - Part 3

It has been a while since my last blog entry, but works happens, hey?

Creating interesting visualizations in Revit is a hobby of mine and this blog entry will form part of the Alternative Visualization Part 1 and Alternative Visualization Part 2 series. All of these posts focus on what Revit can natively do - Without using any other program, even Dynamo.

"There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle" - Deepak Chopra
The first example evolved from seeing how one can create a puzzle effect visualization to investigating what effects multiple callouts by sketch would have on project file performance. However, lets see how it was created first, before looking at the negatives, shall we?

A puzzle grid was created and callouts by sketch were added using the individual puzzle piece lines as placeholders for the callout boundaries.

Making use of wide detail lines added a bit more depth perception when all pieces were placed on a sheet. The completed image provides quite an interesting result.

The negatives to this method? First of all, it takes a loooong time to set this up. A callout by sketch does not have the functionality to create circles or arcs - Thus a rounding needs to be created by sketching many small straight line segments. Having many of these callouts by sketch drastically affects the projects performance as well.

"The sky takes on shades of orange during sunrise and sunset, the colour that gives you hope that the sun will set only to rise again" - Ram Charan

Can you create a visualization where only a specific area show in hidden lines, and everything else in colour? The short answer is yes.

We will yet again make use of a callout by sketch, but this time a masking region will come into play as well. With a few visibility edits, the border/boundary lines of the callout and masking region was hidden.

The callout view itself was changed to a hidden lines representation, and its boundary hidden as well.

And the end result?

"I love everything that's old - old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine" - Oliver Goldsmith
Paging through a friend's printed visualization portfolio I wanted to do the same in Revit. Partly due to the challenge and partly because we need to save some trees.

For this challenge all that was needed was a book family, and some decal images.

Selected 3d views were rendered and saved as image files, and cropped to simulate the image being printed over two pages. Aligning them together was less of a hassle than I initially thought.

However, a strange thing happened when I tried to RayTrace the view - It looked like Revit was cutting through my book.... It could be due to the curvature of the pages or it might be due to something obscure.

None the less, I created a test render of the same view with the latest Enscape version and I was more than just satisfied with the result!

Have a great week, folks!

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Creating Terraces in Revit

A level terrace site is often created in Revit using floors and walls. However, there is a better way to do this - After all, we would like to determine the cut and fill, don't we?

The image below depicts the finished terrain, complete with gabions. Let's see how we can achieve this result.

First of all, lets go through the basic setup of our topography. I love reference planes and therefore we need to create vertical and horizontal reference planes to guide us in the section of topography we want to work with. This site will step down 500mm every 1000mm.

You will notice however, that we cannot place toposurface points with different elevations exactly above, or below each other.

An easy fix for this is to move the lower or higher toposurface points with 0.8mm horizontally to create the terrace

 Creating and placing simple gabion families finishes the terrain off nicely.

Have a great week folks!

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Revision Numbering: Clearing the Confusion

Revisions per Sheet or Revisions per Project? That is the question.

There is a misconception with Revit's naming convention for revision numbering options. People often believe that if the revision numbering is set to Per Project, all sheets in the project will have the same revisions showing, irrespective if the revision is applicable to a specific sheet or not. This is not the case at all.

As illustrated by the images below: If the revision numbering is set to Per Sheet, when hiding a specific revision on a sheet, all other sequential revision numbers will change to follow one another. 

However, if the revision numbering is set to Per Project, the revision numbers will not change, thus all sheets will remain in the sequence it was issued with the correct revision numbers. 

Friday, 30 June 2017

All About BIM Event: What a great turnout!

Yesterday, Modena Design Centres - Cape Town hosted one of their quarterly events called All About BIM. The turnout at this event has exceeded all of our expectations and I would like to personally thank each and every delegate for setting aside some of their valuable time attending this event. I trust that you have learnt a lot, and that we have managed to invigorate your passion for design using Autodesk software.

Below are a few selected photos of the event, which I hope you will enjoy. Special thanks to my colleagues Arlene Whittaker, Mitchel Parsonage, Anria Erasmus, Gary Graham, our Director: Vincent Modena, Wian Wilson and the Modena Group Sales and Marketing Manager: Wendy Schoeman.

Have a great weekend folks!

Friday, 23 June 2017

Piping and Ducting in Basements

Gore Vidal once said: "Overcrowding in the cities is producing a collective madness in which irrational violence flourishes because man needs more space in which to be than the modern city allows."

The population growth in the world poses a huge challenge for designers. Basic psychology: The smaller a space gets, the more constrained, restricted one starts to feel. There are people who love apartment living in NYC. There are people, like me, who just wants to get out of the "concrete jungle". Each to their own, I guess. However, there are certain health risks that designers need to constantly keep in mind; as highlighted in this Atlantic post.

One of the most important considerations for "high-rise living" is fire protection. This has recently been highlighted by the Grenfell Fire - My sincerest condolences to the families and loved ones involved in this tragedy. Now, the topic of high-rise living safety factors are emotive and expansive to say the least; Something which I will leave to the experts.

This Revit Recess entry will focus on Fire Protection in Revit. Often when working on sloping basement levels and the like, one will see piping below on every upper level. This is due to the view range constraints. Now we know that the View Range property is a global change - Thus affecting every area on a floor plan. However: By making use of Plan Regions, this process becomes a lot easier.

Take this as an example: We have a sloping pipe travelling from level 1 to level 2. Adding a plan region to the area where the pipe segment passes through the 2nd level and modifying the view range does not show any change. This is due to the fact that we are working with one pipe segment.

By modifying the default coupling family to become 1mm in thickness, we can split the pipes where it passes through a level (Hint: Reference Planes are great!) By splitting the pipe in two segments, the pipe will behave as we expect it should, once we adjust the plan region's view range.

On level 1, changing the plan region's view range where it should actually only show piping on level 1 as per the image below solves the problem.

Happy? I am.

Have a great weekend folks!

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Missing Ribbon Icons?

"People often associate complexity with deeper meaning, when often after precious time has been lost, it is realized that simplicity is the key to everything" - Gary Hopkins

Wait... I'm sure there are icons missing! This was running through my mind yesterday while providing BIM services to a client. Long story short, I was explaining the process of converting an electrical wall-based family to an electrical face-based family when... BAM! The ribbon looked "off" - Some icons were not where the were supposed to be.

Shouldn't there be a Coordination Settings and Batch Copy icon in the Copy/Monitor contextual ribbon as well?

Some of you might have already found the simple solution based on the images above. The Systems tab panels for the Electrical Discipline was turned off in Revit's Options. Quick and easy fix!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Modena's All About BIM Event: Ramping up to AU South Africa

And so the excitement for Autodesk University South Africa starts! Modena Design Centres Cape Town will be hosting an event on the 29th of June: All About BIM at The River Club in Observatory, Cape Town. We have some great sessions is store for you, with some nice discounts on the ticket price for AU SA if you attend the event and register at the event.

If you would like to attend and have not received the invitation via email, feel free to send an email to, with the subject line: "REGISTRATION_All About BIM".

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, 3 June 2017

The Internet of Things: Accessibility or Major Threat?

"The Internet of Things (IoT) is the inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles (also referref to as "connected devices" and "smart devices"). buildings, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enable these objects to collect and exchange data" - Wikipedia

For those of us born in the 1980's and early 1990's (Otherwise known as Millenials or Generation Y), technology is no stranger. We were fortunate enough to experience most of the major technological introductions and advancements we today expect should be present everywhere we are. Timetoast provides quite an interesting timeline showing which major technologies were introduced from 1980 to 2013.

The idea of IOT seemed to have started in 1999, and snowballed into the multi-billion dollar industry we know today. Autodesk released a video a while ago, explaining their vision of improving the world through the use of their software solutions. There are thousands of visionaries out there asking those provocative questions like: "What's next?" and "How can I change things?" - The future is now, after all!

However, there is a darker side to the IOT as well, recently highlighted by the cyber attacks in the UK and Russia, among many other countries. A short history by The Telegraph of high profile hacks that took place the last few years is disturbing to say the least...

Interestingly enough, back in 2014 James van de Zande from HOK and All Things BIM, raised the issue of Hacking BIM. Similarly, John Lovell (A former US Army Ranger with his own Youtube channel) recently released a thought provoking interview with a white hat hacker (The good kind, a Warrior Poet). I would highly recommend watching this video, as the information provided fully ties into the possible threats of the IOT. 

Imagine one virus, one malware gaining access to all of our connected devices? How will this affect the BIM industry? I am certain that there are threats to the IOT. I am also certain that I can get into an accident every time I get in my car or walk across the road. This is the era we are living in. However, there are so many organisations fighting the black cap hackers every hour of the day. And to be honest, every month there is a newer, better, more efficient laptop, cellphone, or tablet which is released. Every month there is a newer, better, more efficient anti-virus software program or update released.

Our equipment enable us to do our work. If we maintain our equipment on a regular basis by updating to the latest service pack, hotfix or update release, we will decrease the chance of something going wrong. If you can regularly service your vehicle, regularly water your plants, regularly feed yourself... What is the excuse for not regularly maintaining your equipment? 

Monday, 29 May 2017

Scope Box Visibility Control

Using a Scope Box is a great way to control the crop regions of multiple views at the same time; Very similar to View Templates. This Revit Recess entry will delve into the pro's and con's of using this method.

The Scope Box command can be found from the View Tab > Create Panel.

Multiple scope boxes can be created to quickly indicate crop regions for certain rooms and/or areas. This can take place in view which has been created from a level: Floor Plan, Reflected Ceiling Plan, or Structural Plan.

But how do we control the visibility of these scope boxes in views which are unrelated to the area you would like to crop? Simply select the scope boxes you would like to hide in certain views, and have a look at the properties palette. In here we can Edit the views in which the scope boxes will show or be hidden.

By overriding the selected scope boxes' visibility state for selected views, you will notice within the tiled windows in the drawing area, we will be in full control of what we see. Happy? I am.

However: I do have a wish - Currently we have no other alternative to aligning scope box boundaries than to zoom in quite close and manually stretch or contract the scope box edge lines. Autodesk, please allow us to align scope box boundaries using the Align tool?

Friday, 19 May 2017

Cut Pattern Orientation

Every once in a while, I get requests for support from clients whose wall cut patterns are graphically shown as per the image below. Luckily, there is a quick and easy way to fix this.

The change one needs to make can be found in the wall's material cut pattern properties. Typically, the hatch pattern applied will have an Orientation in Host Layers setting of Align with Element.  

Once this is changed to Orient to View, the graphical display problem is solved.

Have a great weekend, folks! 

Monday, 15 May 2017

Infraworks > Navisworks > Revit = Master Site Planning

One of the Revit 2018 New Features which I am very excited about is the Navisworks Underlay one can now use in Revit. This Revit Recess entry will explain the steps required to have an Infraworks model brought into Revit to assist with your Master Site Planning.

Using the Infraworks Model Builder, an area in Cape Town's CBD was extracted.

To use this Infraworks file in Navisworks, we need to export the model to a FBX file format.

 The exported FBX file can now be appended to a new Navisworks Project.

Part of the New Features in Revit 2018 is that one can now Link a Coordination Model (Navisworks file) to your Revit project.

The Coordination Models window is very similar to your normal Manage Links command, so there shouldn't be any problems adjusting to this new feature.

The entire Infraworks model will now be linked to your Revit Project. Granted, the material mapping from Infraworks to Navisworks to Revit needs some improvements, and the Navisworks link is a static object (i.e. an in-editable block). However: Imagine if we can generate topography from this Navisworks link - Much like we can generate topography from CSV files and CAD Imports? That would be brilliant!