As promised here is a little bit on the Revit families I’ve been creating for the 4B project in Nantes. I thought it interesting to showcase what I can do, and it’s also a great way of getting into Revit tutorials. I am currently working very closely with Revit and have formed a sort of attachment for the underdog in the BIM software’s, even if I feel it has an ace in the hole over competitors such as Archicad and Allplan.

So for starters all the families are custom made to fit the project. Obviously its not enough to just have a door anymore in this software. Primarily because i hate looking at the boring square doors and also because making families has become so easy, why not just do it straight away? You just KNOW that some numpty will ask for it sooner or later…

I will throw back to certain other comments made by the Autodesk team and mention that the families designed were in an advanced stage of the project. It is unwise to design complex families in study phases of any project.

Other important factor to take into account. If you are going to design a door or other construction families, do you not need to know how they work? What i mean to say is that only a person with construction knowledge can fully utilise the potential of creating custom families. You can be the most efficient 3D “modeler”, but a certain amount of construction knowledge is needed to be able to create exploitable elements (I’m going to get shit for that comment but well… FI).

I’m going to use my latest project as my reference in this post since it’s the project i was able to incorporate the highest amount of detail. Here you can visually see, custom made doors, that open from the outside (tunnel) but on top is a rigorous series of custom annotations for each element when entering the final production phases. In this instance, each door, window, floor, space etc. is populated with information about its fire resistance, its type, width/height, where it is situated in the project, various other parameters and its custom reference number for further cost analysis and descriptions. A lot of people (and i come across it all too often), generally just stick a text box and write these info manually. We’ve done it like that for years before, so there’s no harm eh. WELL, yes and no.

It may seem trivial in nature and i understand the argument but REVIT offers us a plethora of other tools once this is done properly. Once these parameters are incorporated i can then do custom searches in the project and thanks to the interoperability of the tool, i can make very quick changes to any of these parameters from an excel spreadsheet. A bit of Dynamo know how and i dont even need to open my project anymore. I can do everything from excel. How many times has information initially provided, changed during the project’s study phases? LOADS of times. It’s hard to explain how much more efficient you can be in you’re work ethic but it is genuinely astonishing.

This simple chart shows how we can tabulate all the doors in a project. you can change all the values in real time. Added bonus, once an object is selected in a chart, REVIT can then zoom in 3D to the aforementioned object and visual manipulations can be made without having to search laboriously every floor plan etc… And that’s just the basics! Every project at some point or another demands an administrative implication and this is done generally through numerous excel documents detailing every inch of the project.

Once the excel function is incorporated into the model, no need to re-transcribe every information twice. Everything is done automatically. You cut out a quadruple verification, hours spent checking for errors and this EVERY time major changes are made. It saves DAYS of work, that can be better used working the project itself! WIN, WIN.

As we well know, we architects hate making things easy for manufacturers and clients… But being able to properly model various elements allowed me to be able to calculate specific wall thicknesses and visual elements to better understand the project. High quality details are very important when dealing with promoters who think of surface value. The smallest M² can add thousands € of profit to a project. Its stuff like this that still gives me great pleasure in working this program. A happy client, is a happy architect! On top of that it looks the bomb!

Custom glass facades can be created and this is especially cool, when you tend to work on offices. Granted in autocad you can create blocks that can be modified instantaneously but a certain rigor is need as well! In REVIT, logistics is built into its core. no need to fuck about checking all you’re blocks etc… we’ve all done it eh; It’s 2 in the morning, you’re tired, you’ve been copying flippin blocks since yesterday and low and behold, you start making errors. Blocks are modified the wrong way, etc. I only recently learnt the full potential of the curtain wall tool and i simply LOVE it!

You could very easily argue that it is insane to go into this kind of detail in a REVIT project but in my less than humble oppinion, once you get the logistics out of the way, this tool is just the shit. The whole point is to be able to visualise problems before they occur on site. Here, custom glass railing was used on a hollow floor that had to be coherent with the curtain wall. It took some know how, but the end result was sent straight to the company with all the relevant details and a price could be fixed very quickly and with great detail.

Another example of a custom family for the technical rooftop and the enveloppe that hides all its ventilation and heating equipment. With help from a structural engineer, i was able to create a box that could have all its dimensions modified in real time and that answered to various constraints the fluids engineers gave us regularly. Change one space in the building, however insignificant and the thermal and cooling values change with it. Equipment must be reconfigured, etc. This allowed me to be able to give a real time “cost” estimate of the envelope every time there were changes. There were 15 altogether.

Mur rideau avec joints creux intégrés dans le montants verticaux. On peut notamment visualiser en 3D le rapport faux plancher/mur rideau pour mieux aiguiller des choix architecturaux.

Custom doors and elements incorporated into the project allow better design flexibility and as such, better visuals, without having to endlessly export each project into either sketchup or a rendering program. Revit has high quality rendering capabilities and when a client sees this kind of detail in a project, honest to god, he/she is generally bluffed and being able to visualise elements like this in a production phase, not only reinforces the architects design choices but also the clients reticence to custom elements. And if you can add a price value that can fluctuate with its dimensions… well you’ve won the game buddy.

I am genuinely, a big fan of the new numerical advances in the field of construction and i have to admit i have a very strong preference for REVIT. Being an autocad child the transition was a lot more fluid than other BIM softwares such as Archicad. I do have a fondness for the visual production advantages of Archicad but the rigor and interoperability of Revit means that its not just architects that can use it, CVC, elec, plumbing etc. They all have their own little world within this program (MEP) and as such building synthesis reaches a whole new level. At the end of the day, if you choose Archicad (just an example) you are opting for visually stimulating graphical elements that can add huge benefits in terms of representational value for customers and if you choose REVIT, you opt for a high level of communication between actors. On big projects, logistical added value is highly important and frankly i dont care who you are, the end word, is always MONEY. In my opinion REVIT offers a higher number of tools that can really calm a client in the amount of information and process integration that it offers.

Hopefully, i will find time to detail this post a bit more but in the mean time, thank you for reading and as they say in french, “et BIM!”

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