Sunday, October 1, 2017


I'm in Denmark, attending the BiLT conference.  (Revit, BIM, other related stuff)  I am leading one session, called "Planting Seeds".  It's about the Planting category in Revit and the seeds part implies that I am presenting exploratory work that will continue to grow and hopefully stimulate others to build on my ideas.  In the course of my preparations, I opened up some of my early Revit work.  I showed some of the blog-related stuff a couple of weeks ago.  This one is focused on my day job at GAJ Architects, Dubai.

The first version of Revit I ever had was 7.0 so I spend quite some time using the Accurender version of raytracing before Mental Ray was introduced with Revit 2009.  (We also got the swept blend, colour fills in Sections, sloping pads, shape editing floors ... heady days) Accurender had very interesting Planting objects.  They looked a bit wierd in shaded views, but they rendered as genuine 3d objects. If you look carfully at the palm trees in the image above you will see this.  We are looking up into the canopy of the nearby ones, but at a distance you get a side view.

They also had some interesting controls, like "Trim Height" which allowed you to have a tall canopy on a short trunk, or vice-versa.  My next image shows an early example of mixing rendered and shaded images using layers in Photoshop, blending and filtering the image to simulate more of a hand-drawn look.  This can be especially effective to convey the softness of landscape elements.  But of course the "partner in charge" wasn't always convinced that Revit could "do" client-friendly images, so at times we just printed out Revit views and had our pencil and paper guys trace over them. Don't knock it.  Apart from producing very effective images, some useful design ideas can emerge along the way.

For a while I experimented with "Impression" which was free software for processing CAD files.  You could take a hidden line camera view, export it to CAD and use impression to turn the lines into a pencil effect.  This was hard work compared to say Sketchup which gave you a similar effect live, at the click of a button.  But I gave it a go and lived in hope.

The introduction of Mental Ray was quite exciting.  This is one of my very early attempts to exploit its potential.  The way it represents building elements if much more convincing than Accurender.  The shadows are more subtle and realistic with light bouncing around from surface to surface.  But the trees have moved in the reverse direction.  They look flatter, less volumetric, which is probably why I downplayed them so much in these views.

Opening one of the files and viewing with Enscape3d, the planting families that I placed back in 2008 immediately convert into fully volumetric objects.  Some of the custom materials have got screwed up, but that's nothing to do with Enscape, just the fact that my laptop doesn't have the right images on the paths set up under Options/Rendering.  Now this image isn't quite as impressive as some of the others I've been showing, but I'm pretty sure that if I spent half a day gathering together and tweaking the various linked files that were created for this project, I could create a couple of dozen images that represent it far better than the ones we generated in 2008.

Villa Savoye is a project I built around the same time.  It was partly motivated by my own fascination with the history of architecture and building technology, but I also used it as the subject for several training sessions, most notably a brief attempt to teach basic Revit skills to the partners at GAJ.  The image here compares a "realistic" view to the same shot in Enscape (top)  This is informative.  The tree shapes are quite different, although they obviously represent the same species.  The effect in Enscape is much sparser. The trees don't fill out the background as they did in the original.  I think part of the problem may be that some of the families are just not getting picked up in Enscape.  Maybe I have some dodgy RPCs in there.

But generally speaking, the Enscape trees are impressive and fully 3d.  You can view them from above and they look great.  They cast realistic shadows even when the sun is coming from the side. (RPC trees are flat billboards, so shadows from the side are very thin.)  In a realistic view you don't actually get any shadows at all.  Again I am not trying to criticise RPC families.  They are incredibly useful, lightweight and versatile, plus you can do a lot with the free starter pack that comes with a Revit installation.

The final image is not mine, and it's not Revit.  It was produced by the same team at GAJ that did the hand drawn image earlier on, this time using Sketchup and Photoshop.  I was helping a guy working on the same project, but using Revit.  It was early concept design stage, and we really struggled to compete with the Sketchup team.  We were quite proud of the images we came up with, but the partners thought they were awful.  I'm sure many of you have had similar experiences.  Plugins like Enscape3d definitely go a long way towards closing that gap, especially if you have the versatility and imagination to do a bit of mix and match with blended and processed images. 

I will be sharing some of the families from my session at Aarhus in coming weeks, so stay tuned.

Saturday, September 23, 2017


It's always interesting to turn the clock back half a dozen years.  How crap were my Revit skills in 2008?  I was quite proud of myself of course, but it's revealing to open a file that's been lying dormant since then.  One such project is the William Morris's house in Bexley Heath ... the famous Red House designed by Phillip Web.

I didn't get very far with it really, just the bare outlines of the shell, and I haven't taken it much further this weekend.  The idea was to open a bunch of old files in Enscape and see how quickly I could generate some interesting images.  It's a continuation of what I started last weekend.  Part of the motivation is to try out some of the planting families I have been working up for my presentation in Arhus.  Put them through their paces.

So I just threw a whole bunch of trees on the site, made a couple of small tweaks to the roof and fired up Enscape3d.  This gives you a pretty decent render quality in a live window, with some useful settings sliders to help you find a suitable ambience for the image in question.  Then you can take screenshopts, or export panoramas if you like.  In practice I can generate useable images in less that a quarter of a time it would have taken using Revit's internal render engine.

In this case I'm not using RPC trees so Enscape is not substituting them with its own 3 dimenionsal versions.  Instead I have families that incorporate 3d CAD mesh geometry, picked up here and there on my travels.  These come out surprisingly well in Enscape and as a bonus I can export black and white images with sketchy outlines to merge with shaded views to create images that match the Enscape renders.  That wouldn't really work with RPC content.

These families have some other tricks up their sleeves with I will explain in my session and post here soon after.  Embedded plan symbols, instance scaling etc.  I was quite impressed by the shadows that some of them cast.  I'm not trying to do away with RPC trees.  I think they are great (That's why I took the time to make my own customised versions).  But it's also good to have other options up your sleeve.

Another project that's been lying dormant for many years is the Tunendhat house by Mies van der Rohe, featuring his famous "cross-section" columns.  I guess this is one of the very first houses to feature a wall of glass occupying the entire length of an open-plan living space.  Actually this one was motorised and retracted into the basement when the weather was suitable.  The house was built on a steep slope, so the view would have been quite spectacular.  Still is I imagine.  I really must find the time to push these two research projects further.  What an incredibly contrast in design approach.

In 2013 I attempted something rather ambitious for the RTC in Auckland.  I took 3 memorable 20th century office developments, modelled them in Revit and used those the models to present a comparative analysis, attempting to set each within its social and political context.  I had a mixed response, ranging from intense enthusiasm to total bewilderment.  It was an immensely rewarding project for my personally on so many levels.  One of the buildings was Lever House in New York.  This model was developed in some detail, but I haven't done much with it since 2013.  Comes out nicely in Enscape though.  I've done a bit of post-processing here, just for fun

I showed some images of Casa del Fascio, not long ago.  So I won't show that again here.  But the third office was the Gherkin, which I did develop further for a while, trying to turn it into a tutorial for architecture students who wanted to build the model for themselves.  That was also lots of fun, but after three lengthy posts I ran out of steam.  The model as it stands is a bit like a semi-peeled onion, revealing the underlying structure.  My intention, in all this work is educational: to use BIM as a tool for understanding our built history.  So it's not always necessary to create a complete replica of the original.  It's all about the thought processes that kick in while you are modelling.   Learning by doing.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


In finalising my preparations for the BiLT Europe conference coming up in Denmark shortly, I opened up some of my old projects with Enscape3d active and saved a few screenshots.  It's amazing what you can do in just half an hour with almost no editing at all, just selecting viewpoints and sliding the shadow angle around to different times of day.

There are other controls of course and I made some use of the white mode and the black outlines slider.  Depth of field has some potential but I couldn't get it to do anything particularly interesting in this case.

The model is le Corbusier's famous chapel at the top of a hill of course.  The roof is a hollow ferro-cement shell, inspired by aircraft wing construction techniques.  There are blog posts from several years ago that go into these issues in a bit more depth, but I have never really got around to taking this work to a reasonable conclusion. 

I do have a plan to follow up my Project Soane website with something more general which features analysis of a wide variety of buildings in the context of the societies that gave birth to them.  It will be called "The Way We Build" and it's a project that's been at the back of my mind for at least 20 years.  I thought it was going to be a book, but that never happened.  A website is easier to start up in a small way and gradually enhance so let's hope I can find the time and energy to do it well.
I am open to collaboration of course.  It would be wonderful if students of building /architecture /history, the old and the young, could work together to create an open resource of models and analytical diagrams, available over the internet. 

I think this is one of the great missed opportunities of BIM: using the technology for education and research.  There are lots of courses ABOUT BIM, but far too little use of BIM to actually DO education and research.  Why aren't students and teachers of architecture bowled over by the incredible power of the BIM pencil to reveal how buildings work?

By the way, that last image shows the village church at the bottom of the hill in relation to the chapel of "Our Lady up top" Not the kind of image you normally expect to get from Revit (sadly) but as an architect, and a student of the history of buildings I do like to use my favourite "drawing tool" to convey these kinds of relationship.  Ultimately it becomes boring to talk about technique all the time instead of just using BIM software as if it was a pencil, in a natural, uncomplicated way to explore and express ideas.

So this is just a tribute to Enscape3d, and another thankyou to the guys for letting me use it for educational purposes, plus a bit of a teaser for what I am planning to do, moving forward.  I have modelled lots of interesting buildings over the past few years: Robey House, bits and pieces of Gaudi, Casa del Fascio, the Gherkin, Lever House, Newari houses of Kathmandu, Temple of Poseidon, Pantheon, Borromini, Soane of course, Hawksmoor churches, Palladio (the last 2 as urban design studies)  I will try to generate some more Enscape images from these models and share them here.

Maybe you will get inspired to join my mission.

Sunday, August 13, 2017


I'm going to begin this post the way I finished the last one.  We have set up a new website for the continuation of the work begun during the Project Soane competition.  Please take a look, and seriously consider the validity of using BIM tools and processes outside the normal "commercial" or "day-job" context.

Another weekend has flown by and I didn't achieve half the things I wanted to, but I did at least begin to prepare for the BiLT Europe conference in Aarhus at the beginning of October. I'm doing a presentation on creative use of the "Planting" category in Revit.  This will cover both actual trees or shrubs, and other types of object that don't really belong to that category but can make use of the peculiar capabilities of double-nested planting objects.  For example, these are railings.

You might notice that the second one from the top is a double-sized version of the ones immediately above and below it.  This is achieved by nesting a planting category family within the baluster component.  These are not intended to be actual railings either.  They are inspired by Project Soane and represent the carved decoration on masonry friezes.  Railings are very useful for quickly creating these kinds of repeating motifs of course they go around curved corners quite nicely.  Here's a couple of images of the kind of thing we are talking about.

I've also been reviewing my "lollipop" tree family, cleaning it up and making the parameters a bit more user-friendly.  It's intended for use in large-scale contexts: Urban Design studies and the like where you want to keep things fairly abstract but just represent the idea of a row of trees or a small public park.  These are all types within a single family, so it's super lightweight.  I also added a choice of plan symbols that you can choose from, and set these up to scale correctly to give a realistic impression of the canopy diameter.

That's one of the well-known issues with the out-of-the-box planting families.  The plan symbols don't adjust properly so a tall-thin tree will have a symbol that's too large, and a short fat one with look too small in plan.  I came up with a solution for that a few years ago and shared the family, which has been one of my most popular downloads.  But at the time I only did the deciduous RPC tree family.  What I've been preparing for October is to cover all of the free RPC content, and to show people who attend my session how to easily adapt the family to incorporate any RPC content you might have acquired from Archvision.

I spent a bit of time revisiting my collection of plan symbols.  This goes back more than 20 years, to a library of CAD blocks I built up when I was in Zimbabwe.  That brought back some memories.  Days when my children were still at school.  I guess I started using CAD before the youngest even started primary school.  And now I have a grandson about to start school in England.  For those of you out there who also have kids: cherish those days when they are getting on your nerves, it will all seem magical looking back 20 years from now.

One tip I plan to share involves using family files as a working area to store various bits of content you intend to use when making a whole bunch of families.  In this case it's CAD content waiting to be traced over or exploded or whatever then pasted into new families as symbolic lines in the planting category. 

And finally I have a few tree families that I attempted over the years based on different approaches.  For example There are some that look a bit more like the bunch of model lines we used to have show up in shaded views back in the days when Revit used Acurender.  There might be times when you want something more like this to show up in a shaded view perhaps.  The abstract/stylised thing again.

And that's it for another short, long weekend.  Day job beckons in the morning.  Hope to see some of you in Aarhus a few weeks from now.

Sunday, August 6, 2017


There's always been a bit of an anti-competitive streak in my make up.  As a young boy I always dressed up as a "red indian" rather than a cowboy.  I also refused to eat meat ... just didn't like the taste and texture, still don't.  Maybe I'm just a bit of a wimp.  But at school there was always the end of term thing where all the results got totted up, and there would be half a dozen of us vying for the "top of the class" spot. We would be keeping track of the scores as they came out and working out how we were doing, kind of like a league table thing.  But I did lose interest in the academic success thing towards the end of school and then at university turned into a positive rebel, and some kind of drop-out.

Anyway, it's six years since I started this blog, and for much of that time I have been excited by the steadily climbing numbers and the contact with people all around the world that ensued.  Well it so happens that since the last time I looked Google is reporting 1 million page views for my blog, which is kind of nice but not exactly earth-shattering.  At the same time the numbers of hits have dropped off a bit over the past year and to be honest, my hunger for keeping the posts going has dropped a little, partly because the whole Project Soane thing has absorbed a lot of my energy.  It's not always easy to take the time off to convert the modelling work into an interesting post, and there's so much still to do on the models.

Looking at my stats, There is a dramatic peak about a year ago.  Don't really understand that.  Tend to think it must be an artefact of the way the stats are calculated by some algorithm or other.  But it's clear that they have dwindled back to their former level now.  I think that can be linked to not posting regularly enough. But then, "does it really matter?"  Maybe this blog isn't going to be my main focus going forward, who knows.  Maybe it can just tick over with a couple of posts every month and a more or less static following.

Looking at stats for the past month, they definitely show a spike straight after my last post.  So my frustration at not finishing off posts to keep stoking the fire seems justified.  But when you look at the posts that actually get hits, that post is half-way down the list.  All the rest are 4 or 5 years old.  Looks a bit like the law of diminishing returns.

While I'm reviewing my analytics, what about the comments?  Well people do sometimes say nice things, which is great.  And people ask for help, which I'm usually very slow in responding to.  And I still get spam on a fairly regular basis, presumably from very clever robots, or maybe human-assisted robots of some kind. But that's seven comments in the past two months.  Which is fine, because I really don't have it in me to spend a couple of hours a week dealing with my comments stream.  So probably we are looking at a blog that ticks over for however many years I want to keep it going. 

I know that from time to time someone discovers my blog and gets very excited working through my past posts.  I know quite a few people have this mental note in their brains to find the time to read back through my blog more thoroughly, cos they keep finding little gems.  I go back over it myself from time to time, and I am really proud of what I've produced over the past 6 years, so I do want to keep the blog active and to encourage the idea of open sharing.  But rising to new heights? Exponential growth? Making a living out of my BlogSpot persona? maybe not.

SO ... what's new?  Well I've been working on an idea that crystallised while I was in the UK talking to people from the two museums.  Which is a website focused on Project Soane.  The competition websites were temporary, and the A360 space is really targeted at active Revit modellers.  Project Soane needs to reach out to the general public, the kind of people who visit the Soane Museum, or the Bank of England Museum, or Dulwich Picture Gallery.  We have a lot of stuff now that could be usefully shared on line with the average museum visitor, or someone who might be a walk around looking at old buildings, and buy the occasional book.

I chose WordPress this time, just to see how different it is.  Well, partly because WordPress sites tend to look a bit sexier, and when I explored, I found templates that were less blog-like.   So the basics are up there, and it will continue to grow.  I'll be interested to know what people think.  There will be some reference to BIM, but not much that is specifically Revit.  Lots of images generated from Revit models of course, but the focus will be on sharing ideas about Soane's work and the social context within which it arose.  I want to focus less on talking about BIM tools and processes themselves, more on just using them to think about our built heritage.

I've enjoyed setting up the website and learning a tiny bit more about formatting pages with HTML.  Nothing clever, just following step-by-step instructions to create "grid" pages that show a picture and link through to the next level.  I've also had to come up with a naming convention for the images so it will be easier to replace them with newer versions as the models progress.

There are two phrases that I have been using for a while now:  "the BIM pencil" and "the Way We Build".  They both reflect a belief that the history of our buildings and cities is an important research field, a doorway to understanding ourselves.  The way we build tells us a lot about who we are.  It refers to evolving architectural styles, functional aspects of city form, building techniques and materials.  The BIM pencil implies using digital tools for hands-on research into the way we build.  So that's what the Project Soane website is all about.  Tale a look for yourself.

Sunday, July 30, 2017


Extracts from a Slack conversation with my Project Soane collaborators:


If Soane could build a tower I wonder what it would be like?

Yes, I've sometimes wondered about that. I thought of trying to redesign Bakers bank in the style of Soane, and preserving more of Soanes original work.

Then I thought about doing it so that it could expand vertically, ie more like Soanes bank which is an accumulation of disparate parts welded together, like a medieval city that evolved over time.

Could you imagine his style gradually evolving, keeping pace with the modern world (which he always tried to do) becoming more abstract and simplified
The projecting front of his own house was originally open balconies, almost like an exposed concrete frame

Also there is a scheme for a double storey conservatory at the back of Pitzhanger Manor that looks almost modernist
But would he have been able to abandon ornament completely and still stay true to himself? How would he have avoided the awful pastiche of so much Post Modernism?

I like to imagine something a bit like Casa del Fascio, an expressed concrete frame rising out from a seven storey block, similar to Bakers in massing but elevated in extremely austere Soane mode, and a base that is essentially Soanes original screen wall
Not sure if it's possible but I think he would have tried, if he had lived to be 200!!!
Like Soane, Terragni saw himself as expressing the spirit of Ancient Rome in a modern setting, using modern materials. Would Soane have designed a bit like this if he had been working in 1935? It has the complexity and the layering, the top lighting and manipulation of space, ambiguity ..

Interior space, surprising shafts of light from above. Was Terragni aware of Soane? Not as far as I know, but there are interesting parallels ... much more than I had realised (before today).  The images are from a model of Casa del Fascio that I built several years ago.  Amazing how it comes to life when viewed using Enscape 3d.

The glass blocks are too transparent in Enscape, but I just saw the parallel between the way Soane connects rooms together in his own house, with openings above eye leve, over bookcases etc, and the way Terragni puts glass blocks above door head height to let light diffuse between the perimeter offices and the atrium.

Maybe we could make a movie. Soane frozen in a secret compartment of the basement at Lincoln's Inn Fields, brought back to life by a mad Scientist in 1925, appointed to rebuild the Bank and leaves behind plans for a further vertical expansion which is built in 2025


So, I finally got around to turning this little Slack conversation into a Blog Post.  I had already made a massing model of Baker's 1930s rebuild of the Bank. It's pretty much a solid block rising from within the simplified remnants of Soane's screen wall. (this is the Bank as it exists today)

As Daniel Abrahamson has pointed out, Baker tried to preserve something from the work of the previous architects of the Bank (Soane, Taylor, Sampson) but for his entirely new central block, opted to reference Christopher Wren's very popular brand of classicism, which is seen in the popular imagination as quintessentially English.  He deliberately turned away from what he perceived as Soane's dry, esoteric, approach towards something more populist.  And he argued that Soane didn't treat Taylor's work with much respect, so why would he be totally reverential to Soane? 

I think that was a valid argument at the time. It wouldn't stand up in today's "heritage-conscious" world. There would surely be a more vigorous attempt to retain more of what remained of all three architect's work, and not just by incorporating "tributes" using your own reinterpretation of their style.  So I think it's very interesting to imagine how an attempt to remain true to Soane could have worked itself out and in that spirit, I've had a first bash at creating something along those lines.

It's very schematic at present, but I've tried to take a more additive approach. This is a building that could be extended and adapted in stages, as the bank was during Soane's tenure. It's a jumble of parts jostling with each other inside the limits of the city walls.  I try to hint at how "Soane style" could be applied to, the 5 to 7 storey blocks around the periphery. Then as a tower starts to emerge from the middle of the site (let's say in the 1980s) The style shifts into more of an expressed frame, with a bit of a nod towards Terragni.

Hopefully, I will get around to developing this idea further in future.  Or maybe someone else would like to pick it up.  Come to think of it, it would make a very interesting student project.  Anybody out there in the architecture schools like to give it a go?

Just getting back to the original chat.  I was prompted to look closer at Pitzhanger Manor, and the extent of Soane's estate.  I compared his original survey of the land he purchased with Walpole Park as it exists in Ealing right now.  It's a very close match, and it's a great space, as I found out on my recent visit.  I have come to realise just how rapidly Soane rose into the landed classes from a very humble background.  Rags to riches, like a Dickens novel perhaps. 

We think of England in the colonial period as a terribly oppressive class society, but there were also tremendous opportunities for people with exceptional abilities operating within a rapidly expanding economy. 

I have been thinking a lot recently about how judgemental human beings can be.  I guess it was advantageous for our ancestors to jump to conclusions based on scanty evidence rather than forming a committee to examine each threat that came along in an objective manner.  But the implications today can be unfortunate.

John Soane lived towards the end of the enlightenment period  when ideas of tolerance, freedom of speech, the secular state and parliamentary democracy began to take shape in Western Europe.  It's easy to be cynical if you grew up taking these things for granted.  Clearly the reality is fragile and flawed when compared to the lofty ideals, but isn't that the point?

Life comes in shades of grey. Be suspicious of moral panic and slow to label another "tribe" as enemies of truth.  We have amazing tools at our disposal.  How can we best use them to understand our history and imagine possible futures ?

That's my "BIM pencil" challenge for the week.  Take care.

Friday, July 21, 2017


Sadly this is already more that a week old.  Read on.

It's been a bit of a disastrous few days for me.  Maybe that's putting a melodramatic spin on it, but firstly I am recovering from a very sore shoulder which seems to be a result of posture and mouse use.  I actually spent the last day of the week trying to use my left hand.  Interesting, but very clumsy.
It makes me realise how much of my time is spent in dialogue with a computer screen.  It's been extremely wierd spending a three day weekend almost completely ignoring my laptop. Which brings me to the next catastrophe.  The wonderful new laptop I received from HP as a reward for my work on Project Soane has suddenly stopped working.  Fortunately I have my old machine and just about everything is backed up via OneDrive, but it still feels like a mortal blow.

One of the things I did with my left hand, was to make a task chair family.  I came across this thing called the "Trinetic" which offered a download of drawings and images.  I thought it looked quite sweet, and decided to remind myself how to convert a 3d mesh into a useable family via 3dmax (and Autocad)  I had forgotten, but was able to follow my own post from early 2016.  Basically it's all about hiding the edges of the polygons.     be-gone-sharp-edges

There will be the usual complaints about nested CAD, but I am over this now.  You can't model something like this convincingly with Revit native geometry.  It's not the kind of shape that those tools were designed to make.  Here is a nice smooth version, all ready made, so let's use it.  Solids are great for things that need to be sectioned.  That doesn't apply to furniture. Mesh is the way everyone models this kind of stuff for visualisation, movies, etc.  The minute you try to get half way to modeling these double curved shapes with native tools there's going to be lots of gymnastics cutting with voids and the file size will shoot up.  Really, I love some of the stuff that has been done for people like Herman Miller, but looking through that again, there is nothing that comes close to the smooth flowing tapered curves of a chair like this. 

Add to that the whole "cross-platform" debate and I just don't see the point of turning your noses up at mesh geometry.  Revit can handle it.  We know how to hide the edges.  File sizes are very reasonable.  So if someone has already done the modelling for you as a CAD mesh, gobble it up.
Having hidden the edges in 3dmax, exported to DXF2014 and resaved as DWG, I inserted the mesh into an RFA template.  For the most part the geometry was already sorted into layers by material.  I just had to put the wheels on to a different layer.  The layer names weren't very helpful, so I renamed them in Object Styles, which is of course where you go (within the project environment) to apply materials.

Revit has this habit of creating a bunch of materials with dumb names (Render Material 0-0-255, etc) I like to delete all these. Then I usually apply some of the default materials to the layers, just to give some definition to the family, which will also show up in the thumbnail.  I use the default materials because I believe in sharing with the global Revit community, and I don't particularly want to inflict my material naming conventions on everyone else.  It's called being polite.

Here's how my cleanup process in Object Styles played out

The next point of controversy is the use of symbolics.  I'll state my position once more.  I like to be able to produce crisp linework on sheet sets.  Maybe it's because I grew up drawing by hand, maybe it's because I think people respond better to visual communication that delights the senses.  Look at web site design, advertising, company logos, product packaging.  We have a sense of beauty and elegance, and we are subconsciously influenced in positive and negative ways.  "Old Fashioned" ideas of draughtmanship and layout do matter, whether you are trying to sell a design to a client, or communicate intentions to a construction worker.  So messy, fuzzy edges to furniture objects in my plans and elevations really bug me.  They also bug senior management who don't need to have their negative prejudices towards BIM confirmed.

In short, I may be working left handed at the moment, but I don't want my families to look like they were drawn that way.  So I have chosen to create crisp linework and masking regions in the 3 orthographic planes.  Revit doesn't make it easy for me to differentiate between front and back elevations, but usually front will do fine.

Here I am going to agree with the CAD haters.  There are 2D CAD files in the download, and it would save a bit of time to use these, but I want to have masking regions anyway, and I usually find that manufacturer drawings show too much fine detail for architectural purposes.  I'm not going to be using these at a scale of 1:5.  I want them to look right at 1:20 & 1:50. So I am redrawing and simplifying as I go.  I have also introduced a certain amount of "coarse-medium-fine" differentiation.  It's quite subtle, but might as well do it while I can.

But what about the 3d geometry? Do we need 3 versions? I suggest not.  I hate the all-purpose boxes that are so commonly used.  What's the point if you can't tell whether it's a chair or a WC?  But it may be worthwhile using 3 simple extrusions to represent a generic task chair.  Have that for coarse 3d views and the CAD import for medium and fine. Use symbolics in plan/section/elevation.

Finally I tried a quick render ... could this be another downside of meshes?  Seems like the seat is distorting render bitmaps in rather strange ways.  The back is fine, so maybe it's not meshes per se that are the problem.  Might be worth exploring that a bit more some time.  In any case it's only really an issue with large scale patterns like the striped fabric.
Anybody else want to help make families like this from available 3d CAD?  Fancy a bit of crowd sourcing?  Or maybe we could make some "collections" up ... like this one I assembled from an Italian furniture maker that I stumbled across.  Seems to me that even half a dozen experienced Revit users willing to cooperate on something like this could significantly improve the range of content available online.

link to my version of the Trinetic chair


(sharing of this link should now be fixed)

By the way it's about 900kb which is much smaller than it would be if you tried to do this with Revit native geometry. even if you accepted lots of sharp edges where this is nice and smooth and rounded off.

Oh, and while we're here, Kak-Handed, or Cack-handed as some would have it, means left handed in the part of the world where I grew up, and my association comes to mean "incompetent"

On that note, here's a recent quote from a government minister in my home country of Zimbabwe, and I can assure you it was said in all seriousness.