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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!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Net-Zero Energy Buildings: Attainable or Not?

"A zero-energy building, also known as a zero net energy (ZNE) building, net-zero energy building (NZEB), or net zero building, is a building with zero net energy consumption, meaning the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site, or in other definitions by renewable energy sources elsewhere. These buildings consequently contribute less overall greenhouse gas to the atmosphere than similar non-ZNE buildings. They do at times consume non-renewable energy and produce greenhouse gases, but at other times reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas production elsewhere by the same amount." - Wikipedia
Theewaterskloof Dam level at 15.7% as of 2017/05/08: A major component of the Western Cape Water Supply System

As with everything in life, we will always have two opposing sides when it comes to opinions. In this case, if we look at Net-Zero Energy Buildings, you will have people, professionals, and academics vehemently advocating Zero Net Energy Buildings for the numerous long-term benefits it has (Guess in which camp I am), while the other side will vehemently argue that the initial capital expenditure is way too high, that the payback period is way too long, that the client will always look for the cheapest design and construction costs, etc. etc. – Hence designing Net Zero Energy Buildings may not be worth the effort.

My opinion is that we have no other choice but to change our mindsets and design for zero energy consumption. What do I mean by we? Simply put, everyone: We need the buy in from the average Joe and Jill on the street, from professionals working in the industry, from professional bodies and government institutions, and most importantly, from our private and corporate clients.
"In 1896 the Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius published a new idea. As humanity burned fossil fuels such as coal, which added carbon dioxide gas to the Earth’s atmosphere, we would raise the planet’s average temperature. This “greenhouse effect” was only one of many speculations about climate change, however, and not the most plausible. Scientists found technical reasons to argue that our emissions could not change the climate. Indeed most thought it was obvious that puny humanity could never affect the vast climate cycles, which were governed by a benign “balance of nature.” In any case major change seemed impossible except over tens of thousands of years." - Scientific American

The Internet is literally littered with famous quotes on incorrect predictions about technology and the effects thereof. Someone once said, "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home". The same someone claimed that what he said was taken out of context: "...he was not referring to personal computers but to a household computer that would control the home". Ouch.... #IOT.

Will we be also be quoted on incorrect predictions in future? "Global warming is just a weather pattern which will pass"

We need to stop looking at the now and start looking at the future. Imagine if Orville and Wilbur Wright never bothered inventing the airplane - 'Because humans were not meant to fly'; 'It would be too expensive'; or 'Who actually wants to fly halfway around the world - That's what ships are there for!'

The aim of this post is not to try and convince you to become a Green Warrior. Nor is it to recruit you to join environmental organisations. The aim is to have you look past the daily challenges you face, like budgets, payback periods, etc., and start thinking about your entire design process. How can you overcome these daily challenges. How can you make a change through doing what you do best? Are you designing for yourself, or designing for future generations? If there are no future generations, who will appreciate the space you have created?

David Thorne believes that The Internet is a Playground. There are thousands of articles on, let's call it the "human effect" but sifting through the truths, half-truths, and outright lies can take quite a long time (Ever tried to YouTube Revit tutorials? You'll know what I mean!).

However, if you are in the business of design and would like more information on designing for the future, I invite you to register for the Building Performance Analysis Certificate through Autodesk's Sustainabilty Workshop website. It's a online, for free and even after 4 years since I completed the course, I still remain as passionate as I was then about making a change in whatever way I can.

Friday, 28 April 2017

100 000 Views - A new Revit Recess milestone

It seems very apt to start this blog entry off with a huge THANK YOU! Revit Recess has just reached the 100 000 view milestone! This could not have been possible without you.

Statistically speaking, 46% of all readers are based in the United States, followed by Russia, South Africa, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada if we look at the Top 6 countries. Chrome is still the internet browser of choice (66%) with Internet Explorer and Firefox at 15% and 11% respectively. 

The Top 5 most popular posts are:
1. Revit Planting RPC Source File
2. Revit LED Striplights
3. Revit LED Striplight Creation Tutorial
4. Fun with 5 Custom Staircase Designs
5. Revit 2016 Render Engine Comparison

So, what is next for Revit Recess? What would you like to see or read about? Would you be interested in a Youtube channel? Livestreaming through Twitch? Let me know in the comments

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Euclidian Egg Construction - Happy Easter!

Euclid (300BCE), sometimes called Euclid of Alexandria to distinguish him from Euclides of Megara, was a Greek mathematician, often referred to as the "father of geometry". He was active in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy I (323–283 BCE). His Elements is one of the most influential works in the history of mathematics, serving as the main textbook for teaching mathematics (especially geometry) from the time of its publication until the late 19th or early 20th century. In the Elements, Euclid deduced the principles of what is now called Euclidean geometry from a small set of axioms. Euclid also wrote works on perspective, conic sections, spherical geometry, number theory, and rigor. Source: Wikipedia

This Revit Recess entry will explain the steps required to create a Euclidian Egg in Revit. I have used Takaya Iwamoto's Draw a Real Chicken Egg as reference material.

I tend to get extremely confused when instructions state, for example, that the "centrepoint of circle A should intersect with point P1, while intersecting with circle H1's centrepoint". I tend to think in pictures, so instead you will find pictorial instructions on the required steps below.

Step 1:

Step 2:

Step 3:

Step 4:

Step 5:

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Step 7:

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Step 9:

Step 10:

Have a safe and festive Holy Week and a joyful Easter Sunday, folks!