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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Case Study - Revit for Design Competitions



If you follow current events in the architectural world then you may have heard about the Guggenheim Helsinki design competition.  The Guggenheim foundation hosted an open competition to design a new museum in Helsinki, Finland.  Incredibly, over 1700 designers submitted from all around the globe.

Among those 1750 submissions is a a design by team number "GH-124686905".  That team consisted of my good buddy Derek and I.

A year or so out of school we both decided we wanted to start taking part in some design competitions as a way to expand creatively, build a better portfolio, and maybe even get a commission (hey, you never know).

Of course, Revit was our program of choice.  I wanted to share some images with brief text from this experience because there are very few articles (if any) demonstrating the power of Revit at such an early stage as a design competition entry. Continue reading for more images and examples...


One of the main reasons I wanted to show the case study is the unconventional massing of the building.  If you saw these renderings outside of this blog you may not think they were made in Revit.  I mean look at all those wooden slats, slanted walls, and the "death star" orb!!

Every image you see from this moment forward was created using Revit, Photoshop, or a simple pen and paper.

This project is a perfect example of what Revit CAN do...

The Concept 



The concept was very simple.  Many of Helsinki's buildings have internal courtyards with private outdoor spaces used by owners and occupants.  As a public building on a beautiful waterfront site with walking and biking paths we did not want to interrupt the pedestrian flow.

The proposed design takes an orthogonal rectangle with an interior courtyard and breaks the rigidity of the shape, allowing the public to freely move in and about the structure. Two opposite corners of the rectangle are pushed upward and downward respectively, forming a continuous avenue from the city, through the site, and onto the waterfront. The courtyard then becomes an open public forum and gathering space, creating paths and passageways through the site without ever impeding the natural pedestrian flow of the community.


The "Death Star"



Derek and I took the sketch above (along with many other sketches) and started massing it out in 3-dimensions and to scale.  Here, we used Revit as a sketch modeling tool.  We also added what became known as the "death star" entry.  (Click the images to enlarge them)...









Skinning the Model


When we finally landed on a mass that we both liked and made sense for all the normal reasons (program, context, etc...) it was time to turn our mass into a building.  This is a step I like to call "skinning the model" or "skinning the mass".  Imagine the concept mass  as your bones and now we need to wrap it with skin and make it look like you.  

Of course, we wanted the exterior facade to be a continuous skin of wooden slats.  So we need a defined pattern of wooden slats that allow light through and they are all slanted... Hmm...

Curtain systems and walls to the rescue!  The entire exterior facade, roof, green roof walkways, glazing, and wooden sphere (death star) where created out of curtain systems and walls...

Don't believe me?








Polishing it up...


After wrapping the mass with a curtain wall skin we applied our materials to their respective elements.  Believe it or not there are only a few different materials in play on the exterior and interior of this model.  The white wooden slats, the green roof, the wooden sphere, the glass, and the floors.

After using the cloud to render all of our views we went into post-production and presentation board creation mode.  ALWAYS POST-PROCESS YOUR RENDERINGS!  Post-processing is an essential step in creating high-quality rendering from Revit.  See for yourself (before and afters):




Those are just two quick examples of how important post processing is to the rendering process.  If you are unsure of what post-processing means or how to get started I dive into the details in an easy to follow, step-by-step video tutorial within BIM After Dark - Volume 1. Check it out here!

The Final Boards


The following images are the final submission boards from our team.  Take a good look at all the variety of images and diagrams used.  Every one of them was developed using Revit (except the hand drawings, of course). 






I've also decided to uploaded some of the full size renderings from the boards above...








Unfortunately, we did not place in the top six.  Although, we still have a 30 to 1743 chance of making honorable mention!  


I hope this case study opens your mind to the possibilities of Revit in all stages of your process.  When utilized correctly, Revit can be the most powerful design tool in your arsenal and I hope Derek and I proved that with this project. 

Derek and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

Free eBook!



If you enjoyed this post then you will definitely enjoy my free eBook that breaks down a similar process but on a different building.






You can sign up and download the eBook here... 


Want to learn how to make the images in this post?



Also, if you want to learn how to make your Revit renderings, floor plans, sections, and elevations look like the ones in this post check out BIM After Dark Volume 1.  I show you the exact techniques, tips, and tricks Derek and I used to create this presentation.

Click here to a free sample video of  BIM After Dark - Volume 1 today!