Traditionally we are used to seeing buildings designed in 2D but with the introduction of BIM (Building Information Modelling) in the early 2000’s, 2D drawings have taken a backseat over the preferred 3D modelling of BIM. As of 2019 BIM is mandatory in large public sector projects in Ireland but in saying that it has taken over as the main method of design in a lot of architectural practices. Revit is a BIM software that makes designing, planning and constructing a building a seamless process between multiple disciplines in the construction industry.
From concept to handover, building models are now being completed in Revit. There are some very intuitive conceptual massing tools built into the software to enable Architects to flesh out ideas on screen, continue to take these concepts from early design stages through to construction all the way to handover. The conceptual design tools allow a designer to place a conceptual mass on a specific site in order to get a grasp on how the proposed building will affect the surrounding environment and existing buildings. Sites can be linked directly from a CAD survey providing said survey contains elevation points; from this an accurate topography can be generated on which any new building can be positioned. Site locations can be pinpointed using world coordinates or an address which gives the ability to provide accurate sun/light studies which aid any designer when orientating and streamlining their design on a specific site.
The user interface includes a properties dialog and a project browser. The properties dialog holds all information available about every element in the model. For example, if you click on a wall, you will find all information about this wall in the properties dialog including the level it is hosted on, the height and wall type. You can also edit the wall type from here. The project browser does exactly as it says, it lets you browse the project, every view, schedule, sheet and family are discoverable from this browser.
Properties dialog and Project Browser
In previous Cad solutions we drew in 2D using simple lines to represent foundations, walls, roofs, pipes and wires. With Revit we can draw what we want to see. It is no longer necessary to draw a 2D line and have an expectation that the person reading your drawing has access to sections and elevations. In Revit you draw a wall, with a make-up specific to your needs, it has a height, length and a width.
On screen you can still draw the wall in 2D but with the click of a button the 3D version is shown. Revit is far more intuitive than any 2D software that has been available for the Architectural industry to date. Elevations are also easily set up and viewed by double clicking on the elevation marker in plan view. This will take you directly to the elevation view without you having to draw it separately.
As a designer you are trained to see 2D objects in their 3D form but, think of your client who wants to see an end result and isn’t concerned with a series of single lines, arcs and text. In the past we spent endless hours collaborating with artists or investing time and money learning new computer software to produce an artist’s impression or artistic visualisation of a proposed building. By designing in Revit, you can produce a realistic rendered image in just a few clicks and furthermore by using cloud-based rendering you can produce realistic rendered stereo panoramas which can be rotated and viewed using your computer screen or VR goggles.
Revit operability is dependent on using families. If you are an AutoCAD user, you will know what a block is; put simply families are Revit’s version of blocks. From walls to windows, doors, stairs, fixtures and fittings; each of these items have common parameters which can be modified to fit your projects specification. Instead of drawing an individual door each time, you just insert a door into a host wall from the library to suit your needs. They can be modified in height, width, material and even design to your own specification. Every building element in Revit is parametric, which means each element has characteristics that can help in defining or classifying it. Simply put parameters are formulas embedded into a Revit family that control all its properties, including structure, materials and dimensions.
Revit comes complete with a library full of prepopulated families. These families cross a broad spectrum from Annotations to doors, furniture, site and structural elements to windows and everything in between. However, if you are looking to specify a particular fixture to, let’s say a kitchen, and you have the manufacturers’ part number; it has become increasingly likely that you can request a BIM model of the item from the manufacturer, and they will be able to furnish you with a downloadable family. It is in their interest to be able to provide models of their products so they can be shown in 3D models. Many manufacturers already have comprehensive model libraries already available for download.
It is possible to alter existing families to suit your own specification. A window may be specified as an aluminium window frame in your project but the window family available to you classifies it as wood, you can change the material parameter from wood to aluminium by changing the material, this will also alter the thermal property value which can be useful if creating an energy analysis within Revit for use throughout the design stage of your building to facilitate efficient design. Any new family created or altered by you will become part of your project with its own parameters that can be quantified.
One of the most painstaking parts of creating a construction package for any Architect is the formulation of schedules and quantities. With Revit this has become as simple as a few clicks of a mouse button. Every element that makes up the building can be scheduled or quantified. If the element has a category e.g., wall, windows, floor, roof, pipes and rooms, a schedule can be generated with different fields which include quantity, height, cost and manufacturer. Legends are also possible in a few short clicks.
Revit supports collaboration between a multitude of different disciplines. The main focus industries are Architects, structural engineers, mechanical & electrical engineers, contractors and designers. There is a full tab on the user interface dedicated to collaboration. From the collaborate tool which allows multiple team members to work on a project simultaneously to the copy/monitor tool which allows monitoring of any linked file so that if one team alters or changes their design, any other team with the file linked will be notified so they can change their design accordingly. There is also a very handy interference check which identifies invalid intersections between elements of different types whether within a project or between the host model and linked files. For example, a pipe running straight through a structural beam or a wall, without an opening, will be highlighted.
Finally, no drawing can be issued without a title block. All firms have their own title blocks which can easily been drawn up in Revit and placed in your template library for use in every project. Populating a sheet is as easy as drag and drop. Scales can be changed to suit and many different scales can be used on each sheet. Schedules can also be dropped on to a sheet and adjusted to fit.
In conclusion, Revit is an intelligent piece of software that is of huge benefit to any architectural practice who want to streamline their design process and collaborate with other design teams cohesively. It removes a lot of the mundane repetitive tasks that designers encounter on a daily basis; not to mention the fact that the margin for error is greatly reduced.
Check out our various Revit training courses to get you started on your journey.