AECCafe Guest Blog
Dr. Biplab Sarkar
Dr. Sarkar has been with Vectorworks since 2000. After first serving as a manager of geometry and rendering, he was the chief technology officer from 2008 to 2016. With 25+ years of experience developing CAD software, he was promoted to CEO in April 2016. As CEO, Biplab provides strategic … More »
Empower Your Design Process with 3D Modeling
February 26th, 2018 by Dr. Biplab Sarkar
Today, architects are challenged to meet compressed project schedules with tight budgets. Depending on your perspective, they are either fortunate or a bit cursed by the number of software products available to them as they face these challenges. With continual advances in technology, it can be intimidating to keep up with the latest developments and navigate what’s best for you and your team. How can architects adopt new workflows and meet those challenges — all without sacrificing their creative processes?
One of the most straightforward ways to improve your design process change is to incorporate 3D modeling. 3D modeling facilitates a streamlined design process while allowing designers to express their creative visions, rather than solely producing documentation. Because 3D workflows utilize intelligent, parametric objects, as well as expressive free-form modeling, they can be used for design exploration, as well as documentation.
Make the Most of 3D Modeling
Most of the 3D architectural models will consist of either solids, NURBS surfaces, NURBS curves, meshes, subdivision surfaces, and more. Not only is it important to support these different types of 3D, but its equally as important to have the ability to create one form of 3D model from another. This supports the design process and helps architects explore one form against the other to study different design schemes.
Unfortunately, many design and modeling software don’t offer all the different types of 3D objects that are required to efficiently represent an architectural project. To get the biggest return from your design software investment, it’s best to look for a program, like Vectorworks Architect, that provides a comprehensive solution by allowing all of these types in one single platform.
In Vectorworks, solids are accurately represented by the B-rep or boundary representation. Modifications on solids can be performed to create shells, edge fillets/chamfers, sections, additions, subtractions, and intersections, among others.
The Deform tool in Vectorworks provides the ability to further manipulate solids by shrinking or expanding it with modes such as “bulge” and “bend”. These solids can be further manipulated with the “twist” mode, which allows you to select one point as a common edge and rotate a surface around it. These are just a few of the user-friendly ways to manipulate a 3D shape to create a schematic model.
NURBS modeling helps you explore more curvilinear, organic forms. NURBS surfaces can be created by extracting surfaces from solids, revolving a curve with a rail, lofting, or by creating a drape surface, just to name a few. Of course, NURBS surfaces can be trimmed, extended, and reshaped, according to your needs.
In Vectorworks Architect software, you can design in a natural, intuitive manner by taking advantage of automatic push/pull capabilities and adding or subtracting a solid to or from the original object.
With technology based on Pixar’s OpenSubdiv libraries, architects can take advantage of subdivision surface modeling in Vectorworks to make multi-faceted surfaces appear smoother. Subdivision modeling allows you to represent complex surfaces by creating a polygonal mesh of the shape and applying further subdivisions of regions of the mesh where required, to better approximate complex curved surfaces. The resulting meshes are then smoothed with curves connecting the vertices of the mesh, producing a form with no sharp edges or creases. This allows you to explore ideas through sculpting and shaping with few limits.
To create customization within a design, 3D models can also be modified using the algorithmic modeling tool, Marionette, natively available in Vectorworks Design Series products. Integrated visual scripts allow architects to explore design alternatives by changing the parameters of the nodes set up in the Marionette network.
Using 3D modeling to explore design is only efficient and most beneficial if the tools you are using are best suited for the design process. Being able to create one type of 3D form from another and having the freedom to manipulate 3D geometry in a variety of ways makes Vectorworks Architect a unique and purpose-built tool.
Experience Greater Efficiencies
There’s no question that flexibility and ease of use are necessary for architects to foster the creative process. In addition, precision and depth are required for accuracy. To accommodate these needs, some architects use one program to create 3D forms and then import those geometries into another program to extract views for technical drawings or to add data. However, this process can be cumbersome and add unnecessary time and effort into reworking and redrawing when designs change. It also creates more opportunities for errors.
To maximize efficiency, it’s best to simplify your process and choose a software platform that allows you to meet all your design needs, from concept to completion. Look for a solution that offers you the freedom to design and also create any type of output documentation — from presentation drawings and renderings, to technical drawings, to documentation — all in one interface.
Finally, in every project, collaboration is key. Because each project stakeholder might use different software platforms, the ability to exchange different file types and clearly communicate across teams becomes essential to success. One of the ways to ensure this is to choose a software program with a broad set of import/export capabilities and the ability to exchange files through open standards, such as the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) file format.
It’s time to see for yourself. Watch this webinar to learn best practices with 3D modeling tools, and discover a more efficient way to design.