Case Study#4: Architecture and photogrammetry (DJI Phantom 2)

Sometimes new technology needs to mature before it is efficient or useful to use in the daily work. And as an architect, I always need to balance the time and effort to play with new tools that may be useful in the future.

Photogrammetry on the other hand is not a new technology anymore. But since new software makes the process much smoother, and the prices for drones has been dropping, there is a lot of new potential with this technology.

That is why I have made a couple of case studies lately, to understand the limitation and possibilities for a real life project. My first experiment is with the DJI Phantom 2 drone, and I wanted to see what kind of accuracy I got from the mesh and the pointcloud from the photogrammetry.

I was rather impressed to see the results if you take in consideration that the drone only took 31 photos, but maybe it is not accurate enough to use it in the design phase. But then again, how accurate do you actually need the surroundings to be? When you import it to Revit, the pointcloud may give value as an reference.

Special thanks to Geomatikk Survey for the excellent drone service.

No Autodesk A360 Collaboration for Revit outside of North America

I am going to work on a project together with an architect that is located far away from where I am located, so I have been trying to find a good solution how to work together on the same Revit model without too much hassel.

I hoped that I could avoid setting up a server, and wanted therefor to try use the A360 service. I soon understood that I needed the Autodesk A360 Collaboration for Revit subscription, but when I tried to buy it I was forwarded to the European Autodesk site. Here I did not have an option for subscribing this service.

I talked to the Autodesk staff and understood that it was only available in North America and he did not know when it was going to be released outside North America.

Revit Gunslinger Shanghai 2014

I have just returned from an excellent trip to Shanghai where I attended my first Autodesk Revit Gunslinger event.  We were in total 16 Revit enthusiasts from around the world and we tested new Revit features for four days. The event was superbly organized by the Autodesk team and we had a great time!


The Gunslingers and the Autodesk team


Shanghai by night

RTC EUR Dublin (2014)

Last year I attended Revit Technology Conference (RTC) in Delft and I had a great experience. It was a compact and small conference, high quality lectures, and it was well organized even thought it was the first time they arranged a RTC in Europa. The same qualities seemed RTC in Dublin to share. The lectures I had signed up for looked promising, the city seemed to have a lot of atmosphere, and they had increased the length of the conference with one day. So this time I had high expectations, and from my office, Dark Architects, we sent 7 architects in total to this conference. That is 13% of the entire office, so I really hoped that they would not be disappointed.


From left: Thomas Benedict Holth, Håvard Vasshaug, Kaja Kittang Kvande, Lars Ribbum, Vilde Aspen, Arne Folkestad Bjelland, Ricardo Sousa

As usually the conference started with Chairman’s Introduction & Keynote Presentation and it was a great start. Especially when Paul Doherty from «the digital group» took the stage, and talked about how the digital technology would change the world in the future. He explained the value of making big data understandable and available in a live context. He used examples on how firemen could use BIM technology together with other information that was available in the area, showed us a new Google project called, and he showed us how they are testing robots in the states to do surveillance in kinder garden. One of many tasks the robot is going to perform is to report if a child is going towards a car that is suspicions based on face recognition and by scanning number plates. In fact, his vision of the future made me nervous and uncomfortable regarding the many issues regarding surveillance and privacy. And then, his last example was how Watch_Dog We are big data collect and visualize the absurd amount of information that is already open and available on the web.


Paul Doherty from «the digital group»

Wow, is this how we want to use technology in the future? Is suddenly the movie «Transcendence» I saw on the plane to Dublin not that far off after all? One of the best speakers last year at RTC in Delft was Kelly Cone where he explained how Beck Group used 3D scanning in a project. This time he titled his lecture “Drawings? We don’t need No Stinkin’ Drawings” and he explained actually how much it costs in time to produce and maintain a drawing. In a recent project the Beck group tried to reduce the number of drawings to a minimum. They started listing 169 sheets of drawings they normally would produce, but by asking the consultants what they actually needed of information; they reduced it with 98 sheets. That is a lot of money saved.  He then continued talking about model based fabrication and briefly talked about how this would impact the industries. Next speaker was Julien Benoit with “You can count me like one, two, three, I’ll be there”. The best part was his explanation of the power of using parts when making schedules and how he used Dynamo to import and export information to building elements in the model. That we all like it sexy was how Jay Zallan approached the importance of making a well modeled BIM model. And from there Anthony Hauck from Autodesk took the stage and talked about the visions Autodesk have for Revit and other application. He made it clear that Revit should be seen as a client that not will do everything, but rather be seen as one of many tools in the ecosystem. He also demonstrated a couple of cool new application like A360 and project Akaba. I am looking forward to testing out these tools soon.


Anthony Hauck from «Autodesk»

After wrapping up the day with Glorious Gadgets, where they showed new gadgets and technology, first day of RTC officially over. The second day started with Brian Mackey talk about “Every day use of adaptive components”. It’s was a good introduction with some basic tips of how to use it in a regular project, and a good reminder of how useful adaptive components really can be. In these technology conferences it can be almost to much attention to drawingtools and skills, and therefore I really enjoyed the next lecture «The good, bad, and ugly of sharing a design model with the contractor» by Michael Whaley and Josh Lowe. They discussed how the contractors should use the models during the construction phase of a project, and the pros and cons for the different delivery methods they use in the US. And now I want to talk about Dynamo. Håvard Vasshaug started in many ways a RTC marathon of Dynamo sessions this year. And what a great start! My colleague did a live demo, where he builds his formulas and nodes from scratch. It was impressive how much he had time to do in his limited time, but that Dynamo did not crash during his hole session was maybe even more extraordinary:)


Håvard Vasshaug from Dark Architects

Andreas Dieckmann, Julien Benoit and Peter Kompolschek did continue with Dynamo labs and sessions through the entire Saturday and they did demonstrate how powerful Dynamo can be in the daily use of Revit. Maybe the most important thing I learned in these sessions is that Dynamo can make my life much easier also with simple tasks. I am thinking about tasks like importing/exporting data to and from an object in Revit, or to extract buildinginformation for object to be placed on sheets etc. You should remember that Dynamo do so much more that only creating complex geometry.

Dynamo lab

Dynamo lab

The RTC committee has arranged another great conference. It was both inspiring and fun, professional and social. The third RTC in Europa will be in Budapest next year, and then I hope to see even more European speakers. I think that would increase the popularity in general and make RTC EUR stand out from the rest of RTC.

Case study #3 Part B: Exterior cladding

Okay, let us talk about the exterior cladding.

type type_3d

It is made of aluminum plates with two different sets of profiles (see picture above). These two different profiled plates are mounted one after the other, and since the module is 2400 mm and the width of every plate is 600 mm, there will be two plates of each type on every module.

position position_3d

Within every module, the aluminum plates are either on the border of the module, towards a window or towards another plate. These three different positions have an impact on how the edges of the two different plates will be (see picture above).

I have made these two profiled plates as two different curtain wall panel families in Revit for various reason. One of the reason is that sometimes the width is less than 600 mm, and then I want to keep either the left or the right side of the curtain wall panel in a fixed position.This will avoid the position of the profiled plates from shifting from each other (this is illustrated in the video).


The two curtain wall panels is basically made in the same way that I demonstrated in «Family training#1 -CWpanel with array» but in a slightly more complex way. The reason that I can’t do it in the same way, is that I need this family to be 100 % accurate due to production. I can’t simply divide the width of the curtain wall panel with the width of the profiles since this will be to inaccurate. Therefore I have added a little new flavor into the family, and that is a couple of «IF» statements and a profile that can varies between the profile closest to the curtain wall grid (see picture above).


In this way I can simply make a schedule that counts every family and types, combined with height and width parameter, and voilà. You are close to production.  

Case Study#3 Part A: A modular facade in Revit


We are working on a project where the facade will be a prefabricated modular facade, where the  modules will arrive at the construction yard ready to be mounted on to the slabs. Since the modules contains everything from exterior cladding, exterior shading,  insulation, interior wall cladding, there will be no need to do anything more with the facade after every module have been mounted.

The reduced construction time at the construction yard is one of the reason it is getting more and more popular with prefabricated modular facades. It is also getting increasingly popular because of reduced cost and increased precision.


There are many ways of modeling a modular facade in Revit, and it varies from project to project. In this project I have used a lot of Curtain Walls and Groups, which has some pros and cons. I will divide this Case Studie in multiple parts, where this part will cover the general principles of model with groups.


 The width of each module is 2400 mm and the height is in 3800 mm. This will give the facade a modular grid. You should try to have as few types of modules as possible since the amount of different modules usually will have a cost effect. Sometimes you have to balance the amount of different types of modules with the amount of flexibility. But not always. This is specially important in the early stages of the project, because if you can’t keep it simple in the start you may end up with a to «complex» end result.


Every module type is one group. so if you have 10 different types of modules you will have 10 different types of groups. Some tips using groups:

  • Keep the amount of groups down to a minimum. The illustration above shows you that in the finale phase of your project, you will have many different groups. . The more groups you have, the more you have to maintain. BUT, you should never stop doing what you want to do with your project because you don’t want to make more groups…
  • Group origin. One of great thing of using groups, is that you can change one group with another to test different concepts. To be able to do this, every group has to have the same group origin
  • Disallow join. The groups are going to be stacked together, and you don’t want your walls within a group to  magically join with the neighbor group. Therefor,disallow join as much as possible
  • How to keep track of your groups. Check this blog to get you started: It’s not a perfect solution but it works



In this facade I almost only uses Curtain Walls with different Curtain Wall Panels and Mullions. I will explain this in depth in my next blog post.


Remember, all the hard work you are using modeling your facade in 3D, you will be able to harvest directly from your model to production drawings. And that is a great feeling!

Stay tuned for part 2!

Case Study#1: Façade casettes

DNB’s new headquarter consist of three buildings with a underground story that connects the buildings together. The building to the far west is designed by Dark Architects, and the concept for the facade was to give it a heavy and solid expression. We did this by playing with different depths and by using a black granite as the facade material. DnB Vestbygget - Jiri Havran - (6)


The sizes of each cassettes is 900mm x 900mm and they are made by gluing 4 mm granite to an aluminium honeycomb system. In total we have more than 6100 cassettes with more than 350 different types. If we are only counting the types there are more than 10 cassettes, we are down to only 25 different cassettes types. With these 25 different types, we cover more than 90% of the facade. 2.naturstein_Page_02   2.naturstein_Page_06 To stack all the different cassettes the way we wanted, we tagged all the cassettes on the production drawing. Since they were going to start mounting from the left of the building, we also added which container every cassette should be shipped in. This to make it more efficient on the construction site. 2.naturstein_Page_10  
Every cassettes is drawn in 3D so we were in total control of the details.2.naturstein_Page_082.naturstein_Page_09


Take a look at the Youtube video below:

Read more about the project: