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18.06.2016 – BIM: non chiedeteci “se”

Scusandoci per il ritardo (è stato un mese inclemente, sotto molti punti di vista), riusciamo finalmente a ringraziare come si deve tutti coloro che sono intervenuti sabato 18 mattina a Salerno, sdegnando una giornata di sole in favore di un’aula universitaria.

Non possiamo condividere le slide dell’intera presentazione, ma ci sentiamo di mettere on-line alcuni principi generali. Il materiale è come sempre riutilizzabile, purché non a scopo commerciale e ne venga citata la fonte.

 

1. Un contesto: i livelli del BIM

BIM level 1

…il professionista lavora sul proprio modello e consegna in chiusura di fase, tipicamente degli elaborati estratti dal modello stesso: la fase successiva non opera in BIM.

 

BIM level 2

…diversi professionisti appartenenti a diverse discipline lavorano ciascuno su un proprio modello, condividendolo periodicamente nel “Common Data Environment”. Si tratta del modello collaborativo che promuoviamo in questo momento, e su cui si è concentrato il nostro racconto.

 

BIM level 3

La soluzione “hardcore”: i professionisti delle varie discipline lavorano contemporaneamente sullo stesso modello. Sconsigliabile, in questo momento, per limitazioni legali e tecnologiche, a meno che non si tratti di collaborazione tra sedi diverse della stessa entità societaria.


 

2. Una premessa: la differenza nel Workflow

BIM Workflow vs Typical Workflow

Non si ragiona più per fase, ma è necessario che tutti gli attori vengano coinvolti nel processo sin dall’inizio dei lavori.


 

3. Documenti necessari all’avvio di un progetto BIM

Consultant Capabilities Assessment: non vi mostreremo il nostro, ma esistono diversi modelli on-line, disponibili per il pubblico utilizzo. Primo fra tutti, quello sviluppato dal Construction Project Information Committee britannico, da cui è preso questo screenshot.

Il Consultant Capabilities Assessment è un questionario, indispensabile in fase di contratto, in cui è necessario che il BIM leading consultant rivolga ai suoi consulenti una serie di domande imbarazzanti: esistono diversi modelli on-line, disponibili per il pubblico utilizzo. Primo fra tutti, quello sviluppato dal Construction Project Information Committee britannico, da cui è preso questo screenshot.

CIAT_MPDT

La Model Production and Delivery Table è una tabella in cui il modello viene suddiviso in parti e fasi: di ogni parte vengono individuati uno o più responsabili, e per ogni parte nella rispettiva fase viene indicato il Level of Development cui quell’elemento deve essere portato. Anche in questo caso esistono diversi modelli disponibili on-line: lo screenshot è preso dalla tabella del Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists britannico.

Il BIM execution plan è il documento in cui confluiscono le linee guida per la realizzazione e il coordinamento del progetto. Il Construction Project Information Committee mette a disposizione due template, uno per il BIM execution plan preliminare al contratto e uno per il documento che accompagnerà il progetto durante tutto il suo svolgimento.

Il BIM Execution Plan è il documento in cui confluiscono le linee guida per la realizzazione e il coordinamento del progetto. Il Construction Project Information Committee mette a disposizione due template, uno per il BIM execution plan preliminare al contratto e uno per il documento che accompagnerà il progetto durante tutto il suo svolgimento.


 

4. Common Data Environment e il suo breakdown

Il Common Data Environment (CDE) è uno spazio condiviso e accessibile a tutti, tipicamente suddiviso in parti, in cui in una collaborazione al Level 2 vengono caricati i modelli e i relativi eventuali documenti. Uno schema di suddivisione è suggerito dalla PAS 1192-2.

Il Common Data Environment (CDE) è uno spazio condiviso e accessibile a tutti, tipicamente suddiviso in parti, in cui in una collaborazione al Level 2 vengono caricati i modelli e i relativi eventuali documenti. Uno schema di suddivisione è suggerito dalla PAS 1192-2.

 


 

5. Imprevisti e probabilità

BIM peso edificio

Il peso medio di un file, scherzosamente calcolato per metro lineare di sviluppo in altezza, può costituire un collo di bottiglia critico nelle procedure collaborative.

 

Punto di Panico

Il momento del panico corrisponde tipicamente alla prima consegna in BIM e deriva da una falsa aspettativa: la progressione del lavoro è in CAD, mentre le fasi iniziali di un lavoro in BIM hanno uno sviluppo più lento.

 


 

6. La componente umana

L'efficienza nella progettazione è pregiudicata dalla maestria nell'uso degli strumenti, ma non si tratta di un concetto introdotto dal BIM. Si assiste semmai un ritorno a ciò che era necessario conoscere prima del CAD.

L’efficienza nella progettazione è pregiudicata dalla maestria nell’uso degli strumenti, ma non si tratta di un concetto introdotto dal BIM. Si assiste semmai un ritorno a ciò che era necessario conoscere prima del CAD.

 

Gli "stadi evolutivi" di un esperto BIM

Gli “stadi evolutivi” di un esperto BIM

 

BIM beginner user power user

Da beginner a power user: non si diventa autonomi in una settimana.

 

BIM half and half

Due persone con visioni parziali del processo non sostituiscono una persona che padroneggi il quadro d’insieme.

 

BIM manager e coordinator - principio di decadimento

L’importanza di avere power user e il principio di decadimento: se il team è insufficiente in numero o insufficientemente autonomo, parte delle loro mansioni di modellazione/progettazione ricadono sul BIM coordinator, che dovrà chiedere aiuto al BIM manager per svolgere mansioni di coordinamento a livello di progetto. Questo implica, a livello aziendale, che il BIM manager avrà meno tempo per occuparsi delle strategie e delle infrastrutture aziendali.

 

BIM formazione

A livello di implementazione e dovendo potenziare un team esistente con una figura aggiuntiva, è bene non dimenticare la necessità di operare parallelamente un piano di formazione sulle risorse esistenti. E’ conveniente che la figura aggiuntiva inserita sia in grado di fare formazione sul team. La formazione è uno dei ruoli del BIM coordinator.

 


 

7. La componente informativa: oneri e onori nell’inserimento delle corrette informazioni

BIM parametri di un muro

La proporzione tra le informazioni direttamente ricavate dalla geometria di un elemento (altezza, lunghezza), le informazioni precompilate dal software ma da verificare (vincoli, categorie, assorbimenti) e le informazioni completamente da compilare.

 

Il vantaggio nel compilare le corrette informazioni: secondo la Stanford University, i computi in BIM possono essere realizzati con un margine di errore del 3%

Il vantaggio nel compilare le corrette informazioni: secondo la Stanford University, i computi in BIM possono essere realizzati molto più rapidamente, e con un margine di errore del 3%.

 


 

8. Riassunto: pratiche di buona implementazione

Il downtime: quando si implementa una nuova tecnologia o un nuovo metodo, esiste un tempo fisiologico di assorbimento che determina un calo della produttività dell'organico. Superato il punto di break-even, se il metodo è migliorativo si osserverà un incremento della produttività rispetto al punto di partenza.

Il downtime: quando si implementa una nuova tecnologia o un nuovo metodo, esiste un tempo fisiologico di assorbimento che determina un calo della produttività dell’organico. Superato il punto di break-even, se il metodo è migliorativo si osserverà un incremento della produttività rispetto al punto di partenza.

 

Calo di produttività

Tenete in considerazione che si verificherà un calo di produttività

 

Tenete in considerazione che il reclutamento sarà più oneroso che in passato

Tenete in considerazione che il reclutamento sarà più oneroso che in passato

 

La transizione BIM va operata gradualmente in modo da consentire ai primi di diventare operativi

La transizione BIM va operata gradualmente in modo da consentire ai primi di diventare operativi


 

Errata Corrige al Codice Appalti: cosa cambia all’articolo 23

All’articolo 23:

2016-07-20 10_57_38-Text Compare

Confronto rispetto al testo originale

2016-07-20 11_06_07-Text Compare

Confronto rispetto al parere delle commissioni

A parte l’eliminazione di una ripetizione, viene stralciato il riferimento a “idonei sistemi di monitoraggio” di cui le stazioni appaltanti dovrebbero essere dotate per gestire il BIM. Viene inoltre aggiunta una data per il decreto del ministero, specificato che la Commissione non vedrà un soldo e aggiunti, agli oneri della commissione, le responsabilità di definire non solo i tempi ma anche i modi della transizione. Amministrazioni Concedenti ed operatori economici vengono aggiunti ai gruppi presso i quali la transizione dovrà essere adeguatamente gestita. Modi e tempi della transizione dovranno essere valutati anche tenendo conto “della strategia di digitalizzazione delle amministrazioni pubbliche e del settore delle costruzioni”.
Rispetto al parere delle commissioni, viene nuovamente stralciato il riferimento al “personale adeguatamente formato nel tempo mediante specifici corsi di formazione”.

Il testo diventa quindi:

13. Le stazioni appaltanti possono richiedere per le nuove opere nonche’ per interventi di recupero, riqualificazione o varianti, prioritariamente per i lavori complessi, l’uso dei metodi e strumenti elettronici specifici di cui al comma 1, lettera h). Tali strumenti utilizzano piattaforme interoperabili a mezzo di formati aperti non proprietari, al fine di non limitare la concorrenza tra i fornitori di tecnologie e il coinvolgimento di specifiche progettualita’ tra i progettisti. L’uso dei metodi e strumenti elettronici puo’ essere richiesto soltanto dalle stazioni appaltanti dotate di personale adeguatamente formato. Con decreto del Ministero delle infrastrutture e dei trasporti, da adottare entro il 31 luglio 2016, anche avvalendosi di una Commissione appositamente istituita presso il medesimo Ministero, senza oneri aggiuntivi a carico della finanza pubblica sono definiti le modalita’ e i tempi di progressiva introduzione dell’obbligatorieta’ dei suddetti metodi presso le stazioni appaltanti, le amministrazioni concedenti e gli operatori economici, valutata in relazione alla tipologia delle opere da affidare e della strategia di digitalizzazione delle amministrazioni pubbliche e del settore delle costruzioni. L’utilizzo di tali metodologie costituisce parametro di valutazione dei requisiti premianti di cui all’articolo 38.

 

Gli screenshot di confronto nell’articolo sono realizzati da Text Compare.

National BIM report for manufacturers (2016)

2016-07-20 09_41_22-manufacturers-bim-report-2016.pdf

Il regalo di inizio estate da parte dell’NBS è il seguito a un report dell’anno scorso, rivolto ai produttori.
Come sempre è scaricabile gratuitamente a questo indirizzo.

Change is constant.
Over the past five years, the construction sector has embarked
on a period of rapid change as it transforms into a truly digital industry.

1. Scopo del documento
L’obiettivo del report è evidentemente sensibilizzare i produttori alla realizzazione di oggetti BIM e al loro inserimento sulla piattaforma nazionale. Rientra in quella vasta gamma di documenti di marketing e sensibilizzazione che puntano a spingere l’intera industria, qualcosa che in molti altri paesi, inclusa l’Italia, ancora manca.

2016-07-20 09_42_57-manufacturers-bim-report-2016.pdf

2. Certificazioni e certificazioni
Nonostante il documento parli di altro, anche nel Regno Unito non si rinuncia a un contributo sulle cosiddette certificazioni BIM, e in questo caso si tratta di un contributo a firma di Anthony Harte, direttore della società di consulenza architettonica James & WARD.

Before we can standardise and demonstrate compliance in the ‘BIM world’,
we first need to have concise documentation
that lists the standards required to meet the various ‘levels’.

2016-07-20 09_46_48-manufacturers-bim-report-2016.pdf

3. Il problema delle informazioni
Drew Wigget, capo del dipartimento product information all’NBS, discute l’importanza di un template universale per gli oggetti, un template di tabella da compilare con il numero minimo di informazioni necessarie a comunicare i propri prodotti ai progettisti. La teoria di Wigget è che il BIM non abbia cambiato la comunicazione delle informazioni («Architects have been delivering construction information, drawings and specifications for centuries, so why now the focus on the importance of ‘data’? What has changed?») ma abbia soprattutto costretto i produttori a sistematizzare queste informazioni, a riflettere sul modo in cui queste informazioni vengono comunicate.

Product data templates were a key
deliverable of the NBS BIM Toolkit and
enable product information to be provided
in a standard format.

2016-07-20 09_49_22-manufacturers-bim-report-2016.pdf

4. I dati rilevati
Essendo un report destinati ai produttori per incentivarli a produrre oggetti BIM, e non un’indagine condotta sui produttori, la maggior parte dei dati fa riferimento ai progettisti, alla loro consapevolezza del BIM, al loro utilizzo di oggetti realizzati dai produttori. Molti dei grafici sono mutuati dal National Report, di cui già ho parlato.

2016-07-20 10_01_39-manufacturers-bim-report-2016.pdf

 

“The construction industry needs access to
BIM objects that can be used freely, safe in
the knowledge that they contain the right
levels of information with the appropriate
geometry, all wrapped up in a consistent,
yet structured and easy to use format.”
Richard Waterhouse,
CEO, NBS and RIBA Enterprises

L’incrocio tra il dato relativo a quanti progettisti si realizzano “in casa” i propri oggetti BIM (il 67%) e il desiderio dei progettisti di ricevere tali oggetti dai produttori viene presentato come spinta motivatrice, senza mai perdere di vista la questione della coerenza tra i dati forniti. Il framework fornito dall’NBS consente di:
– sistematizzare i dati all’interno del template per poi realizzare gli oggetti nel formato che si ritiene più opportuno;
– caricare le librerie su una piattaforma nazionale;
– certificarne la coerenza allo standard.

2016-07-20 10_04_22-manufacturers-bim-report-2016.pdf

 

Tutto questo senza perdere di vista i quattro obiettivi del mandato nazionale per la transizione al BIM, ovvero:
– abbattere i costi;
– accorciare i tempi di consegna;
– progettare e costruire in modo da abbattere le emissioni;
– ridurre il disavanzo commerciale per i materiali da costruzione.

 

Exploring Enscape

A friend of mine recently told me that I seem to be writing with more enthusiasm about the things I don’t like rather than about the ones I do like.
Now, providing I don’t agree with this assumption, and after a good deal of self-judgement, I decided it would be good for the soul to add yet another small piece to the amount of things I reviewed positively, so here I am, talking about this little guy.

– What is that? –

Well, let’s start with what it’s not.
And to tell you that, I have to introduce you to a cool guy named Albert.

Now, Albert has everything you might expect him to have giving his profession is an intersection of architecture and IT. He has tattoos, kids, a garden to his house, a motorbike. He even has a twin brother and a cool t-shirt saying “I am the other one”. To pay the bills, like everybody else has to, Albert does this weird job: he gets 2d drawings from his collegues at the firm, does a 3d model from those, curses a lot ’cause things are never aligned, plays a little with materials and bam! produces these amazing pictures that seem real.
Albert is a renderist.
He is super-cool.
He earns a lot of money.

When BIM (or just Revit) got into the picture, somebody thought this would steal Albert’s job.
Didn’t happen.
Now albert gets 3d models from his collegues in the firm, instead of 2d drawings, and if everything goes right he has more time to play with materials. I switched firm, meanwhile, but as far as they tell me he still produces these amazing pictures that seem real.
He still is super-cool.
Still earns a lot of money.

Now, you have to believe me when I tell you that somebody thinks this Enscape thing will steal Albert’s job.
It won’t.
Nothing allows you to simply push one button and produce amazing pictures that seem real, and the reason is quite simple: no software can render cool something that is not there.
You still need Albert to do what Albert does best: choose and apply the right material map, choose the camera, play with lights.
Also, you need to understand that Albert cheats.
Like a lot.
He cheats with lights, to start with, and that’s why he doesn’t use Revit: Revit doesn’t allow to assume you have a light source where there isn’t one, and can’t seem to be able to understand that renderings get done in the earlier stages of the project, therefore nobody is placing those damn lights yet. But Albert cheats with spaces as well: sometimes a wall needs to be torn down for the camera to be moved a little backwards, and sometimes furniture need to be rearranged.
You don’t want Albert playing around in your Revit model, trust me.
And Albert doesn’t want you protesting all the time ’cause he’s messing up your numbers while he cheats.
As Cary Grant would say, a good rendering is like streaptease: don’t ask yourself how they do it, just sit back and enjoy the show.

So, if Enscape doesn’t do renderings, what does it do?
Well, it’s a rendering plug-in, that’s true.
But what it really does is pimp your Revit model and allow you to walk through it, and visualize it in a semi-realistic way.


 

– What do you need to do to make that happen –

If you work like I do, you set up materials for one goal and one goal only, and it’s not renderings. You have people like Albert for that, and honestly you don’t give a damn about the whole photorealistic stuff. You need data and shapes, and that’s what you do.
Now, for Enscape to behave correctly you need to make an extra effort, ’cause it looks at what you never care for. The appearance of materials.

Materials_Graphics

This is what you usually care for

Materials_Appearance

You have to care for this as well

If you don’t remember how materials work in Revit, just try to focus on the Image under “generic”, which is the texture Enscape will see applied to your material. Also try and care for transparency and reflectivity, ok?

Now, all you need is to download the Enscape plug-in. It’s free for 14 days, and I promise you’ll want to buy that when the trial expires.


 

– How does Enscape work –

When you have your model, and once you’ve set up materials, all you need to do is installing Enscape and launching it.
It’s simple.
Enscape will add a ribbon to your Revit and all you’ll need to do is press the Start button.

Enscape_Start

From the drop-down menu on the side, you’ll also be able to choose one of your pre-set 3d views, in case you feel squeamish. This will only place you in the same position of your camera when you placed it in Revit. It’s going to be like a starting point.

Enscape_dropdown

You’ll find yourself in this virtual environment, and your model will be looking right at you.

MoSF_rendered1


 

– Surfing around your model –

It’s like playing a videogame. Well, amost, since you can’t shoot things up and the only monster that will pop up is your BIM manager telling you to stop playing around with your new toy.

Enscape_controls

In case you don’t like how controls behave, you can try and change things from both the General and Input panels of Settings.

Enscape_misc

Once you are in the model, you have two modes you can choose from: the superhero mode and the regular guy mode.
In the regular guy mode, you can walk through your building using regular controls (oh, come on, have you ever played a videogame in your life? Even q*bert counts: controls were the same).
In the superhedo mode (ok, that’s only its real name: only how I call it) you can fly, walk through walls and see people naked. I usually pick the superhero mode.

You have a setting panel you can pop up, and while you play with it, things get updated in your model.

Settings_General

First of all, you have a couple of settings to win easily: the polystirole mode and the papermodel mode. They both disregard whatever mess you might have made with the material appearance in your model: the first turns everything white, and the second one applies a series of filters to reach some sort of watercolour/artistic effect. Please see below, ’cause I can’t explain it without recurring to offending metaphores.

MoSF_regular

Polystirole mode

MoSF_papermade

Papermodel mode

The “image” settings are a little trickier and if you aren’t Albert you might have troubles around them. If you just play with them, you’ll understand what they do soon enough.

Contrast (from 100 to 200)

MoSF_Contrast100 MoSF_Contrast200

Saturation (from o to 200)

MoSF_Saturation0 MoSF_Saturation200

Sharpening (from 0 to 100)

MoSF_Sharpening0 MoSF_Sharpening100

Brightness (from 0.1 to 10)

MoSF_Brightness01 MoSF_Brightness10

Different colour temperatures

MoSF_Color1500K MoSF_Color3824K MoSF_Color8008K MoSF_Color13214K MoSF_Color18234K

Also, in case you’re milanese like me, you might want to add some strong fog and Enscape allows you to do that. So yeah, thumbs up. Must be part of why I like it.


– What is it for –

I bet some of you are confused. I just told you this isn’t something to do renderings with, and then I showed you a bunch of rendered pictures (yeah, that’s an X-wing, in case you’re wondering).
So yeah, let me get one point clear, you can use to to produce some conceptual renderings and you can export them by hitting the Screenshot button on the Enscape ribbon.

Enscape_misc

It’s just not the most recommended usage I would advise for.

Here is my top 5, anyway. Just take your pick.

1. design review. You get to roam around in your model (literally, if you have a device like an oculus, but more on that later) and you can check everything, you can crawl through vent pipes like Bruce Willis and fly over buildings like Magneto. And take screenshots of what doesn’t look right, for your team to fix it.

2. virtual reality. Once you have a bullet-proof model (good luck with that) you might want to put your client into an oculus and tell him “come on, try it out” (meaning the building).

3. check variations and options. You should know it, by now, as we keep repeating it: there is a world of possibilities to explore while you’re working in BIM. Enscape allows you to render infinite variations as it keeps contact with your model: you can move things in Revit and see the effect in Enscape. Real time. Like for real. Seriously.

4. work-in-progress renderings. Ok, I’ll say it: if Albert is too busy, or if the client isn’t paying enough for his services, you might use Enscape as a replacement for him. Just remember it’s not able to cheat and isn’t half as fun, so don’t expect these things from it.

5. make your families chirp. That I never tried, but apparently you can add a sound to your families and hear it in Dolby Surround while you walk-around. Therefore you can have the BIMstore cow go moo, your x-wing will pew pew pew and your minions will be able to go bananas. And things like that. Don’t ask me where the revenue is: I don’t know. Still, it’s good.

 


 

– Thing you should know –

1. Enscape doesn’t take care of cropping, so don’t expect it to render the exact same picture you have in your pre-set 3d view. As I said, it’s not about rendering: it’s about 3d real-time walk-through rendering. Therefore the pre-set 3d view you pick is just the starting point of your navigation.

MoSF_Revit

3d view in Revit (yeah, that’s an X-Wing)

MoSF_Enscape

Same view in Enscape

2. Enscape keeps getting better. The first picture you see is a first attempt at rendering, and it might be a little bluured. Try standing still, and Enscape keeps working on the quality, up to 200 rendering cicles. You can customize how far you want to push it, with the Settings panel.

Enscape_rendering enhancement cycles

AU2016

Ooops, I might have failed to mention this, but…

speaker-badge-2016-275x250

 

There’ll be Revit and Dynamo and pirates.
I promise.

Preacher

I searched for this on the blog and nothing popped out, so it might have been during 2011, also known as The Year of the Great Black-Out (browse blog history on the right if you don’t get it). You’ll have to take my word for this: I have actually been a fan. Seriously. Ok, not a hardcore fan, but in all the gazillion of comic books series about God and the Devil, Preacher ranks in my top 5.
Therefore I was excited when I heard about the tv series. Spoilers in white as usual. RSS feed readers be warned.

preacher

Now, if you haven’t read the comic books, allow me to make a disclaimer: Preacher is something coming out from the minds of by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, and therefore is not a reading for sensitive people. It’s graphical, to say the least, and with the specific mission to get to your stomach. It’s about one Jesse Custer, former thug and now useless preacher in a small mean town of southern USA, who gets possessed by a semi-angelic, semi-demonic child-like entity named Genesis. This entity empowers him with “the voice”, i.e. the power of having people do whatever he tells them to do, taking him literally, no matter how crazy and self-destructive the instruction might be. To spice things up, Jessie gets reunited with his former adventure pal and girlfriendTulip O’Hare, a lady who knows how to make a bazooka with duct tape and a can of beans, and enjoys doing so. As if this wasn’t enough, the couple travels with Cassidy, an alcooholic Irish vampire. Their goal? To find God. And I don’t mean it in the metaphorical sense.

Preacher is a series of 66 issues (no kidding) plus an additional bunch to reach 75, and was written over e span of 5 years, from 1995 to 2000. It has a rich pantheon of surreal characters, both from the natural and the supernatural world, a dark setting and even darker twists. It’s gonna be fun to see how they’ll be able to keep up with it.

22.06.2016

Lots of you people already know why I’m being silent, this week.

Last Wednesday, while she was walking in the mountains with my father as they used to do, my mother slipped, and fell alongside a cliff. Nothing could be done to save her. She died on Friday 24th, in Como.
I like to think she didn’t realize what was happening, and that she died happily in the place she loved most, in the arms of the man she loved more than anything.

We’re bidding her farewell tomorrow, early afternoon, in Santa Maria di Caravaggio, Milano.
Thanks to all my friends, so kind and affectionate in this difficoult moment.

Just a tiny experiment with Flux.io

a.k.a. how the hell did you manage without Flux all this time?

When it comes to software and architecture, you have software that is considered to be cool and software with popularity issues. As a recently published case study demonstrates, Rhino and Grasshopper are still considered to be cool, but like medium-cool, like that chick who used to be the most beautiful in college but now has to continuously say how ugly that girl from 1st grade is. Now, Revit might not be a girl from 1st grade, but I like to think that its popularity is rising also among the computational freaks (I love you guys) also thanks to Dynamo.
But I digress.
My original point was that yes, you have software with popularity issues.
And then you have Flux.

flux logo

 

Flux has everything.
It’s aesthetically appealing for all those architects out there, and it has amazing interface.
It’s free.
And it’s Google.

flux disclaimer

 

I’ll walk you through it, and then you’ll tell me if you’ll ever be able to work without it again, deal?
What I am not going to do is explaining how Flux works at a very basic software level. For that, you have this article by incredible blogger Andrew Ray and there really isn’t a better way to explain it.
What I am going to do, though, is provide you with a real-life situation and explore with you how Flux might have been used.
Nothing too serious, I promise.
And there’ll be at least one kitten.

 


 

1. Start with a brief

When it comes to architecture, you so rarely start with an idea. What you start with, is a brief. A serious brief is usually made up of a complex system of data, and if you managed to hear us speaking lately you might remember how much we would like for this data to be organized in some shape that we can feed Revit with.
Now, for this little test I took a very simple brief.

As some of you might remember, a while ago I did the project coordination for the renovation of the Factory Museum for one of Italy’s most known and loved design companies. They make plastic chairs unsuitable for your garden, if you get my drift.

kartell_museo_stanza12_05

At a certain (late) point of the project, an additional request came from the client and we had a little trouble to absorb it, being completely engaged in other activities. On the wall of the museum cafè, the client wanted to exhibit some of the prices the Company had won during the years, and they were like 60 exhibits, in different dimensions and shapes, to be put into frame and organized in a composition. Now, drawing 60 rectangles in Vectorworks and associate them with their picture is long and boring. In Revit (with a little help from Dynamo and a couple of beers) all I had to do was creating one single parametric family, and work on a script that looked a little bit like the one below.

script

Me and my Dynamo script, taking a break.

In this, Flux is not game-changing, meaning that it doesn’t do anything you weren’t able to do before with a little creativity.

Still.

 

Let’s say that you have an Excel list of 60 items with information such as item measurements and descriptions. As usual and even if I’m stating the obvious, first of all you should check that each column contains one and only one information. See for instance the screenshot below.

measurements not usable

Column contains more than one parameter: this data is not usable

measurements usable

Each column contains one single parameter: this is the correct method for a specification sheet

Another thing you should look for, is the presence of merged cells. Merged cells look pretty but don’t play well with practical usage of data. It doesn’t matter that you have the same text twice: nobody will care if your table looks nice but it’s not usable as a source of data. Trust me. Again, see screenshot below.

Very pretty, almost useless

Very pretty, almost useless

Might look redundant, but this is how I want it

Might look redundant, but this is how I want it


 

2. Set up your Flux project

Time to get into Flux.

Once you’ve registered (easy as pie), setting up a new project is equally easy.

Flux - New Project

Just push the big grey button.

 

Now your project needs to be filled up with Keys. You might want to start by creating one key for each column you have in your spreadsheet. Just saying.

Flux - Create Key

 


 

3. Throw the brief into Flux

Once you’ve polished your data within Excel and created all your Keys within Flux, all you should do is install the Flux plug-in for Excel. It’s free and it provides you with an additional tab in your Excel sheet.

 

Flux - Excel tab

 

You might notice a button that says “To Flux”.
Provided you already registered and created a project (come on, it’s not that difficoult), you get a window in which you can:
– specify the data range, so you don’t have to create specific pivot sheets in order to send your data to Revit: you can specify a range of cells (absolute or relative using $, as always happens in Excel);
– select your Flux project name among a drop-down list;
– specify a Key name among another drop-down list.
Now, Keys are to be regarded as the blocks of a visual scripting. If you’re unfamiliar with what I’m referring to, I suggest you check the Tutorial for Beginners.

Recall that data keys are the means by which external applications can send and receive data with a Flux project.

Anyway, just remember that you need to send data to an existing key and you can’t create them from the Excel menu. If you try to do so, by manually writing a new name instead of selecting an existing Key, you’ll get the error below.

error connection

 

Edit: as they correctly pointed out on Twitter, you actually can create new keys by selecting the correct option. My bad.

What you’ll also be asked to say if data should constantly flow from your Excel sheet to Flux or if you want to update manually each time you feel like doing it.

Excel - Send to Flux

Your side tab will get “populated” with connections and you’ll be able to refresh them at any time by moving your mouse over it.

Excel - Flux Excel - Flux mouseover


 

4. Check what’s happening

What you’ll get in Flux is something that looks a little bit like the screenshot below. You have basically uploaded your list of values into what Flux calls an “array”. The little symbol on the lower right of the key indicates where those value come from. If you drop keys into the data window, you’ll get a preview of their values, like the one below.

Flux Key Preview - height

You also have the option to download your set of data in JSON format and… oh, come on, don’t panic. As a Revit user you should be familiar with the XML format Revit uses to export some of your schedules and reports. JSON is just a competitor format who works in the same way.

Just keep in mind that the Data tab is just a preview tab. Nothing gets done here.

The Flow tab is to get things done so let’s get something done, ok?

Flux - Data vs Flow

 


4. From Flux to Revit (via your next best friend)

Yes, you need to use Dynamo. Therefore you need to install it (obviously) and to install the related plug-in. You’ll get a whole new set of nodes, looking like this.

Flux - Dynamo

They work in a very basic way: each time you need to do something, you need to set the category of what you’d like to act on (project or key, for instance) and then select it from one list.
For instance, this is what the sequence looks like if I want to pull from flux all the values associated with the Width of the frames.

Dynamo - Pulling from Flux

Now, you might need to do a little thing first and you can either do it in Flux or in Dynamo, and this little thing is to flatten your list. I don’t know how to make it simple if you’re not familiar with the concept, but I’ll try. Just take a look at what Flux does, given the original list as an input and the instruction to flatten it as “instruction”.

Flux - Flatten list

Clear, right?

Once you’ve performed an instruction such as this, you can take the new “key” (Flatten Width, in this case) and send it to an exhisting data table. The corresponding key will get the blue icon of Flux, meaning it’s a set of information you’ve compiled directly in Flux.

Flux - native key

In Dynamo, you have the List.Flatten node. Same thing.

List Flatten

 

I personally suggest you do it in Flux: I’ll explain the reasons later.


 

5. Feed the parameters

Now, I was at this point. Frames were placed automatically based on the number of rows in the excel, with another script I can’t disclose. You can place them with a simple array: no issue there.

Wall - all even

 

Families have instance parameters for Width and Height. I feed them values from Flux. They change shape. Magic.

Wall - compiled

All you need now is somebody to play around with them, and you’ll get this.

museo Kartell - trophies wall

museo Kartell - trophies

The nice thing is that you can provide your designers with a set of families already in the right shape and size. They don’t need to do data entry. Things are smoother, everybody’s happier.


 

6. Why not just Dynamo?

Now, I know what you’re thinking. It’s nothing you couldn’t do without Dynamo itself. Correct. You have the Excel read from file and write to file nodes. I believe I’ve displayed a couple of uses before.

.Dynamo - Excel read write Dynamo - Excel read from file.

Why I prefer Flux, you ask?
Well, for instance the Excel.ReadFromFile nodes asks you to remember stuff, and you know how bad I remember at that. Flux is actually integrated with Excel and Dynamo: you can select existing stuff instead of trying to remember what they were called like.

Second and most important, it’s like having Dynamo in the cloud. And to me this is one huge piece of improvement.

And what if I told you that you can manage the whole process within Flux, including the family creation? Just take a look at the Revit portion of Flux library.

Flux Block - Revit Create Family

Faceflipped and Handflipped functions, easy to understand. I might actually cry.

 

example

One example of geometry creation from the Getting Started page.

 


 

7. Going back: from Revit to Flux

What I intentionally showed you is a hybrid workflow: a little bit of Excel, a little bit of Flux, a little bit of Dynamo and then Revit.
With the Revit plugin for Flux, you can actually drop a lot of workarounds, including Dynamo. Let’s say you like to export data from a set of families, and let’s say they are some of the pieces on display in that very museum I was talking about before.

Who's afraid of a bunch of chairs?

Who’s afraid of a bunch of chairs?

Install the plug-in and you’ll get an additional tab, as usual.

Revit - Flux tab

What’s very interesting is the window you’ll get when you push the “To Flux” button.

Revit - Send to Flux

You can set up the elements you want to send to Flux (let’s say, all elements within the “Furniture” category”), and then the Project and Key you want to set data to.

Within Flux, you’ll get a key with the Revit logo. It’s pink. Don’t ask me why.

Flux - Product Name

This data key will be seen from Excel when you pull data from Flux.

Bottom line: you can send data from Revit to Excel without Dynamo and without any plug-in.
You can control multiple Excel sheets connected to your Revit model, all from the same web interface.
In this situation, I used it to connect the prices to the actual items the prices were won for. And to export everything to a single Excel sheet mapping the museum catalogue. Ultimately this could become the actual museum catalogue, interactive in the real sense.

Kartell Book

 

And we might really have something usable by the Facility Management, something that can be thrown back into our Revit model without them even knowing it.

A whole world of new opportunities opens up.
And it’s for free.

PS: if you haven’t seen the museum, go and see it. It’s amazing. And equally for free.

kartell_museo_stanza11_01

18.06 – BIM a Salerno

Avete sempre desiderato venire a sentirci parlare di BIM a Milano, ma il tempo è sempre troppo uggioso per i vostri gusti?

1. Ogni tanto c’è il sole anche qui;
2. Questo week-end abbiamo l’occasione che fa per voi.

Sabato 18 mattina, presso l’Aula delle Lauree di Ingegneria dell’Università degli Studi di Salerno, parteciperemo al seminario I modelli BIM per la progettazione, gestione e tutela dell’architettura, organizzato dall’Ordine degli Ingegneri della Provincia di Salerno, dal Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile dell’università e dall’Ordine degli ingegneri della provincia di Avellino, in collaborazione con la Fondazione Ordine degli Ingegneri di Salerno.

L’abbondanza del patrimonio edilizio esistente rispetto alla richiesta abitativa costringe, di fatto, gli attori del settore
edile a una presa di coscienza circa l’importanza di stabilire nuove strategie di progettazione e di gestione degli
stessi immobili. Le esigenze di rinnovo di queste infrastrutture civili è superiore rispetto alla necessità di
realizzazioni ex-novo. In tale scenario, il Building Information Modeling può rappresentare un valido strumento di
progettazione, gestione e tutela del patrimonio edilizio esistente e delle architetture in divenire. L’obiettivo di questo
seminario è quello di illustrare le principali strategie finora messe in atto, mediante la presentazione di ricerche
applicate a significativi casi studio.

Saremo gli ultimi a parlare, intorno alle 12:00, ma non fate i maleducati e presentatevi per l’apertura dei lavori.
Vi promettiamo che magari da noi non capirete come fare BIM per la conservazione del patrimonio storico, ma capirete come collaborare a un processo BIM quando vi succederà.
Perché vi succederà.

sabato 18 giugno
ore 9:00
Università degli Studi di Salerno
(che, lo ricordiamo, non è a Salerno)
Non mancate.

Locandina - BIM - REV06

Hurricanes – Rams: 19-26

image

…ed è semifinale di conference! Let’s go Rams.