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6 May 2019
Shalini John

How Revit 3D Modelling Improved Virtual Building Design

Imagine seeing your new home designs, a large shopping complex or even a cluster of apartment buildings in precise detail. Difficult to visualise it? Not anymore. It’s no longer difficult to imagine what a fully constructed building will look like on the inside or from outside. It’s no longer difficult because of virtual building design. Virtual building design involves a digital representation of the functions of a building and what it will look like on completion. Virtual design has progressed to a point where, with the help of 3D models and building information modelling, or BIM, several design concepts can be integrated into a single 3D BIM model. Thus, BIM virtual construction enables users to have a clearer understanding of concepts compared to 2D drawings.

The Revit software platform has become a popular option for design and modelling buildings and their components in 3D. The models are annotated with 2D drafting elements and building information can be accessed from the model’s database. Entire buildings or parts of buildings can be worked on in the Revit environment. The Family Editor tool in Revit helps users manipulate individual 3D shapes, and other tools can be used to work on pre-made solid objects. Designers can create a 3D model and thereafter can get floor plans, sections, and elevations while taking shots from various perspectives. All these features were not available with traditional CAD software.

One of the most useful effects of using Revit 3D modelling is that it enables coordination and collaboration between the architectural, structural and MEP disciplines in construction. Design decisions are close to accurate, and the clash-free models that are developed help save costs and time previously spent on rework.

Employing Revit 3D modelling as part of the BIM process facilitates the creation of colour fill or 3D rendering, 3D perspectives, detailed drawings and walk-throughs. Other advantages include changes that would automatically be applied throughout the model if there is a change to a particular element. Take, for example, a wall. If the position or location of the wall is changed, all adjacent features, such as adjacent walls, roofs, floors, doors and windows, would change accordingly to accommodate the wall change. Section views would be redrawn, and placement, dimension values and notes would be amended. This makes it possible to coordinate documentation after any change. All these changes would make it easier to visualise the updated design.

One of the tools that Revit uses to model architectural objects, such as doors, windows, walls, cabinets, furniture, etc., is Family Editor, and Family Editor enables Revit family creation. In the Revit platform, all elements are part of a family and all elements fit into a hierarchy, which follows the order of: Category, Family, Type and Instance. Eg. Within the Door Category, there can be a Single Door Family or a Double Door Family. A family can contain one or more types, each with its own editable settings. Within the Single Door Family, a Type would be a Single Door 36” x 90” vision panel, and an Instance within that Type would be one unique Single Door of 36” x 90” vision panel type without a vision panel. A family is typically understood to be a group of variables (sizes, materials or other settings) with certain values and given a name so that the particular element those values define is easy to reuse. Using Revit families on large projects makes the process of visualisation easier and faster.

Essentially, virtual building design involves digital descriptions of every facet of a project. In the MEP discipline, Revit 3D modelling has much to offer. The Revit platform is flexible enough to utilise existing Revit architectural plans to develop MEP systems or rotate the systems in a choice of directions to view the building from different perspectives, helping to determine and prevent potential clashes between building systems.

The introduction of BIM technology into the construction process further helped ease the integration of different disciplines and helped develop detailed and accurate designs with minimum risks, clashes and costs. Creating Revit 3D models within the closed or open BIM environment ensures a high level of accuracy and, thus, a high level of quality. Increased collaboration and use of a central data source during the BIM process facilitates the constant availability of precise and updated information.

The process of Revit 3D modelling in a BIM environment enables collaboration between project stakeholders, since a single central data source provides updated and accurate information. Delivery and operations teams also contribute to the information available on the database, so that the virtual design developed precisely represents the progression of the project from start to finish. Revit 3D modelling in BIM can help view, prevent and solve possible design conflicts by simulating sequences and operations. Once simulated, asset management is improved, thus, in turn improving performance. Costs are reduced and high-quality services are ensured.

Virtual building design has evolved to VDC, or virtual design and construction, which is a collaborative process. Stakeholders can make changes to project design at any time, and the information is shared accurately and immediately. This enables viewing and discussion at any point of the design stage. Buyers, potential buyers and owners benefit from accurate, clash-free visualisation.

Some of Revit’s 3D modelling features that are useful for virtual building design include tools that are easy to use and can automatically place duct, pipe and containment fittings. Other benefits include:

Edit MEP Elevation

Top and bottom elevations of cable trays, ducts and conduit elements are edited directly, enabling ease of both modification and coordination.

Clash-avoidance Tools

There are tools in Revit that are easy to use and can help avoid expensive and long re-work on site. It has the option to work in Navisworks for detailed clash checks and reports.

Reduction of Requests for Information

Since the 3D model is linked directly to the project, the model can be viewed from any aspect without requiring repeated requests for information, saving time and money.

Embedded Design Data

The Revit model uses elements that have information which enable them to interact with other elements. An example would be to look at a duct run. The velocity, size and pressure drop can be checked.

Automatic Update of All Views

Any changes to the design will be seen across all other views.

Operability with Other Industry Design Applications

Revit MEP has the capability to collaborate with Dialux and Relux. It is also possible to design electrical systems using Pro Design from within Revit.

Conversion to Fabrication Level Information

You can easily change your Design level models can be changed to fabrication level models using Autodesk Fabrication CADmep.

Fabrication Level Models in Revit MEP

Revit MEP creates fabrication level models according to the industry standards of Autodesk Fabrication CADmep.

Energy Analysis

For complex buildings, Revit models can use 3D BIM modelling, 6D ‘Energy Analysis’ and 7D ‘Facility Management’.

As-built Modelling

Scan to BIM modelling services can be provided with laser scans of existing buildings in point cloud formats. Revit turns the point clouds into 3D BIM models, which can be used for renovation and retrofit, designing of new structures and demolition.

Multimonitor Support, Tabbed Views

Spaces can be improved by organising views using tabbed documents. These can be docked, tiled and viewed on multiple monitors.

3D View of Levels

Work on project datum heights can be enabled with the option to display levels in 3D.

Full Perspective Views

Users can move around freely in full-screen uncropped perspective views with navigation commands such as Zoom, Pan and Orbit.

Double-fill Patterns

Users can apply foreground and background fill patterns in cut or surface, showing design intent.

The range of 3D modelling features offered by Revit has contributed significantly to the success of virtual building design results, whether it involves Revit family creation or Revit BIM services. With the right resources for BIM virtual construction, virtual building design can only go one way – up, with improved design, prevention of conflicts, reduced costs and happy customers. The right human resources for virtual building design can be sourced overseas, producing cost-effective, accurate and timely results from teams of certified Revit professionals. Outsourcing Revit 3D modelling services is an increasingly preferable alternative in the world of virtual building design and one that has many benefits. So, with the right outsourcing partner, Revit 3D modelling provides a near-ideal framework for improved virtual building design.