Sunday, February 18, 2018


Running short of time so I will attempt a quick one.

I've spent a couple more weekends moving from space to space through the Directors Parlours bringing up the layers of detail.  Centre Hall is what its name implies, the space that links together the rooms where all the major decisions were made: Governor's Office, Deputy Governor, Court Room, Committee Room.  Lots of interesting Family Editor challenges.  The coffered arch with ceiling roses is one I'd like to explain in detail when I have the time.

Beyond the Centre Hall is another impressive circulation space, the Rustic Lobby.  Like the Centre Hall, there are coffered arches either side of a lofty central volume.  But instead of a groin vault you get a tower with top lighting.  And of course the walls are rusticated, hence the name.  Working my way through these spaces I get a tremendous feel for the way Soane could ring the changes.  Notice the different treatment of the coffered arch motif.

As you know, I'm not alone in this task.  A couple of active collaborators chipping in at the moment. The next image is one that I shared to Slack to explain some of the available tasks, and how they fit into the scheme of things, the functional arrangement of spaces.  X marks the spot ... an open court with toilet cubicles. 

This whole area is a terrific sequence of spaces, opening up and closing down, letting in light from all kinds of angles, arches, domes, vaults ...  I'm really excited by the way it's starting to shape up now, culmination of two and a half years of dogged effort (off and on)

To say I've learned a lot is a huge understatement.  Modelling challenges, history of capitalism, spatial creativity, Soane's vision of classical abstracted modernity.  Sometimes it's appropriate to use parametric families, formulas, nesting.  Sometimes simple direct modelling does the trick.  Take this groin vault for example.  It's a one off situation: four extrusions, two solid & two void.

That was for the lobby leading in to the Entrance Hall, a space designed by Soane's predecessor, Taylor.  Very easy to spot the difference, much more heavy-handed decoration. (my bias is showing)  You get a glimpse of some of the more elaborate families here, no parametrics really, but a good deal of complexity and nesting.

Still a fair bit of work to do.  The clock and the fireplace are simple placeholders, to be developed further by "others".  There are some tricky door families to add also, two of them matching, with semi-circular fanlights: one a real door, the other blind ... or maybe a cupboard.

This weekend I moved on to the Court Room, also by Taylor and heavily decorated.  The heavy plaster cornices are sweeps, modelled in place.  This is a pretty good example of a situation where modelling in place is the only realistic option.  These days you can do a lot more stuff in a perspective view.  It was my first attempt to edit a sweep profile in perspective though.  Quite impressive.  Can't wait for the long awaited free perspective navigation now (aka "Do Not Crop View")

Much of the weekend has been spent building decorative plaster panels: wall based and ceiling based.  They may look like they are finished, but believe me they are fairly crudely modeled at present.  Lots of scope for collaborators to step in here.

The families are all packaged up in folders on a Box account.  It's an interesting exercise in collaborative work in an educational context.  Starting to get a good process going.

That process includes the super laptop HP gave me for my work in the original competition (thanks Sean) access to A360 and C4R (thanks Kyle) a license for Enscape3d (thanks Guys) and of course the wonders of "free" cloud services (Slack and Box)

Saturday, February 3, 2018


Another weekend, and looking forward to preparing more packaged tasks for collaborators on Project Soane to tackle.  First off I checked out the Box folder where all the shared reference material resides along with the families we are currently working on.  I knew from a Slack message that the large lunette windows of the Central Hall had been updated with glazing bars in a radial pattern, so I loaded this family back into the main model on C4R

At first glance it looks fine, but zooming in I notice that the glazing bars have come adrift from the glass.  Opening it up in Family Editor, everything seems fine, but of course the wall thickness is not the same, so change this from 6" to 12" and you reproduce the issue in the main model.

Easy to fix, just associate the sweeps with an appropriate work plane ... but no, that option is not available. Edit sweep and it's clear that the path was created using "pick 3d edges".  I had advocated drafting this pattern out in lines to get the proportions right, then proceeding to model sweeps.  Hadn't thought about discussing the difference between model lines and symbolic lines, or the two ways of picking a line to generate a sweep path.

Problem is that the model lines that were "picked" to generate the paths have now been deleted.  They would originally have been drawn on a plane.  Going into a side there is a plane called "Glass Surface" which seems to be the one, so I tried a bit of reverse logic, associating the frame and glass with this plane and adjusting their start and end offsets

Now I can also add a "setback" parameter to move the plane and the geometry should move along with it, allowing us to adjust the position of the window within the thickness of the wall. 

Forlorn hope.  The sweeps have no idea that they were once tied to this plane via model lines that are long gone.  Even if you lock the geometry to the plane it's not happy.  Breaks as soon as you change the setback.

Never mind. let's just lock that parameter at 4" and load it back.  Well it's fine on one side, but the wall on the other side is a different thickness for whatever reason and the glazing bars are floating off into space again.

So there's no option really but to create new sweeps.  (You can't convert a 3d pick into a sketch.)  So I set myself up to draw symbolic lines as a guide.  Going into Object Styles I chose the last subcategory and set it to Red, then started drawing.  It soon became apparent that there were deeper issues to be dealt with.

The smallest arc is not concentric with the others, and all of the arc centres are well below the sill line.  This comes from my original setting out of the opening size and shape over a year ago. Didn't seem to be problematic until we added the glazing bars. 

This space has a groin vault in the middle, and shallow barrel vaults (or deep arches if you prefer) at the sides.  The sides are formed by a wall hosted family which includes the Ionic columns.
I think perhaps I created this before I had fully defined the entablature profile.  Probably this got deeper when I looked at the source material more carefully and this meant cutting about 3 inches off the bottom of the window.  So I decided to raise all the vaults by 3" and adjust the window to match.
The groin vault just moves up.  Increase its offset value. 

The wall hosted arch family needs more work.  I noticed that there is a parameter for the shoulder height (springing point) of the arch, but adjusting this creates a gap above the Ionic capital.  Edit the opening cut to compensate, and while I'm at it, why not add a locked reference plane to keep this stationary while "Shoulder Ht" flexes?

All fine now, with a wider margin above the window ready for it to be updated.  That's easily achieved by editing the void cut, frame and glass: moving the arc segments up 3" in each case.  No parameters to worry about, it's intended as a one-off family, fixed size.  Now I can start sketching.

The reference photo we have is difficult to interpret.  Seems like extra glazing bars have been added and viewed from below the bottom is cut off and the perspective skewed.  I decided to take a look at the Dividend Office, which has similar glazing pattern.  Here we have 9 radial divisions, which is easy: 20 degrees each.

 But in the Centre Hall, we have 7.  After a bit of trial and error I voted for 5 x 25 degrees, with larger angles at the ends, next to the sill.  This compensates for the thickness of the outer frame.  So I set out a kind of skeletal framework, using drafting lines in 2d space.  Actually a spider's web seems to be a better metaphor.

Now to build sweeps.  Instead of using Pick Path, which would base the work plane on a picked 3d object, I go for Sketch Path.  Not to worry t

here is still a pick option at the next step.  But now the path is not tied to the object that was picked, so the resulting sweep can be associated with a new work plane later on if you so desire.

My desire is to use the aforementioned "Glass Surface" ref plane ... which is already controlled by  instance parameter "Setback".  I opted for instance because the walls at either side of the room that host these windows have different thicknesses.  Easy for me to adjust the location of each window relative to the wall faces.

I created the first radial bar, made its subcategory "Frame/Mullion", associated it with a material parameter, then mirrored it around using the red lines as reflection planes.  Copy one of these to one side, edit path, pick a curve and delete the straight line.  Slightly faster than creating a new sweep from scratch, because the subcategory and material are already defined.

Before completing the entire pattern I decide to test it out in the project environment.  Load it up, change the setback, all good.  And now it strikes me that my job is done.  I can save it back into the Box folder, write up a little post and let my collaborator finish it off.  I'm quite chuffed because I'm now seeing Project Soane as a useful vehicle for teaching basic Family Editor skills and sharing that process with the wider Revit community.

There are lots of interesting challenges here and they will surely generate all kinds of interesting topics for blog posts.  That's what I've been doing since the beginning of course, but the difference here is that I'm starting to see things through the eyes of someone less experienced.  That's the value of a collaborative team with different skill levels.  It's bound to throw up examples of knowledge sharing that will be useful to others.  Oh, and don't forget to test the Setback parameter.

By the way, notice the shadows on the wall.  Soane was master of effects of light and those spider's webs drifting across the moulded plaster panels must have delighted him.

Sunday, January 28, 2018


Another weekend almost gone.  Going to do a quick report.  I started with the corridor outside the two waiting rooms.  This is a nice shapshot.

It shows kind of a before and after (left and right) as I started to refine the section based on Troup's survey drawings from just before the Bank was demolished in the 1920s.  Also on show the windows to the waiting rooms, worked up by my Canadian collaborator, and just a hint of the two skylights courtesy of Matt in the UK.  Zooming in you can see that I've started to add ceilings and an embryonic slit window family to be fitted out in Canada.

You can also make out the roof slopes and the gutter which I guess leads to a downpipe embedded in the wall and down to the cellars where I guess it will eventually join the Walbrook, an ancient stream that was culverted and still flows under the Bank, to this day.  Note how the slit window is sneaked in at high level, bouncing light down into the corridor indirectly. 

The side walls of the corridor were plastered to look like coursed stone.  I have created Generic Model families for this which show up as solid grey.  Looking for volunteers to create the pattern of joints.  Also need someone to make a family for the ceiling coffer, with a plaster rosette in the middle.

For such a small narrow space, Soane has gone to extraordinary trouble to articulate it volumetrically and to introduce dramatic lighting.  Here you can see the plaster lining below the landing which is especially elaborate.  I decided to take this challenge on myself.  It uses a generous coved cornice to support a typical Soane shallow canopy dome.  There's quite a bit of detail to add yet, I just made a start with the cartouche in the segmental arches below the dome.  Let's see what Enscape3d makes of this space.

I think that captures the lighting effects quite well, and the sense of leading up to an important space ahead.  That would be the Centre Hall, which gives access to the Governor and Deputy Governor's Offices.  This is a grand, high vaulted chamber with 4 substantial Ionic columns.  The plaster panelling to the walls was roughly mapped out with simple square mouldings.  I've added more accurate profiles based on the record photos by Frank Yerbury, and added the panels in the arched recesses over the doors.  Also started insert dentils into the entablature moulding (it's a railing family)

The model is getting quite big and was starting to respond sluggishly, so I decided it was high time to implement worksets.  Should have done that long ago to be honest.
Started by creating worksets for all the linked files then one for the site context (simple extrusions modelled in place to represent the surrounding streets and churches)

Also made a workset for the four transfer halls and the Rotunda, all of which I had modelled as rather large, elaborate families.  I have to confess that I haven't yet got around to linking in Alberto's excellent model of the Bank Stock Office.  Must do that now I have a workset system in place.  Finally I decided to create a workset for the cellars that act as a brick-vaulted undercroft to the superstructure.  Isolating walls quickly showed that some of them extended upwards and needed to be split. 

I decided it would also be sensible to put the topography and pads in their own workset.  Yellow is basically interior flooring, and grey exterior courtyards.
Having isolated the cellars in their own workset (transparent pink objects are families that represent brick groin vaults) I spent a bit of time improving this area of the model: extending walls, adding archways from space to space, placing more vaults. 

There's quite a good drawing to guide this walk in the online archive, but being hand-drawn it doesn't quite map perfectly to the model.  I've used a bit of poetic license here and there to reconcile the two.
So back to the Centre Hall, (and the model is much more responsive now, with most of the worksets closed)  I like this cutaway axo which shows the Waiting Rooms and the Corridor leading up into the grandeur of the Centre Hall.

I'm waiting on my collaborators to upgrade the impressive lunette windows and the fireplace.  Also there are coffers missing from the side arches but still, it's shaping up quite nicely when viewed with Enscape3d.