Tuesday, March 14, 2017

3-D Models Show Clients their Design

As an architect I use Autocad LT for my drafting and a good old black Sharpie on trace paper for some of my early schematic design work, but I also like to use Google Sketch Up to create quick 3-D models of proposed designs for buildings. It's an easy program to learn, and without too much time or effort one can create a massing model and fly around it with a camera showing what a new building or addition to a building might look like.

3 dimensional models be extremely helpful for those clients who are not adept at reading the 2-D elevations that we architects draw and submit to building departments and contractors. Elevations show a (distorted from real life) flat-on view of one side of a building. It's a view, that depending on the site, a human might never really even see - a perspective view is much more realistic- and without labels, it may be unclear what each line represents.
First take a look at the drawing of the front elevation above. It's flat and it may be difficult to completely understand what all the lines around that boxed out window on the right really mean.

 Below is the small "video" I was able to easily create and save in Sketch Up which flies around my 3-D building model of this cottage, showing all sides and how the building sits on the sloped site.  The building model here is still very basic, like the line drawing above, yet because it's no longer representing only two dimensions, it is able to convey much more.

Below are final portfolio photos of the same project. (Hopefully this looks like you expected it to look, having seen the drawing and model of the design, even though the sketch was rough and not fully detailed) I think you'll agree that Sketch Up (or any 3-D model- even a physical one built from board and glue) is an advantageous tool for architects to use to communicate their ideas to clients.

Front of Building after Completion
Back of Building after Completion
Here is another animation (short video) of another model, just for fun. This model has some more detailing as far as color, materials and textures, so it looks  more realistic. This is actually the house that you see beyond and on the left in the photo above. (We ended up adding a balcony above the covered porch on the left/west of the house, which you see in the photo, but not the drawings.)

Here are the 2-D elevation drawings (front view and partial side view) showing the same project. In this example, we were exploring connecting a gable-end porch to wrap around the corner and offer weather protection over the front door. As I think you can see, the 3 dimension models are much better at showing what the changes look like than the 2 dimensional drawings.