Thursday, February 22, 2007

Parametric Ceiling in ADT 2006/2007

Unfortunately I did not have the pleasure of attending the last AU for various reasons, of which being busy was the most important one, but a presentation handout was delivered to me by a colleague, titled Extreme Architecture.... Interesting concept, almost like Microsoft marketing Word for Extreme Poetry. I just hope that there will be some more thoughtful attempts to depict what we as architect can do when converting an abstract thought into a materialized reality, regardless to which tools we use.

Back on tangent.

Here is an example of a not so extreme but quite useful application of the parametric capability the ADT has. The anchoring tools in conjunction with walls, mass elements and grids will be used to create adjustable (parametric) coffered ceilings.
First I would like to begin by mentioning the AecCellAnchor command which can be used to distribute an AEC object by placing it within the AEC grid object's cells. This turns out to be a quite useful and obscure command that exploits the parametric nature of ADT 's database functionality by enabling the user to link object location and AEC grid location including spacing and scaling. After reading a really interesting tutorial by Archidigm on how to build a coffered ceiling by using the Curtain wall object , I had an opportunity to try this technique on a project with a beautiful cast in place concrete ceiling in an existing historic building. The Client interest in obtaining a rendering of the new program and depicting this ceiling as accurately as possible was essential for us to start thinking about the most flexible and fastest way to create and possibly tweak the new geometry.

The idiosyncrasy of the previously mentioned technique that did not work quite well in this particular case was the rather structured procedure for adjusting a curtain wall based grid to match the irregular grid of the existing building. And then this idea was born...

For a long time I have been using AEC anchor tools for controlled distribution of miscellaneous MV blocks, seating assemblies and parametric relationship between walls in ADT projects.

Combining AEC anchoring tools and extremely versatile Mass Object on non printable layer (s) via interference condition that can be applied to AecWalls became the standard for creating complex volumetric relationships between building skin, partitions and structure.

As this example was written for ADT 2006 it uses a variable with wall object in lieu of slab object that acquired interference capability in ADT 2007, but in 2007 version of this tutorial one can have a multi - material version of a coffered ceiling.

The first step is to create a new wall style and for the sake of this tutorial I
named it AecWallCeiling that should be associated with a new Wall Cleanup Style named AecCeiling.

If the ceiling in your project is at 9' create a wall style that has the Wall Baseline offset set at 9' and default wall height of 10'. When this is accomplished, place a new wall based on the previously mentioned style, in between the walls that are representing room's boundaries, and adjust its width to match the width of a room.

The next step is to create a mass object that will represent a "negative" of the that
particular coffered ceiling that you are working on. For this purpose I have created a relatively simple mass object an in order to control its polygon count and ability to approximate smooth radius I have adjusted the FacetRes Variable to 0.0625.

When this is completed go ahead and align a parametric AEC grid with the location
(height) and boundaries of AecWallCeiling Object.

Now before you anchor the Mass Object negative to the grid, let's stop for a moment and think what could be an added bonus feature of this technique. AEC Grid has the ability to scale the AEC Mass object within the boundaries of the each individual cell, but what if we intend for this object to be just a little bit more interactive and grid independent, let's say that we would like to change its dimensional characteristics and appearance and propagate that change through each object instance within that AEC grid defined pattern.

Here is the point where ADT can surprise you again. Its ability to create a reference of an object in a similar way to VIZ or Max , is quite a tool in your arsenal of ADT skills, and especially when you work with multiple repetitive objects, like trims and moldings.

Locating Mass Element Negative in respect to the grid.

Go ahead and type AecEntRefAdd, use the center (m2p) of your mass object as the insertion point and create a new reference object. This new object will now have to be associated with the AEC grid in the following manner. Type _AecCellAnchor and first select the reference object that will be anchored to a cell within the layout grid, and then select the grid to which we will anchor this object. While the command is still active and after the first cell has been populated, type "C" for copy and again select the the same reference object and then the grid. When prompted whether to skip those cells that are already populated, chose Yes and let ADT will do the rest.

Place the "negatives" in the desired location within the AEC grid. Select the wall
object that is being used as a ceiling slab, chose the interference option from the context short cut menu and select all of the "negative" references of the original mass object. Turn the nonprintable layer that is hosting "negatives" off. The layer approach was the quickest solution for the sake of this tutorial. Better results can be achieved by creating a Mass Object Style whose corresponding material will be invisible in reflected ceiling plan or model view, but that is a topic for another tutorial.

I need to mention that all of these tools have existed as the core functionality of ADT in one way or another since version 3.3, but like with any other application it takes some time and dedication and some creative thinking to make them work. Now if you think that your project requirements have outgrown the capacity of the software you currently use, think again and see if there are some other features or techniques that were neglected over time that are worth implementing, before your reseller tells you that it's shopping time again.

This is the rendering depicting the effectiveness of previously mentioned procedure and if you think that this example is of any use, feel free to download this sample file and test it on one of your projects.

Until next time….