Completed building project, no variations!
I was recently informed, by one of our Durban based users, that, outrageous as it may sound, his project was designed and then constructed, from his original documentation set, without any variations orders or site instructions (related to the design) being issued.
Outrageous, but TRUE! I am certain that this is largely due to his level of expertise and experience as an architect, but he was gracious enough to credit ArchiCAD for a part of this achievement.
The Architect is Eerhard Huizinga, a Durban based architect, who had migrated some years ago from the “other” CAD system, 2D, to ArchiCAD. Eerhard has developed the necessary standards and expertise in and on ArchiCAD to allow him, as a single practitioner, to design, document and supervise building projects, which are not limited to, but do include the very demanding luxury residential market for exclusive estates, such as the nearby Zimbali Coastal Resort Estate.
In this article, we will explore with Eerhard, an example of his work, exploring his approach to project work in ArchiCAD and the experiences that have brought him to the expert level that he has reached today.
GSSA: Where did you study architecture?
EH: .I studied at UKZN [ University of KwaZulu Natal School of Architecture] and graduated in 1992.
GSSA: What sparked your original interest in ArchiCAD? What made you make the change?
EH: .I was always aware of Archicad but I made the change based on 2 major factors:
1. A lot of my work is driven by simple but strong volumetric massing. A lot of my clients could not visualize the design upfront. Therefore 3D modeling was necessary.
2. The second reason was to improve the quality of my drawing documentation. I am dyslexic and have trouble with numbers as well. Although my building details were good, my cross referencing and co-ordination of dimensions was not. The documentation systems within archicad was almost more important to me than its 3d aspect.
GSSA: What are the project details of your first ZERO VARIATIONS project?
EH: .It was a new residential house for a recently retired client, at Dunkirk Estate , Salt Rock KwaZulu-Natal. Her brief was very specific and her budget was very tight. The house is a double strorey dwelling that is entered at half level to take into account a sloping site with good distant views of the sea. (It is not the project which is depicted in the graphics loaded in this project).
GSSA: What is the secret to your projects in respect of the ArchiCAD project work?
EH: .The secret is to keep the 3d building model active through out the documentation process. All the plans, elevations and 1:100 sections are model views and are not exploded views. You would be surprised how many tweaks and some times major changes are done right up until tender documentation stage. The sketch design, submission drawings also remain in model view. This project was the first in which the door & window schedules were also automated. The only 2d drawings were the large scale strip sections and some of the finishing schedules. All drawing sheet title blocks ,drawings tittles and project information was generated by Archicad. Favorites, pen settings and model views are set upfront so that the drawings read consistently through out. The land surveyor sends me a detailed electronic survey which is linked /placed directly into the project. This remains there even after the mesh has been generated. The same surveyor also sets out the building for the builder.
GSSA: How much time do you spend designing in ArchiCAD, versus drawing and documentation in ArchiCAD, versus “computer stuff” to make it all work?
EH: .Most of my design work is done on paper. I will often test things on archicad at the same time. My sketch designs are finally worked to a very high degree of detail in archicad, I unfortunately need to know that what I present, works. I know I am a bit too specific about this and the situation is not ideal, as I often present anything from 1-7 separate sketch designs.
GSSA: For you in your practice, what do you see as the main advantages to using ArchiCAD?
EH: .I can get the client to buy into the concept and design at a very early stage. So if the client makes any suggestions it is done with the understanding of what the inpact on the overall design will be. As soon as changes are made on the building model. I can generate updated 3d views, plans and elevations immediately. In the case of this project the windows where changed from wood to aluminum just before going to tender and this was done in a couple of hours, including changes to all the plans and elevations.
GSSA: How much do you model, how much do you do in 2D, how much do you reference from other sources?
EH: .Only parts of the site plan are in 2d as well as any sections larger than 1:50 ,Colour, finishes and sanitary schedules.
GSSA: How do you interact with consultants in CAD or BIM? How do you do it?
EH: .I have not worked with any Engineer or surveyor that works in BIM. I do however bring their 2d drawings into my file as worksheets so that I can overlay them to check for consistency.
GSSA: As you have had significant experience in both 2D drafting CAD systems and in ArchiCAD BIM, is 2D faster or is BIM faster and which is really more accurate?
EH: .It is much faster to draw a vector drawing in 2D. In some ways it is wrong to compare the two this way, as Archicad generates, rather than draws all its views. It is in fact a large data base that can be used to generate just about anything from 3d views , schedules, lists and if you want 2d vector drawings.
GSSA: What advice do you have for students regarding the approach they should take to BIM during their studies?
EH: .In some ways I would suggest a good understanding of hand drawing, modeling and design, before getting to grips with a 3d package.This includes 2D cad. I would however suggest they get a handle on it before they finish their studies.
GSSA: How do you interact with consultants in CAD or BIM? How do you do it?
EH: .At the moment all work with consultants and clients is done through PDF files which get printed if required. These sometimes have 2d, dwg electronic files attached. However the PDF is always official drawing.
GSSA: Are there any secrets to successful projects in BIM?
EH: .I have spent quite a bit of time setting up archicad to work for me specifically.I often see how people who are new to the program do not realize that it can be adjusted to match their current way of working. In terms of how they do their drawings , what fonts they use, their existing pen settings and drawing numbering systems etc. Most firms appear to make gradual change over from 2d cad over to BIM. I have realized that working on both systems that they can be made to work together if needed.
GSSA: Do you see yourself being able to assist other companies who are venturing into BIM?
EH: .I would be more than happy to assist in this process as well as assisting in getting Archicad to act and look exactly how they want it to.
GSSA: What did you find the most difficult in the transition process from your earlier 2D CAD system to ArchiCAD?
EH: .I will admit The transition was extremely difficult, as I was quite fast at 2d Cad and setting up the model to generate an equivalent view in 2d was then time consuming. Had I known what I know now, I would have approached it differently. I used the package initially in 2d mode and then built up my 3d working skills along side that.
GSSA: What do you do for a bit of fun?
EH: . I have riden a motor bike for over half my life, but a high speed “off” put a stop to that. I also have been paddling a surfski for 15 years. My latest passion is doing wood work, with an ultimate goal of designing and building wooden sliding seat rowing boat that I can take out to sea.
GSSA: When you get stuck in ArchiCAD, what do you do?
EH: .When I get stuck, I phone Archicad technical assistance. I used to do this a lot. Luckly I don’t have to do this as often any more.
GSSA: How did you learn and how do you learn to use ArchiCAD or new features?
EH: .I am on the maintenance plan, so I get the updates as soon as they arrive. Despite the advise I was given, I load the program straight away and convert my current projects into the new version. To my mind this is the fastest way to learn any new features.
We extend our gratitude to Eerhard for both his dedication to ArchiCAD, as well as his open and sharing attitude in not only creating this article, but general day to day learning experiences that have helped our team grow in knowledge and experience as it has him, Thank you from the “TEAM” at GRAPHISOFT SA!