So far translated into French, English and German, Polantis makes its CAD & BIM objects library available in Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Italian, Turkish, Arabic, Serbian and very soon Polish, Czech and Japanese for its users !
From now on, all the architects and professionals of the Design and Build world can find in their native language the objects of a manufacturer, which will make the integration of all these products easier in the architecture projects all arround the world.
These news confirm the ambition of Polantis since 2008 is to provide to its users the best service in both levels : the quality of the CAD & BIM objects and being aware of the needs of the AEC world.
Let us know what you think here.
More on Polantis.info:
The BIM approach
In September, 2015, Polantis put the Rector CAD and BIM products online: the “ThermoPreslab and Masonry Wall” and the “ThermoPreslab and ThermoPrewall”.
What makes the manufacturer’s products unique? A part of the system is designed in the factory (with integrated iron framework) and the concrete part is poured at the construction site.
The outcome? Easier assembly and incomparable construction quality, specifically with very strong thermal performance (no thermal bridges).
For Polantis, modeling Rector’s systems was a challenge: how do you design a multilayer object and ensure that it is perfectly adapted to the project?
Test 1: “the super product”
With Rector’s full collaboration, the team of architects in charge of the project launched a study in order to determine the best way of understanding product modeling.
First, it was understood that the walls and flooring would be treated in the same way because the construction system was the same.
Next, the teams decided to create a super product. The iron framework would be distributed automatically in the part treated: this was the insurance that the product would be represented from “the inside” with all of the elements that constitute it.
However, very quickly, the team discovered several obstacles to modeling this product.
The iron framework, which became parameter-adjustable, could not be properly integrated with complex-shaped parts and was not adaptable to all types of surfaces.
What’s more, the Rector iron framework integrates into two principal layers of the system, which could not be parameter-adjustable in Revit.
Lastly, the question was raised regarding the premier user of the products: an architect did not have any utility to exploit this super product which, in addition to being slow to load in the model, included information that was more useful in design offices.
The study therefore revealed that this product was too elaborate.
A multilayer system
In parallel to the meeting with Rector, Polantis began to collaborate with Siplast (a specialist in impermeability). As the two products are successive layers of insulation, the reflection for modeling the Siplast products was also useful for reflections on Rector products.
Similarly, the agreement was to design an .rvt format systerm in which these layers would be represented: the insulation layer, the concrete layer, etc. The iron framework would no longer be represented on 3D elements, but on 2D elements and on other visuals provided with the product when it is downloaded.
The difference between the .rvt format and the .rfa format
On a Revit project, the model is made in .rvt: it brings together all the elements of the proejct; in some respects it is the anatomy of the building. The .rvt format model includes the nomenclature, materials, parameters, geolocation…all possible information. With all this information included, it is possible to communicate with the other trades involved in the design & build chain.
An object in the .rfa format belongs in fact to a Revit family. These are objects that can be taken and then simply moved, like a window, a chair, or a lighting fixture. We talk about them in terms of family because there is an organization between such objects: some are parents while others are the children or grandchildren.
The major interest in having designed the Rector system in the .rvt format resides in the fact that it can, unlike the .rfa format, contain information in the form of text or image files.
The “I” in BIM stands for Information
For example, modeling an .rvt object lets you integrate the iron framework layer into the system, not in terms of its geometry but in terms of its information.
This proved to be particularly necessary because, for example, if it were integrated into the product in the form of a layer, without, however, its parameters set by the Polantis teams, it would be up to the architect to decide how to place the iron framework, thereby involving the architect’s liability in the event of a calculation error.
The importance of the information provided is at a maximum in the case of the Rector BIM objects: in order not to overload the digital model, the product is visually “lightened” and represented more simply, but all of its qualities, its placement mode, unique points and performance information, and standards are associated with the object at the time of downloading.
A “hub” object
In order to best exploit this informational dimension, the agreement with Rector was to conceive of the modeled systems as “hubs”:
Information on acoustic, seismic, and fire-resistance performance
The BIM for all the actors involved in construction
Ultimately, this “hub object” proposed by Rector works to serve all the users of the Design & Build chain perfectly. Here is a list of the actors who are concerned with BIM objects:
To be useful for an ever growing number of actors, the Rector BIM objects are also available for the ArchiCAD software program. The objects modeled for Allplan are currently in production by the Polantis teams.
The objective of the BIM approach
In October, 2012, Polantis put online 29 brick textures designed for Wienerberger.
This incomparable specialist in terracotta began a BIM approach for a large panel of products: from traditional colored brick to more elaborate effects, and naturally-colored materials.
The goal for Wienerberger, a leader in terracotta, was to confirm its leadership position by putting itself at the cutting edge of innovation.
The issue for the team of architects in charge of the project at Polantis was as follows: with the wall covering being the first view of a project, it was imperative to reproduce with complete accuracy the aesthetic properties of the Wienerberger products.
The documentation provided by Wienerberger
Wienerberger provided Polantis with several sources with which to work: sometimes the photograph of a part of a wall, sometimes the photograph of an area of bricks superimposed but without joints, and other times views of the building in perspective.
The first action taken by the team of architects in charge of the project was to cut out and isolate each brick present in the photograph in order to keep its specific qualities in order to continue to showcase the richness of the material.
It was also necessary to “flatten” the views in perspective so that the user could perceive in total specificity the sizes and formats of the bricks modeled.
The 3D representation
There are four types of BIM objects: the simple object (for furnishings for example), the parametric object (for a product with variable dimensions), the system (for a product composed of several elements and variable dimensions) and the texture (for wall or floor covering, for example).
Wienerberger products are textures: what was needed was to represent a wallpaper that would be applied to a given geometry.
Because the bricks could not be modeled and assembled one by one, since this would be too fastidious, the architectural team designed an infinite texture that could be applied with a click on any wall whatsoever.
An infinite texture
An architect who wishes to apply a given texture could be satisfied with cutting and pasting an image of a “brick” taken randomly from an online catalogue: the repetition would be noticeable and the resulting effect would not be natural.
The Polantis teams worked in Photoshop in order to adapt the texture in such a way that it would react like a real assembly of bricks.
The shader, a combination of layers
The term “shader” is used when there is a combination of several textures.
A well-made shader always combines 5 elements:
On the Wienerberger page presented on the Polantis platform, all of these elements are presented next to the shader so that the experienced user can have a glimpse of what is found in the .zip he or she downloads.
This information allows prescribers to obtain in detail how the shader to be applied to projects is composed.
The final informational element accompanying the shader is a view from the Wienerberger catalogue: this will allow the user to note the absoluteness of the resemblance between the given file and the real object.
Exchanges with Wienerberger
The work of the Polantis architects was validated after a meticulous study by teams working with this specialist in terracotta. The attention on the part of the manufacturer was above all devoted to the realistic effect of the shaders. Certain elements had to be modified:
The architect and the client
These points merited a high level of interest because the architect needed the project presented to his client using his software to be highly faithful to reality, so the image and the rendering were prioritized.
This fidelity allowed the client to identify with the result and validate the project more easily.
In the case of BIM, it is commonly said that the digital model allows one to “build before building”, so to present an object with realistic aesthetic qualities helps the architect and his client engage in more constructive exchanges.
BIM or “Building Information Modeling” has so many definitions it is almost ridiculous. Some don’t even define BIM as “Building Information Modeling” but rather as “Building Information Model” or “Building Information Management”. Many organizations, software editors and individuals claim to be the “true inventors” or “true initiators” of BIM. Some insist they were the first to know about BIM and know best how to use it.
God forbid, if you seek the answer in Wikipedia, you’ll most probably regret it. It fails to explain this multi-faceted and vast concept and settles for a bland, general and vague definition of what BIM is.
Luckily, BIM is actually something quite simple to grasp if you’re an AEC manufacturer. Most existing BIM ‘explainers’ are directed at architects or at the clients of building projects. In this post however, I’m going to explain what BIM is from the AEC manufacturer’s point of view.
The easiest way to quickly grasp what BIM is, is to first understand what a BIM object is and then understand what this kind of object is good for, and the best way to understand it is:
A BIM object functions as a recipient
And here’s a picture of a glass of water to help you remember it:
The glass itself represents a 3D model or any other kind of what is commonly called “Geometry” which basically means a 2D or 3D shape of SOMETHING
The water inside it represents INFORMATION ABOUT THE SOMETHING
And as you can see, the “water” adopts the shape of the object it is contained in. That is it. Simply put, a BIM object is a 3D geometry that contains information about it’s essence.
Now, if you are an AEC manufacturer all you have to do is imagine one of your products instead of the glass of water shown above. Your product could obviously be described geometrically (i.e – modeled in 3D) and you could probably also say lots of things about that product of yours. Let’s imagine for the sake of the example that your product is an automatic door instead of that glass:
This door has a certain shape, a width, a length, a thickness and several parts – this is its GEOMETRY.
It probably comes in different sizes and proportions to fit different types of openings – this is PARAMETRICAL information.
It also has different materials, (wood, metal, rubber, trans-lucid or transparent glass, plastic etc.) It replies to some norms and standards and is classified under a certain reference or catalog number. It is also manufactured by someone (you) and you have a phone number and an address where you (or your sales / technical force) can be reached. All of this is essential information.
If this automatic door is a BIM object then all of this information (parametric or not) is simply INTEGRATED into the geometry of the 3D object.
You probably understand by now what all of this is good for. The ability to integrate information into a parametric 3D object is a great thing. It allows the architects and any other AEC professionals (quantity surveyors, engineers…) involved in the conception of a building – to conceive a building with hundreds of such intelligent “building blocks”. Each block is “self aware” of what it is and each interacts with all the other elements of said building. For example, this door integrates into a wall somewhere in the project. The wall itself contains information about its thickness, it’s function (supporting or just separation of spaces) insulation, the dimensions of its openings etc. The wall might be “sitting” on a concrete slab covered with tiles of a certain shape and color etc etc. All of these BIM components together make a BIM MODEL and this intelligent BIM model is the basis to what BIM is all about.
Because, as soon as you have a BIM model, you can do many things. First, YOU CAN EDIT it really easily. For example, if you have a staircase in between two concrete slabs and you decide that you want the room’s ceiling to be higher all you have to do is increase the distance between those two slabs of yours, the staircase will respond automatically as it “knows” that it is connecting two floors and the BIM object that is this staircase will add extra stairs to itself and an extra length of railing to go along with it.
Second, this magical BIM model can provide you with tons of useful information that YOU CAN QUERY with a few clicks. In most BIM software you can get a detailed listing or nomenclature about all of the components that make your building. Not only how many square meters or yards it has but also how many doors, windows, chairs, and lamps it contains. This of course is very helpful if you’re an architect or a client.
If you are the person in charge of the maintenance of the building that is going to be built you could easily know how many pots of painting you’d have to purchase and when to refurbish it etc. A good BIM model will ensure EASY MAINTENANCE.
a BIM model is good for many other things as well, an engineer could use the model to make sure there are NO CLASHES that could occur during construction (For example: Part of the underground parking is built where a city sewage pipe passes or an air conditioning tube that goes right through where an electric installation is supposed to be)
This, in sum is all you, as an AEC Manufacturer need to know about BIM. Building information modeling is just that – a method that allows the entire supply chain of a building to better communicate with each other and access information about the thing they build when they need it. It makes life easier on everyone from the architect to the client and it all starts with a little BIM object that you provide the architect. This little BIM object is by far your best salesman as it tells your story, it showcases your competence and you wealth of knowledge and ingenuity.
“Now regard this pure white sheet of paper! It is ready for recording the logic of the plan. T-square, triangle, scale – seductive invitation lying upon the spotless surface. Temptation!
“Boy! Go tell Black Kelly to make a blaze there in the work-room fireplace! Ask Brown Sadie if it’s too late to have Baked Bermudas for supper! Then go ask your Mother – I shall hear her in here – To play something – Bach prefered, or Beethoven if she prefers.”
Now comes to brood – to suffer doubt, hesitate yet burn with eagerness. To test bearings and prove ground already assumed by putting all together in definite scale on paper. Preferably small scale study at first. then larger. Finally still larger scale detail studies of parts.”
Frank Lloyd Wright – An Autobiography – P. 156 – (Published – 1932)
Replace the T-Square, triangle and scale by CAD software, telemeter and a digital camera and you pretty much have the same methods today. Practicing architecture is all about proportions and scales, Architects start with an idea, a concept and they just keep on “zooming in” until the full picture comes to full effect in their imagination and of course, on their plans.
There are many methods, concepts, and “schools” to CREATE architecture, but what remains almost the same is that “coming and going” process; those constant cycles of analysis and synthesis. That, and the very final outcome: A universally readable drawing with strict rules – the execution plan.
Here are the most common phases of architectural work:
1. Getting and analyzing the program. After the contract between an architect and its client is established the architect takes the time to carefully study the program allocated. If it’s a public building, the program is usually crafted by specially trained architects and engineers providing a huge amount of norms, technical sheets and regulations to follow. In other cases, the architect builds the program along with his clients (for smaller projects usually, like private houses, cult facilities etc.)
2. First draft: 1/500 – 1/200 scale. Once the program is well defined and known to the designing team, the first drafting starts. Now methods vary: Some architects “attack” the 2D plans, sections and elevations that in due time will be transformed into the final execution plans and some start with 3D construction of volumes that will gradually become the spaces and shapes of the built project. In this very early stage few architects turn to go over manufacturers catalogs.
3. First validation by client: 1/200 – 1/100 scale. This is where things start to “get hot”… The first validation of a project’s design is always a bit stressful for the designing team. This is where the architect needs to “re-seduce” the client in some sort. In most architecture practices, this is done with plain, traditional 2D plans sections and elevations and… lots of verbal explanations. Then there are those who are more “technique savvy” – In order to make sure the client properly understands the project they use computer generated imagery like this:
Over the past few years, we’ve been witnessing a genuine increase both in the performance of 3D CAD software and in the skill and talent of young architects. Computer generated imagery is becoming more and more abundant in today’s architectural design market. This is also partly due to the fact that clients tend to demand this kind of high-end service more frequently. Those images could be easily sent by email to friends and family for them to give their opinion.
4. Second client validation and construction permit: 1/100 – 1/50 scale. No architect dares to hope that his client will be 100% satisfied of his initial design. Often, there are many modifications and changes, but the path is clearer and the team is reassured once the concept has been accepted. Now is the time to get “down to business” The design team’s work now, is to get the project approved by the authorities for construction. In most western countries, the construction permit drawings are handed in 1/50 scale with an “in-site” integration of the building (CGI again…) Like the following example:
Although in the first client validation phase, CGI is not mandatory, most competent authorities demand one, so that they could make an idea of the project’s integration impact on its surrounding environment.
5. Executation plans: Detailed 1/50 scale and some parts in 1/20 or 1/10. Finally! The project was approved by both client and the authorities now comes the final part of architectural designing where “all hell breaks loose” – This is usually where our poor design team discovers that the plumbing doesn’t perfectly fit with the foundations and that the window they chose for the hallway is no longer manufactured because the draftsman used an outdated catalog from 1988… The plans are sent back and forth to the contractors and engineers for review and there is much rejoice. It’s during this phase that most of the materials and architectural elements are specified. In some places, plans are not enough and architects actually write down – for every room and corridor – a full detailed textual description of all of the amounts and materials. At this point, the client tends to develop nostalgic feelings towards his initial budget and the days his local bank manger actually smiled at him…
6. Construction. Oh dear, now we actually have to build all that??
IMPORTANT NOTE: These 6 phases are generalized. There are lots of variations. The process I described fits the description of building for a private client. Building for governmental or other institutions is somewhat different then the described above. I’ll be happy to detail it in the comments or future posts if there’ll be a demand.
Where do YOU come in?
Well, it depends what you are manufacturing:
Usually architects work on several projects at the same time, and their phases do not overlap, how can you make sure you are reaching the designing team at the appropriate moment? Who should be your contact person? How do you find him or her? – All that and much more – in the following chapters.
Architect at work from “Catalogue modèle de l’architecte 1913” (Paris, France)
According to our estimations there are about 1.3 million active architects working in the building industry at any given time. Worldwide. You can safely double that figure if you want to include interior architects, decorators, office space planners, booth builders and other design related professionals. Those are key actors holding a “few” dozen billion dollar market.
Architects are decision makers. They are specifiers of building related goods as doctors prescribe medicine. And while pharmaceutical companies understood the later long time ago, most of the building related manufacturers didn’t seem to quite “get it” about architects. Yet.
The main reason behind that lack of comprehension is probably due to a profound misunderstanding of the architect’s work and role as a “prescriber of goods”. Here are, briefly, some points to take under account:
So how can you overcome all those points and how can you make sure you understand the relevant needs and related technology? In the upcoming posts, i will provide you with a complete overview, set of rules and guidance so you could start working and selling to architects in no time. Stay tuned.