Architizer

How architects find building-products.

Revit Live Projects Show Off New Potential for BIM and VR

Architizer Editors Architizer Editors

The latest release of Autodesk Revit Live has the AEC industry buzzing. In Sweden, architect Johannes Bergström has already put the architectural visualization cloud service powered by the 3D game engine, Stingray, to the test, integrating it into workflows and client reviews for several projects. And halfway around the world in Brazil, Igor Macedo, an electronic engineering student and beta-tester with Autodesk, is pushing the boundaries of 3D BIM-based renderings through the new integration of virtual reality (VR) with his current BIM workflow.

Courtesy Sweco Architects

From Two Weeks to Two Clicks

Johannes Bergström, construction engineer with Sweco Architects in Stockholm, received early access to Revit Live in November of 2016. “Since then, I’ve been testing it out on different projects, from really big healthcare projects to mixed-use residential and commercial.” For large-scale hospitals, a specialty of the firm, VR models have always been a preferred way of engaging with clients. By giving the future occupants the power to evaluate and explore their future spaces, the architects can better evaluate design choices for efficiency and ergonomics. Of course, the main issues with previous VR programs were always time and money.

Courtesy Sweco Architects

Bergström’s previous efforts with VR resulted in hundreds of hours of work, and needed to be constantly updated to reflect the most recent changes in Revit. This issue came up most recently with a mixed-use development in Stockholm where both clients and landscapers wanted to be able to “walk through” the most up-to-date version of the in-progress model. “When you’re working on a project, everything changes all the time,” says Bergström about the switch to Revit Live. “The good thing with Revit Live is that you can show the clients and the landscapers what’s going on and changes that have been made to the building.”

Courtesy Sweco Architects

Both clients and landscapers were excited to explore the latest version of Sweco’s design, especially since working with Revit Live meant that fewer resources were dedicated to creating the model, and they could always rely on the visualization for accuracy. “If I compare previous VR model projects with the same ones I’m doing now, the models have the same purpose, but now with Revit Live, we are two clicks away from having it ready. Two years ago, I would have been two weeks away.”

Courtesy Igor Macedo (also shown at top)

Revit Goes Live

Macedo brought the contemporary residential design of architects Hannah Grillo and Diego Santana to life with Revit Live. Using Revit Live, designers can experience their Revit models in one click, and take their models into a VR environment with systems like Oculus Rift. “With Revit Live, I can make 100 percent of our Revit projects interactive, and that’s just incredible,” says Macedo. “Our team made several design reviews in VR during project development, allowing them to experience the project as if they were already there, sensing the feel, depth and size of the building with our own eyes. We literally walked inside the project.”

Courtesy Igor Macedo

By exploring the design using VR, the architects were able to evaluate reflections created by natural and artificial lights, understand how rhythmic columns affected the scale of the room, and get a sense of how it felt to move through an integrated environment without barriers (the floor plan called for only one door in the entire house). For this visualization, Macedo also added features like animated water and differing natural landscapes. But, it was the common household items that excited Macedo. Through a partnership with MyBoxFree, a distribution platform with real-world commercial product content in BIM and CAD environments, Macedo integrated authentic brand-name appliances and products throughout the house, adding real-world objects with real-world textures.

Courtesy Igor Macedo

“The objective here is to empower architects and other designers to use BIM product libraries from the earliest design stages, making it possible to mitigate geometric errors, estimate costs and work closer to a real aesthetic,” says Macedo.

Courtesy Igor Macedo

Powerful New Potential

While Revit Live helped Macedo to explore new ways of extending his BIM workflow into a virtual reality environment, the more traditional renderings and photorealistic images he needed were created using Autodesk cloud services. The Revit cloud rendering tool helped the architect to create high-resolution photos and sunlight-study videos, while saving his computer resources. Even with two 24-core servers, Macedo would have needed to use 100 percent of his computing power to render a single image, making it impossible to work in Revit at the same time. He estimates that creating the renderings himself would have made his computer unavailable for 200 hours.

Courtesy Igor Macedo

But, with the cloud computing power of Autodesk Rendering, Macedo and his team avoided the strain on technology and employee resources. “Autodesk was a tremendous help in this project. By using Revit cloud rendering, that waste of time and resources is drastically reduced. In this project, we made more than 400 renderings in the cloud, and while we waited, we could continue to work normally. The software makes everything easier and more doable.”

Courtesy Igor Macedo

Macedo speculates that architects and engineers have not been using interactive visualization on their 3D projects for fear of the expense and potential technical difficulties. But, he hopes that Revit Live will encourage others to explore Revit-to-VR workflows using fast and programming-free visualizations. “Revit Live helps the advancement of VR for [architectural visualization] because it allows people with virtually no knowledge of real-time engines to see high-quality outputs of their projects in almost no time,” says Macedo. “Autodesk is providing tools for unprecedentedly easy Revit-to-VR workflows, and it is amazing to see that advancement.”

Learn more about the benefits of virtual reality with a free trial of Revit Live.

Courtesy Igor Macedo