Friday, 26 February 2016

Dessau Bauhaus Video

You might well take some time from modern construction methods and Architecture, to view this video on the BauHaus movement.

I have long been fascinated by the ethos and the way it was set up and funded, sadly the outcome in terms of actual construction was not as good as you might expect, but its so worth the time to watch.

I have watched this twice now, which together with my past reading, I have made my private notes in Evernote.

Should we aspire to this again, I think not, but the example of some of the thought process and idealism yes, a greater understanding of materials and a more hands on approach to the physical use and assembly of materials, yes.

The Bauhaus which operated from operated from 1919 to 1933, and closed by the Nazis rise in power,  was first founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar. In spite of its name, and the fact that its founder was an architect, the Bauhaus during the first years of its existence did not have an architecture department. Nonetheless, it was founded with the idea of creating a "total" work of art in which all arts, including architecture, would eventually be brought together.

As it happens, A cool €25M has been set aside to build a major Bauhaus Museum in Dessau, Germany, the second headquarters of the influential design movement started in 1919 by modernism's grandsire Walter Gropius. The new museum in Dessau City Park, which will have a permanent collection of nearly 40,000 Bauhaus objects, will ready in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the rigorous architecture and design school. At the same time, the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin will be spending €56M to open a new museum on the site, and renovate its historic Walter Gropius-designed building.

CIC A Blueprint for Change

I am alway interested in reasons for change, so naturally I picked up on the CIC ( Construction Industry Council ) latest report, A Blueprint for Change.

Lots to read, with some interesting Stats, and to be honest, some not so interesting.

But the one I found really interesting, and a point I shall be pushing to my students is :

  •  More people are due to retire than are joining the industry at a young age;
  • Plenty of reasons for getting into the industry, even though there's alway news of failing contractors and lack or new clients, I still see a bright future for the young professional. 

    You can download the report here  you need to go to the bottom of the page to see the download button.

    Thursday, 25 February 2016

    Looking at BIM from the Clients point of View - Client BIM Execution Plan

    I had a really interesting BIM conversation last night with a colleague re how a client might look at a BIM BIM Execution Plan, and the difference in point of view, how he might well have a different opinion as to how BIM might be set up, what software being used, and the way information, ie Cobie files and any IFC files, should be formatted and read.

    Most of my research, and thought process has been centred on the way we, as a practice , will set up the files, but if we are working for a large organisation who already have a set view on the building portfolio data, like a hospital, then a whole new set of criteria becomes relevant.

    I want to explore this further so have added it to my CPD list, and will report here when I have more to offer.

    Things like existing building databases, and room allocation and set up are well established so can BIM fit in and work with these existing structure, or will further work be required to create interfaces between BIM and the existing.

    My argument was to update the existing to suite, but of course this might not be cost effective, and cause so much confusion in a hospital with so many different users.

    Todays photo is so unrelated, to the article today, but this bench was on a long road in the Jewellery quarter Birmingham and just the right place to have a sit and watch the world go by.

    Wednesday, 24 February 2016

    A Digital Sundial thats not Digital

    This is a seriously interesting development, in the design of a sundial, the stick has a load of holes through it, each hole is a specific angle, that will produce a small spot at only one specific time, the combination of a lot, and I mean a lot of holes will produce a shadow like a normal sun dial, but with what looks like a digital readout, but its just a small sun spot,

    Can you imagine the design of all these little holes,,,,,,,

    But the video below is a great viewing and shows how and a little of the software required, is it CPD, well I think so, its design, knowledge of Lat and Long, time and Serious CAD and 3D printing, and Architecture, can you imagine a larger version that casts onto a large square,,,, cool.

    More from the web site,

    Tuesday, 23 February 2016


    I thought I might put together some notes via a slide presentation re SUD's, or Sustainable Urban Drainage.

    It should have a lot going for it, but sadly it's lost on the big house bumpers. and sadley a lot of big city developments.

    I would like to see more rainwater retention, a deeper understanding of the need to slow down waters path to rivers and the sea.

    More money given to look after our rivers, cleaning them restocking with the correct plant life and fish

    More on the understanding of how aquifers' are regenerated, how important rivers are to us and our water supply, plus how we can still build in river floor plains and allow the flooding not to impact on houses,

    None habitat space on the ground floor, stilt design, raised mounds, the list goes on, and as soon as planning takes the responsibility to encourage these designs the better.

    I want to see more use of Inverted roofs, both pitched and flat, more green walls and how Grey water can be used to its fullest potential.

    We need to understand how soakaways can be built and be more effective

    Check out BS 8525-1:2010

    As always the slides will be added to as I can or find new material

    Sharing Files correctly within the design Team using Vectorworks

    In this blog, I will attermpt to show how I share files within a design team, the video below, I hope will make it all clear, and show the method I use.

    I must admit this came originaly from a practice I worked ast a log time ago, and was set up using dwg files, all I have done here is also explain the way Vectorworks imports layers, I have used Vectorworks 2013, my current drawing package, although if you look carfully enough you can see I also have Vectorworks 2016, so I will replicate this later in the new 2016 version, I will also do it with IFC files not the raw Vectorwork files.

    So take a lok at the video, I start by being the Architects practice, send out the files, I am then the Lift manufacturer, I reference the file show the position of the lift, and don't forget, my drawings are geolocated, I save it for future work, and save it again as a file to send back to the Architect, and also cleanit up, removing all the clutter, I keep in my file and and the referenced files i originaly added, I am now left with a small file that has the lift correctly positioned, and geolocated.

    This I send back and the Architect practice who loads it in as a ref file and can now use the information, as its geolocated, the lift is in the correct position.

    The Engineer and other consultants would do exactly the same, 

    Look at the difference in file size doing it this way, also there is no conflict with the Architect files being sent back.

    Ways to overcome large CAD files bloated with unnecessary Data

    In my last blog, I showed how easy it is to add data to almost any Vectorworks object, its not hard, and can add so much to a project, but there is a down side, that is the file can become large and over bloated with information, but taking a step back and looking at this, we can see a way out, and that is to add data like this onto separate files that are linked to the main file by relational links, or X ref files in Autocad.

    This can be applied to Engineers structural drawings, heating and vent, planting, almost all services and specialist  drawings.

    This can also apply both ways in any Architect, consultant relationship, where the Architects drawings are linked into the enginners drawings to lay out the steel, switching of the links when no longer required.

    This keeps his file size to a min, and lowers the need for over rated computers purchased just to handle large files.

    Plus the consultants only need to issue his drawing work, not the linked data which would cause so much confusion, as master files get updated.

    I must stress, this relies upon a good knowledge of Eastings and Northings, and the correct setup of the drawings for it to ease linking, otherwise time will needless be spent on re alining linked drawings with obvious mistakes.

    Also be careful using layer or class naming it's imperative to stop clash of imported drawing layers.

    Monday, 22 February 2016

    Adding data to a CAD Object - Vectorworks

    I want to continue the links I have been adding, re BIM, and how data can be added and linked. This last item is the one that seems to confuse, so stay with me I'll try and explain it all.

    First lets consider how information can be added to a CAD drawing, and for my ease of mind, for this blog, I shall stick to Vectorworks, its the one I know best, I shall move to Autocad and Revit in the blogs to come.

    Some time back I made two different videos on this subject, both are shown below, they show the ease and simplistic way data, of almost any shape and size can be added to almost anything in Vectorworks and named, but don't belie this as being low level, its not, this is simply the most powerful CAD database there is.

    The first shows the way data can be added to a tree symbol and the second how this can be extracted via a report, and imported into a spreadsheet, read Cobie file.

    Thursday, 18 February 2016

    What Does BIM Stand For

    When you talk with anyone already associated with CAD and BIM and ask them what BIM stands for, you are going to get one of two correct answers :

    I like both but they both demand a little more explanation and as I said both are correct

    The first statement is correct because in my book it relates to the use of BIM within the 3D modelling process, both as a tool to define an object's place when drawing and as part of the embedded information that's built into any object to define what it is, size, material, colour, and manufactured by and performance data, mass, thermal data strength.

    The second statement, also correct, refers to the use and management of the data built into the object, its use within the design team,, engineer, H&V engineer, Lighting engineer, QS, and how it's shared, and used outside of the design team, the contractor, and perhaps we can introduce the client here. And often as not outside the 3D cad program as data sheets in the form of specialist spreadsheets, or Cobie files, and the whole model as the IFC file. Their is also a whole realm of other uses for this data in the management of the completed building by maintenance people, and the client.

    It's my aim in future blogs to expand on this, but for now I think this simplistic view allows for a little research on how different people view and use BIM from a historic view, as well as a futuristic stance as to how BIM can and will develop.

    Will CAD and BIM stay as we see them now, will they evolve.

    Todays photo is a sketch I made in my Moleskin to try and understand the way CAD can evolve, my guess is that Augmented Reality is the way, and Point Cloud will play a major part in the way CAD can evolve.

    Wednesday, 17 February 2016

    PDF attachment to Google Calendar

    You know how it is, I am booked to attend a big meet, the person organising it has sent some files out, but you need some others, the simple way is to create a desktop folder and pile them in, but you decide not to take the laptop, and just go with the iPad, ok save them to a dropbox folder, this works, but its taking up valuable space from your dropbox account.

    Perhaps a better way is to save the files into your Google Calendar as pdf files, via the add attachment box,

    The process, works for me, I can even operate from my iPhone which I always have with me, although some google cal apps not made by Google do not allow attachments, be careful, check, the photo below shows my iPhone and the Google cal app with a pdf attachment.

    The file is actually saved to Google Drive, so the file is available available an alternate route, and I can make notes here as well.

    I have done much the same via Evernote, which also works just fine and also has the benifit of allowing you to make notes too.

    Is this CPD, not really, just being prepared, and setting up notes ready for a meet in a way that just works, no fuss.

    Tuesday, 16 February 2016

    A little on BIM for manufacturers

    This small presentation is aimed at manufacturers who should be contemplating BIM and just how its going to affect their business strategy, it terms of materials research, production and research into new materials for the very near future.

    There is so much on BIM in the news and different construction forums it can be a little over over the top, jargon filled and full of hype.

    My presentation is aimed at manufacturers, to outline a material and specification generation strategy path for the next 30 years and more, in a language thats easy to understand.

    Need to squeeze it in to a lunch time presentation no problem, I can talk a little faster and shoehorn the main facts into a one hour overview with the same access to the full slide set and bibliography

    Tuesday, 9 February 2016

    Sketching over Skype

    One of the problems I had whilst using Skpe to talk to my students and Clients was the inability to sketch a detail whilst I talk, until I found a nice little app on the Google Chrome Store, called SketchPad.
    The video below quickly shows how easy it is to use, I suppose I could use CAd but its to formal, this is quick and easy.

    Monday, 8 February 2016

    Ambient Back Scatter

    One of the problems I see in placing Sensors within any element, is the life of the sensors battery battery thats powering it. if we are to place sensors deep in the construction, then replacing then when the battery is down might be difficult.

    This technology called "Ambient Back Scatter"is based on the ambient power in the signals in the air, it just might be the way to power the sensors for the life of the buildings.

    Well worth looking at, there are several papers on the subject, just look at Google Scholar, and search for Ambient Back Scatter.

    Friday, 5 February 2016

    IoT Connection to the Internet

    If we are to make use of the Internet of things, then the devices ability to access the internet and sent sensor data to the cloud, then this device from, is a must. The Video from Scoble shows this technology and how easy it is to set up a specific sensor array and get this connected up so easily.

    It relies upon a battery and at least a 2G connection, and at about $2 a week its not that expensive to run, although they say a solar array is available.

    The video below is on Facebook, and presented by Robert Scoble, its a real easy system, so easy to update, and run.

    There are a number of tutorials to show you how to do things, for me though its a way of getting sensor data back to the building to integrate into the IFC data, cloud cover, temp, wind speed, etc. just drop down the menu bar on the top right of the screen and choose.

    Cool new IoT Dev kit from http://www.particle.ioFor makers to developers who want to build prototypes with connectivity built in.
    Posted by Robert Scoble on Monday, 1 February 2016

    Inserting additional Lines into a Google Sheet

    You might want to take a look at my latest video on YouTube, to show how to add or insert rows into a google spreadsheet, its simple but you need to understand where the rows will be added to make it effective.

    Forgive the slight pause in the middle, for some reason my Mac  did not want to play ball

    Thursday, 4 February 2016

    Walter Segal -The Tartan Grid

    One of the more interesting things about Walter Segals detailing, is the use of a Tartan Grid, thats alined to the size of materials as well as the structural needs of the building.

    If you take time to have a look through the Excellent AJ article on Walter Segal, you might want to take time and review his explanation of this grid. It’s not the usual grid you might expect to find on a house or for that mater any other Architectural project I have ever worked on in 45 years, and consist of a smaller tartan grid fitting within a master grid.

    Walter segal houses were, or are, made with as little waste as possible, materials used are fitted whole, not cut, hence the tartan grid, which is used to control the main materials and they are intended to fit between the main structure grid.

    Lets start with the smaller tartan grid, which is made up of a 600mm wide larger spacing with a 50mm wide space between. The 6000mm wide space being the width of a plaster board. The 50mm space is for the secondary structural stud, which always shows through in Walters designs, a point you might like to re consider in a modern house.

    The larger grid would be made up of module of the smaller unit, limited by the span of the floor joist, I like the idea of a three or four material tartan modules to the main structural grid of the main support frame, if I keep both grids with a 50mm small gap, this will allow easy planning of the interior fitting in with the smaller internal walls.

    The point of this review of Walters grid is to make you think about how you might approach the same problem given modern materials and structural requirements. I still like the idea of this grid, but would look at a 1200mm wide plasterboard, and a 75mm wide stud to both the secondary and main structure, looking at a 150 x75, with a 200 or 225×75 main structure. This defiantly needs some play time looking at the various permutations and layout possibilities, and how easy each would be to install, given that most of his house types are self build. 

    I original posted most of this blog in Jan 2012, 

    Walter Segal update

    I have just added an old 1966 television program from Youtube to the first post in this set of articles on Walter Segal, this time however, I thought I would separate Walters work with this video looking at his designs from a different perspective.

    This link will take you to the Google Map, there is a lot of tree cover, but the site is there to be seen.

    Wednesday, 3 February 2016

    Walter Segal Foundations

    Building the Walter Segal Way, takes you into a minimal foundation design. Its simplicity itself, yet works as well as a strip foundation, and the steeper sites lap up the method.

    So whats involved, simply a paving flag sitting on the earth, with perhaps a small circular concrete pile below, the paving flag following the contour of the natural land.

    The load from the timber structure loading direct onto the paving flag at its centre.

    The AJ Article has this in depth, which I will send or give a link out for, if for research,  and the films particularly the Grand Design film explains this in a little more detail.

    The impact on the land from the house is minimal.

    The video below bottom helps to understand it all, its not great and uses concrete posts rather than paving flags, but you get the basic principal, but I downloaded a sketchup file of a very good 3D Sketchup model part finished, and made the video immediately below.and the jpg to the left, I think it shows the construction better.

    Walter Segal - Grand Designs

    Grand Designs produced this program in 2014, its an up to date view of construction the Walter Segal Way, the construction, but more the people involved, and the problems.
    But excellent all the sane.

    Walter Segal

    If you have followed my blog for the past few years, it will come as no surprise to learn of my fascination with the Architect Walter Segal.

    I first came into contact with him and his method of timber frame building as a Tech guy in Dow Construction Products, we got involved with making a new updated version with Styrofoam as the loose core insulation not quilt, at the centre of Alternative Technology mid wales.

    The Architect Jon Broom was the designers at the time, he worked with Walter, and although runs his own practice in London, he still has strong ties to the method Walter devised.

    The AJ at about the same time printed a booklet attached to the AJ, it looked at the way he viewd materials, the method of layout, and his tartan grid that aided layout design by looking at the material sizes. I still have a copy and if you want a pdf for research, please let me know I send a link to down load it.

    Recently I recieved an email from the the AA about an affordable Housinr exhibition featering Walter Segal and his self build houses in the London Borough of Lewisham, some 200 units, I was lucky enough to visit several of them with Jon and just loved the simplisity and easy style living.

    You can read about the exhibition at this link to the AA site, I plan to take time to visit myself  Walter’s Way – The Self-Build Revolution until 13 February, Architectural Association School of Architecture, 36 Bedford Square, London

    I had a lot of separate article on the old site, I will dig these out of my archive and repost over the coming weeks.

    Tuesday, 2 February 2016

    Vectorworks Building Takeoff sheets

    I am so pleased to report, that Jon Pickup of Archoncad, is running a webinar on Wed, Feb 10, 2016 7:30 AM - 8:30 AM GMTlooking at the use of Vectorworks to produce sheets or spreadsheets for export. There are actually several time slots to suite attendees from all over the world. Take a peak at his new site for further info.

    I know they are not easy to do, but following Jon's advice, I am sure it will prove very simple.

    The official name for spreadsheets are Cobie files, but apart from the formatting they are essentially spreadsheets.

    The problem is not their  creation, but getting the right information onto the sheet, and getting it onto the sheet is so often down to the way we name and link the information to the sheet, naming correctly is so important.

    So many people are ready to ignore spreadsheet exports, because they argue the IFC file has it all, but contractors and site managers are not going to let them go, and if we want to see purchase orders and other site information correctly then the use of well made spreadsheets is still very important.

    I use Google spreadsheet, so it will be interesting to see how they import