At the start of last week, I was delighted to participate in the very first UK Dynamo User Group Dynamo Day. I was invited to speak about my experience with Dynamo and also had the opportunity to take part in a Dynamo workshop. This was the first event of this kind to be organised in London and as part of it, the UK Dynamo User Group meeting was the first one ever to be ticketed. It goes without saying I was eager for that day to come, and the UKDynUG did not disappoint. The organisation was brilliant, and along with all the excellent professional perks of being there, there was also vegan desert after lunch, so pretty much all my needs were satisfied.

The intermediate workshop was carried by John Pierson, and had a lovely air or accessibility, even though it was meant for people with some experience. John was really great breaking things down and handing us practical tools as well as helping us understand the underlining concepts of the algorithms we were exploring. We even got to create our own custom package – something I had never attempted, because I assumed it was way too complicated, but actually turns out is beautifully straight forward.

Following the workshops, we moved on to a series of talks, opened by yours truly. My talk aimed to show simple every day usage of Dynamo that anyone can implement in a working project. I built on simple graphs for running checks on schedules and moved onto mass placement of families under a system of rules. This kicked off an evening with an excellent range of presentations:

Giacomo Bergonzoni & Fabrizio Sampietro spoke about the challenges of Historical BIM and how Dynamo can help overcome them – having had some experience on listed building refurbishment in BIM, I have to say – this is some admirable work that they are doing.

Nicolas Leguina talked about Computational design & workflows on a specific project with a tight budget, and it was really great to see the genuinely creative usage of various software in a way to help a seriously understaffed project.

Radu Gidei talked about alternative uses of Dynamo, and I must admit I was very impressed by his angle; it is also true that what his research has done requires experience and knowledge that not anyone in an architectural studio has.

Hands down the most visually exciting presentation was by Long Nguyen from the university of Stuttgart. He presented his custom package DynaShapes – do look it up – and gave us a demonstration that made me think of the animators that did Merida’s hair.

gif: https://www.bustle.com/articles/76537-what-your-favorite-disney-princess-hair-says-about-you-from-snow-whites-lob-to-meridas-pretty

Sol Amour & Mark Thorley from Designtech closed the evening talking about Project Refinery. Project Refinery follows on from the form finding exploration of Project Fractal, but also explores optimisation and refinement as well as allowing for randomisation. Refinery seems like something that can bring great depth to conceptual design without demanding the proportional work. The Project is still a work in progress and the duo called out to anyone who is trying it out for feedback.

The event culminated to the usual networking drinks and it was amazing to share experiences with so many people equally excited about computation. I hope to see all of you on the field soon!

More about the Dynamo Day you can find soon here and following the #DynamoDay.

Cover image currency of Sol Amour.

As written on the face of the promotional T-Shirts we’ve got (together with a ‘TRUST ME, I’M A H4C1<3®’ sign on the back), Forge Rocks indeed! I was able to assert that (see what I did there) after spending a week in one of the Forge Accelerator events, this one held in Barcelona between 11-15 June. First of all, the weather in Barcelona was great at that period and the temperature was just right for a week of intense training. Just to give you an idea of what it was like, here are some photos from the weekend after the training, once that the pressure was off and I could enjoy the beauty of the city.

The Forge training took off on Monday and after a brief introduction from the organizers (hats off to everyone on the team that made the experience so rewarding), we dived straight in. Or should I say – I nose-dived while the rest of the 20 something attendees went on to polish their already great looking applications. See, the thing is that I had no past experience with Forge and even though I knew about its potential and spent a full week trying to deploy the most basic implementation of the Viewer following a tutorial by Augusto Conclaves a year prior to this event, I was pretty much a greenhorn. Thankfully, there is a growing body of step-by-step tutorials that guide you through those initial phases and I was able to accomplish in a couple of hours what took me a week of work before.

Coming to the Accelerator, my plan was to complete a proof-of-concept revolving around a workflow that I’ve discussed with a client. I was able to identify the resources that I used as a starting point fairly quickly (shout-out to Jamie @AfroJme and Philippe @F3lipek), so I finished day 1 writing code till the wee hours with a sense of hopeful enthusiasm. By the end of day 2, this hopefulness was replaced by cold desperation. For those of you thinking of picking up Autodesk Forge – you guys and you girls, you’ll simply need JavaScript. No matter how you spin it, there’s no way you’ll get around the fact that Forge needs js. Now, I love learning computer languages as the next guy and I have a good grasp of C#, Python, HTML, CSS, Processing, but picking JavaScript in 3 days, that was simply too much for my poor brain. It’s a functional language, it’s a front-end language, everything is asynchronous, there are Promises to keep, events to track, functions to nest, it’s just too much. Now I understood why pretty much everyone else in the room was a web-developer in some capacity.

No matter, with a lot of testing, trying, huffing and puffing and a little help from my new friends Roman, from Ukraine (to my right) and Sven, from Germany (to my left) and the ever-vigilant Philippe, I was able to put the final touches of my now working prototype. Day 5 is the presentation day and is the time when everyone is given the opportunity to demonstrate their Forge application. For me, that was probably the most important day of the whole week. The Forge apps I saw that day were nothing short of impressive, and I mean each of them. With a bit of an overlap between some of the teams, probably the two major themes were IoT and CDM.

For me, though, one team shone above the rest – the young guys from Moicon really stood out with their sleek, modern, fully functional application. Although fringe to the AEC industry (their first customer was a Cake factory in Norway) their product was innovative and super smart. One could really see how their customers were gaining value from every aspect of the design. In short, they’ve created a 3D representation of the factory floor that shows all important aspects of the everyday work through objects with associated (real-time) metadata. The objects beep, blink and change color in order to attract attention when needed, you get the gist. We had a chat with Torbjorn Grimstad, Moicon’s manager and visual strategist (as per his business card) and I was impressed by his clarity, foresight, business acumen and practical use of concept like gamification. Cool stuff. Moicon have a stand at Autodesk University in London which is held right now – if you have the chance, go say hi and see their product, you won’t regret it!

I really enjoyed the Forge Accelerator and I think Autodesk Forge has a huge potential that is already being realized by many companies out there. I am eager to present our working prototype very soon and hopefully introduce it to the larger public. Most of all, I enjoyed meeting some amazing people, making some great memories and coining future collaborations. Here are a couple of snippets from those moments.

What is Dynamo? Dynamo keeps coming up here and there and if you are not sure what it is or why you should be excited about it – this is for you!

Here in Archilizer we get very excited about automation but also teaching and empowering the users. Dynamo is the best tool for that. If you have ever worked with Rhino, Dynamo is for Revit what Grasshopper is for Rhino. If you haven’t – well then, you are in for a treat – Dynamo is a plug in for Revit that allows you to do what is called Visual Programming in Revit. It is essentially an accelerator for the dormant power or Revit. It allows you to program actions within the software without having to write lines and lines of unintelligible code – tailor made for architects.

Another excellent thing about Dynamo is that it is an open source software. This creates an amazing community and ever-growing library of tools. If you want to learn more about it this is the main source – http://dynamobim.org/

Because the open source provokes so much collaboration, groups and communities for collaboration naturally grow around Dynamo. One like this is the UK Dynamo User Group. The group has existed since the start of 2016 and it has had multiple meetings hosted in exciting venues like the Foster+Partners, Grimshaw Architects and Arup offices. Deyan Nenov has already contributed his experience to the group in May 2016 when he talked about the differences in various automating strategies for Revit. You can see his presentation here. And since he did a great job with that, we have been invited again – this time Katya Veleva will be speaking about her experience with non-graphic information in healthcare projects in later stages. We are all very excited! Tickets for the event can be found here.

It is a beautiful time when you dive in a project where all the consultants involved are fully BIM enabled and thirsty to make those schedules work beautifully not only for the QS, but also for your strategy drawing showing several models owned by entirely different parties!

If you spend long enough in an environment like this it is easy to forget there are still practices working hard to keep to deadlines with 2D data and endless drafting and coordination.

We spent a day at the RIBA Road Show recently and we got reminded that there are still companies needing convincing about BIM, so we thought we should ask ourselves that question again – Why BIM – it’s always good to question your fundamentals from time to time. Here are our unfiltered thoughts:

First let’s note BIM is NOT a software – Revit is not equivalent to BIM, neither is Archicad, or whatever you may want to use. BIM is a process that demands collaboration at an early stage between all the consultants at an early stage of the process. The idea is to digitally build the building before you physically do, because boy, is it cheaper to move a digital duct than it is to have to deal with that kind of thing in real physical life. I know that for many the word “cheaper” doesn’t really come in mind when you think of the software prescriptions of BIM or the amount of work that it seems to require. But trust us, the bottom line at the end of a project will show you that this is the case, you actually have spent much less time coordinating and you have saved so much on on-site issues. The work simply has moved forward in the process.

*diagram inspired by http://www.shoegnome.com

Having said that, we do have to look at the software that comes with BIM. We are big fans of Revit around here. The Archilizer team has been committed to Revit since 2009 and both of us have not been able to shut up about how amazing it is purely for drafting. This is one of our favourite videos that illustrate this in clear numbers:

Why would you ever draft in 2d?

Coordinating everything consistently and in 3D environment and including that sweet sweet non-graphic information allows accurate building analysis early! All those standards that we want to meet and overspecify for – LEED, PassiveHouse, WELL ect, – this is what can help us target them with accuracy and efficensy. Ain’t no body likes a surprise at their Air Tightness test – what an embarrassment!

Treating the information about a building as an asset is priceless in the running of the building. The BIM-FM relationship is still young, but it promises to be a love story of a life time – no “The Notebook” shenanigans, actual Michelle and Barak of steadiness and prosperity.

Having revisited our fundamental question, we are very much still into BIM and can’t wait to share our enthusiasm, especially on the last point. We are looking forward to a BIM for FM event soon and will review that soon after.