Join Paul F. Aubin for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding the massing environment, part of Advanced Modeling in Revit Architecture.
When beginning the design process for a new building, the establishment of the buildings overall form can happen in a variety of ways. For example, traditional approaches include clay models, styrofoam and cardboard study models, sketches, or we can work the model in a computer program such as Revit. Often a combination of these techniques is employed. The Conceptual Massing Environment in Revit is a free-form work environment which allows you to explore and iterate many design concepts quickly. In this environment, there are no walls, doors, or roofs, only forms and relationships.
The first time you enter the Massing Environment, it can be a little confusing. It looks very similar to Revit, but it has a lot of differences as well. So in this movie, we're going to take an overview of the user interface of the Conceptual Massing Environment and focus on how it differs from the standard Revit UI. So I am in a file called CME.rfa. Now you'll notice that it does have an RFA extension. This is actually a Family Editor Environment, so the Conceptual Massing Environment is a version of the Family Editor, not a version of the Project Environment. And if you watched the last movie where we got a quick overview, the first thing that we notice is the Gradient Fill background that we see in the Conceptual Environment; that's our first telltale sign that we're here.
Another thing that's pretty different about the Conceptual Environment is, objects like Levels and Reference Planes actually appear in 3D in this environment, so that's something that we don't see anywhere else in Revit as well. Now when you look at the Ribbon, it's perhaps the most confusing aspect of the Conceptual Massing Environment of all, and that is, we are in here because we want to model 3D forms and yet we don't see any 3D form tools whatsoever. The basic workflow in this environment is you set a Work Plane, you draw a shape, and then you turn that shape into form.
So the Work Plane, I am going to just accept the default for the time being. And I'm going to go right to creating a shape, so I am just going to do a simple circle, draw a circle out on this Work Plane. You'll notice that it's actually highlighting the Ground Plane, so the default Work Plane is the Ground Plane. And then cancel out of there and select the circle, and that's going to give me access to the Create Form button. So we had our Work Plane, we draw a shape, and then we create form.
If it's obvious the form that you want to create, Revit will just simply create it. If there's any question as to what you're trying to create, then it will basically ask you which form you had in mind using what they call here the Intent Stack. Now I can either make a cylinder or a ball from this shape. So by just highlighting the one I want and clicking it, Revit will give me the appropriate 3D form. If I selected a shape that was non- ambiguous and click Create Form, it would just simply create it.
So when I click a box shape, it really doesn't have to ask me any questions, it just simply creates a box from it, and we see it create that form. We mentioned the Work Plane and I just accepted the default initially. Well, the way that you set Work Plane in the Conceptual Environment is actually fairly simple. You just simply click the plane that you want to use as a Work Plane and that will automatically set that as the Work Plane. And so now if I go back and I draw my shape, cancel out of there.
Hold down my Shift key and drag my wheel to orbit around, you'll notice that that circle is now actually drawn up right on that vertical plane. And then I could select it, Create Form, choose my intent, and it will create my cylinder on that plane. Now I can also use Reference Lines. If you are not familiar with Reference Lines, they are similar to Model Lines, except that they have all of these integrated work planes within them.
Now notice by just simply clicking that, it actually highlights a little gray, bluish shaded plane right there. The easier way to see that is to actually come up here to the Work Plane panel and click this Show button, and that will show me the Work Plane even when it's not selected. So without all that clutter in the way, I can see that this Work Plane is now active. If I were to draw something, I'd be drawing it right on that reference life. If I want to set one of those other planes, what we'll notice here is there is a Work Plane here, press my Tab key, there's another one here, move down toward the end, there's another one here.
And I could make any of those the active Work Plane, and then when I draw the object I'm drawing would actually appear on that Work Plane. And the neat thing about doing that is, if I were to edit these grips you can see that that object stays associated with that Work Plane as it changes in real-time. So using Reference Lines can be a way to create a Work Plane that then can become variable. So if you're building a more complex form and you want to be able to flex it in various ways, using Reference Lines instead of either Reference Planes or Levels can actually be a better choice for your Work Plane and we'll see more examples of that later in the course.
So the Work Plane is one difference. You simply select the object, or use the Set Work Plane button and that's pretty different way of working here in the Massing Environment. What's another difference here in the Massing Environment? Over here I had a rectangle and I turned it into a box, I am going to draw a new rectangle but I want to set my Work Plane, and draw a new rectangle over here. I want to talk a little bit about selection that's different in this environment. Notice that when you highlight the edge of a rectangle or any shape, it actually highlights the chain first by default.
Now that's exactly the opposite of what we have in the Project Environment. In the Project Environment, we highlight one wall and then we have to press the Tab key to get the chain. Here, if I want to get just one line, I would actually have to use the Tab key. So the default is chain and then I use the Tab key to get an individual selection. Default is chain; Tab key gives me the individual selection. Now, it turns out you can actually create form even from that individual line. notice that what Revit will give us-- if I just zoom in a little on that, is a plane that's extruded up from that line.
If I select the rest of the chain, Create Form again, it kind of get this shelled out form right here. So we can create solids or we can create surfaces in this environment. Now another difference is the way that we actually select forms. If you move your mouse over to one of these existing forms, what you'll notice is, the actual individual parts and pieces of the form will highlight like the surface or this surface or even the edges. And if I click on them they will select, click on it, it will select.
And I'll get this little control handle. If I want to select the entire form, I have to actually press Tab to get the form and then I won't get a control handle, I am going to be moving just that entire form. So the control handles are actually a really powerful feature in this environment. They have the three different colored arrows, each one representing one of the standard axes; X, Y and Z. So if I want to move this plane and move it along the X axis, I can simply drag that red arrow.
If I move either the green or the blue, the Y or the Z and drag that, it will actually shear my box and change its shape, and I can kind of shear it in either direction there. And if orbit around a little, you can kind of see that my box is now all distorted in three directions. Now if we look carefully here at these little angled portions that kind of connect two of the arrows, that is a way of changing the form along both of those axes at the same time.
So if I were to drag this one, I would actually be changing it both in the Z and in the Y at the same time. And so I could move really in any angle, but I'm constrained to that plane. I could move at any angle, but now I am constrained to the X and Y plane. So using those control handles, you can freely manipulate the form either directly on the surface or even on the edges, like so, okay. Now, I come over here to this form and I highlight it and it highlights a little differently.
I didn't press the Tab key and yet it's highlighting the entire object. This one here, when I click on it, what we see is it's actually an object. This is a nested massing family that's just brought right into this project. So just like we can bring in any family into any project or other family, we can do the same thing here in the Massing Environment. The way this thing got here, was on the Home tab, using the Component button. so the same way that you would do it in the project or Family Editor Environment.
You click Component, you open up your list, you've got some different choices here Cylinder, Cone, Arch, right, this is the one looking we are looking at is Arch, may be I want to use a Cone. And you can place these things in a variety of ways. Now notice that right now it's saying that I can't actually place it. I am getting a circle with a line through it. The placement options over here on the Ribbon indicate how it's going to be placed. I can either place it on faces, which is what it defaults to, and then you'll see it highlighting the faces of existing geometry as I move my mouse around.
I can even place it on other nested objects here; give my little arch a hat. Or I can place it on a Work Plane. So if I do Work Plane, then what I would have to do is cancel out of here, set the Work Plane first, go to Home, go to Component and then choose Place on Work Plane and now I can place it freely anywhere on that Work Plane. So I have to choose which placement mode I want and then I can place it in one of those two ways.
Now, when you're done building your form and we've been kind of messing around here so there's really nothing terribly exciting here to save. But the last step of working in the Massing Environment is you build up your form, but then in order to actually use it, you need to load it into a project. And that project is what will ultimately become your building design. So I don't actually have a project loaded right now. So I'm going to go to the big R, go to New, and create a new project, and I'll just use the standard default template and click OK.
And so here I am in my standard Revit Project Environment. I am going to minimize the view, I'm back here in my Massing Environment and then I use the Load into Project button. Now, if you've ever worked in the Family Editor, and again, it's not required as a prerequisite to this course, but if you've ever done any work in the Family Editor, then this is a similar workflow. You go from your family and you load it into your project, and so in this case our massing family, we are going to load it into our project. And the difference between loading a standard family and loading a massing family is the massing family will tell us that it has to enable the Show Mass mode.
And this is because, by default, masses are a hidden object type in Revit, so we need to unhide them. We need to display masses before your family will actually show. So it's offering to do that for you here with this very long-winded message here. So I'd just simply click Close and then I get similar placement options that we just saw a moment ago. Now there are no faces for me to place this thing on, so I'll simply do Work Plane. In this case, the Work Plane will be Level 1, and you could see that I can place my mass somewhere on screen.
And it's warning me that it contains both solid and mesh geometry. You recall that we did extrude up, if I go to 3D, we did extrude up some surfaces here and it's just simply complaining that the Project Environment might not fully understand some of those surfaces. And then you can see that here is my mass form ready to be used here in my project. Now I am not going to get into the details of how we use it just yet. That will be the subject of later movies. But at this point we would now have our clay model, if you will, our digital clay model and we'd be ready to go the next step of our design phase.
So the Conceptual Massing Environment has some distinct differences from the Standard Revit Work Environment. The idea is that, you use the Conceptual Environment to explore forms and perform massing studies and iterate design ideas about your building. If you've used Revit for a while, but you're new to conceptual environment, it's going to take a little getting used to. But however hopefully, you'll find that the design freedom that's afforded by the environment will make the initial discomfort a small price to pay.
- Understanding some different approaches to modeling
- Building an in-place mass
- Creating and manipulating massing forms
- Using X-Ray and Dissolve
- Performing an energy analysis
- Applying geometry to surfaces
- Configuring divided surfaces
- Nesting massing families
- Stitching borders with adaptive components
- Working with lofting techniques
- Adding dormers and soffits
- Choosing a wall modeling strategy
- Working with curtain walls
- Building custom stairs
- Creating a custom material