Possibility of an Open Design project!

As discussed during the May OSArch meetup - we have many skills in the group ranging from mech, structural, and architectural. It would be great to attempt a real project, whether from the commercial industry, or from the charitable industries, and attempt it solely using FOSS tools. The process would allow us to quickly discover the many shortcomings of our tools, and fix them along the process.

I will look for a project through the week - there may be some personal projects by coworkers who might enjoy the free labour, but it'd be a real project. I also have an old friend who has done a lot of work with architects for humanity (I think, I'd have to double check) who might be able to point us to where we can volunteer for them.

If you have any contacts, please speak up too and keep us updated if something turns up!

If we do find a project, I volunteer my abilities as a programmer for Blender as well as an architect. It would actually be super cool if I wasn't the architect, that way I could focus on programming and train another experienced Blender user to use the tools, which would offer a fascinating perspective. If somebody here knows their way around Blender, or would like to get real good real fast, let me know because this is the time :)



  • There is a project in Denmark modelled in both Revit and ArchiCAD used for the Danish IFC guide. It could be interesting to model that or another well know example building in the toold we have to showcase them. By modelling already existing sampel projects from other firms that would generate som discussion outside our community.

    The Danish project: https://www.molio.dk/popular-danish-guide-to-ifc-translated-into-english

    The Autodesk house: https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/revit-products/getting-started/caas/CloudHelp/cloudhelp/2019/ENU/Revit-GetStarted/files/GUID-61EF2F22-3A1F-4317-B925-1E85F138BE88-htm.html

  • If we want to capture the attention of architecture students with european connections then continuing the FreeCAD project of the Barcelona Pavilion is also an option.

    FreeCAD Barcelona Pavilion: https://yorik.uncreated.net/blog/2019-062

    Real world projects are great and are the goal for all our efforts, but may require processes out of the current scope of this community. We are new and OSArch is not an architectural, engineering & construction practice. Could we do round tripping with an IFC server? without something like that we can't even begin to approach synchronous work on a building model and are severely limited in the size of projects we can work on. What are your thoughts @yorik & Ryan (@theoryshaw )

  • Modelling a built project like Barcelona Pavilion is a possibility and fun, no deadline to meet. I have been trying to solicit peoples doing the structural, MEP / BS model, visualisation etc. for those masterpiece like Villa Savoye, Carpenter Center, Ronchamp etc. It would be a collaboration of several disciplines.

    Also thought of a mini competition entry.

    But I am not sure how FOSS are ready for it. @Yorik for sure has all the knowledge in building a FC model, IFC export etc. @Moult can model in Blender super quick. But when it is a real project, I have not seen MEP modelling around e.g. in FC forum.

    Maybe setting up something to share all the files for collaboration is something need an expert ? Need a BIMserver? File server ?

  • For MEP, that is something we can for sure implement in FreeCAD and Blender.

    Ryan has great experience in collaborating in Git - I think he can lead on this.

    Maybe we can try an existing building first without a deadline, a small simple one, divide the tasks, and see what we can produce within a couple months, and if that goes well, move on to something more ambitious?

  • @theoryshaw is right that the way to get the tools and workflow working is on a real world project, and I would add that this needs to be small scale.

    A small project that tackles all the aspects would be a refurb/extension.

    Going from a survey (point cloud, or photogrammetry with meshroom) to a base IFC model. Adding existing services (MEP), adding and removing bits from the base model (how does this even work in IFC?), design of modifications, rendering and production drawings, quantities and documentation. This is a lot of stuff to be pioneering with new unfamiliar tools, and the only job I can think of that is smaller is a garden shed.

  • A hypothetical refurbishment / extension of Church of Light, Barcelona Pavilion, Villa Savoye etc. ? - Who have a great idea to do something on the masterpiece ? :D

    It happens I download the meshroom and have a quick test on how it works. Not sure of real use-cases.

  • There are already several examples of famous buildings totally modeled with FreeCAD in the wiki: https://wiki.osarch.org/index.php?title=Architecture_3D_models_created_in_FreeCAD In fact, you can see in the list the wikilab designed by Yorik that is a model actually built by crowdfunding. On the other hand, the Farnsworth' House recreation is a highly detailed model that show how efficient can be FreeCAD handling a complex model.

    To recreate iconic buildings with FreeCAD and show them in the social network can be a nice way for public open source tool demonstrations. But I think this can be achieve as a personal task. You don't need a team to recreate 3D building models in FreeCAD. If you want to work as a team for a first project, I think a better approach is to make something similar to Wikilab project.

  • The majority of those who are active in FOSS projects and even commercial projects, first of all, should have "hands-on" knowledge and experience about the industry and should know that what's today's problems/needs and the future of the industry

    I judge on projects and people based on what they do and what the share

    The industry is going to be more automated, so I have time for projects in "automation and controls" fields

    If you all want to talk about "general" things, it's not interesting to me

    If you want to work on invaluable projects I'm always here to help

  • I would like to develop the HVAC part.

    @paullee You can find MEP stuff on FreeCAD forum like Dodo workbench (ex-Flamingo workbench) and Foundation and HVAC library. Some time ago I was planning to develop HVAC on FreeCAD but my current developments related to energy analysis on FreeCAD makes me unconfident for the MEP part. I am now considering more using FreeCAD for objects (air terminals, valves etc…) and Blender for the rest. But I need to dive more into Blender to see if this feeling is right.

  • @Cyril Thanks pointing to that thread !

    Any sample works with MEP ?

  • I also think there is no need for a real team effort to develop the arch part of a small building, being FreeCAD or anything else... However, the collaboration part is the interesting piece to try.. Maybe that is worth trying, like, someone does the terrain, other does something else, etc. All based on ifc and all managed with git.

    Regarding MEP, i'd love starting to work on this in freecad, just have no very clear idea of what's actually needed.. It seems to me the most important part would be a good collection of assets, stretchable tubes and ducts, connectors, appliances, valves, etc...

  • Would agree with @brunopostle and @Moult that the project should be small, however, I think, even a small renovation project, where we try and model all the disciplines (A/M/E/P/S/FP), would still be too much to chew and take on. It would get really complicated, really quickly--there's too many subtleties we'd have to address in the exchanges.

    I think we should go even smaller, with a hyper reduced scope.

    I would suggest doing something like @yorik and I have been doing with OpeningDetail.com--that is, helping A/E firms draft/model/develop their small scale details.

    Repos of past projects: https://github.com/OpeningDETAIL

    Visual examples: http://openingdetail.com/gallery/

    As I mentioned, in the meeting yesterday, small scale details are about a 1/3 of a typical construction set--so there's relatively large scope of potential work there.

    To model these details requires are very small subset of the IFC schema. That is, to compose these details we only need to deal with a few entities such as IfcExtrudedAreaSolid and IfcMaterial, among a few others.

    The smaller the subset of the schema we have to deal with, the more we can concentrate on the fidelity of the roundtripping. And in turn, build on this small subset over time.

    The other aspect I don't think we should ignore, and was mentioned by @duncan, is that adoption of Blender and Freecad and the other open source tools mentioned here, will not, more than likely, happen wholesale, but instead will happen quicker if these tools can add or augment the predominant tools the industry (Revit/Architect/etc.)

    That is, if we can find small little ways (wedges) that someone can use Blender/Freecad, but still add to the Revit/ArchiCAD output stack, the quicker the adoption could be.

    Realistically, most A/E firms that would only hire a detailing service like OpeningDETAIL, if the end product could be reused in their BIM tools. That is, they would not just settle for a PDF of the details.

    Another reason to use a very small subset of the schema is that it would make it easier to build additional technical services/products around that content. For example, by just using simple extrusion and materials, it would easier to develop very robust diffing and distributed merge control systems (like git) --as you no longer have to deal with be baroque hierarchy of the full fledged IFC schema.

    These are avenues where the 'wedge of value' can be widened over time.

    With these details, although the scope is reduced, I still think we can pull in the participation of multiple disciplines. That is for example, a structural detail could be pushed back and forth between a structural engineer and architect resulting in (1) coordinated detail, verses (2) versions of the same detail--one in the ARCH's set and one in the STRUCT's set--which are rarely fully coordinated.

    This same (1) detail coordination could apply to other disciplines a well.


    The objective, for me is to realize workflows that produce content that is not reliant on the tool that created it--similar to how code is not reliant on the IDE, or a website is not reliant on specific browser.

    For me, I see this OSArch group as a way to realize that objective.

  • @yorik I disagree with your assumption on MEP. A good collection of assets is not BIM, it's just 3D. Don't waste your time making some clunky MEP stuff or you'll get something as in ArchiCAD. There is still so much to do in architecture field. Multiple people on FreeCAD forum have showed interest for MEP field let them try or wait for someone else. In my opinion the best you can do is working on the core of FreeCAD and BIM workbench. A strong core and BIM workbench will attract developers for other specialised fields like there is already in structural field. (when I mean strong I also talk about UI/UX)

  • Sure, I wasn't trying to give a bold statement on MEP ;) rather to understand better. So far on the FC forum many people are indeed talking, but i still didn't get a clear idea of the kind of tools needed...

  • I am a landscape designer and planner and would potentially be interested in being involved in this project. I use QGIS heavily and lately have been trying to figure out how to round trip between QGIS>Blender>CAD would be excited to see how QGIS could fit into the flow you are describing. We use QGIS on projects as small as 1/2 acre (.2 hectare) to do to micro drainage analysis, solar analysis as well as survey import. I want to thank Molt for the BlenderBIM plugin as it have allowed me to work with architects using who are using Revit and keep things in 3D without having to use the very limited as far as I can tell site grading functionalities of Revit. I am also looking forward to trying out Yorik's work in FreeCAD.

  • @baswein I'd be interested to dig more into QGIS workflow... Up to now I only used it basically either to draw plans/maps, or to produce a DXF from GIS data obtained from city GIS websites...

    Would you give some ideas of things you think would be achievable? Maybe some examples of what you are doing with it? QGIS is, like Blender and FreeCAD, highly integratable, there might be a lot of interesting stuff to do there...

    Maybe best to start a new thread to not pollute this one, actually.

Sign In or Register to comment.