At Hunters South Architects we have always strived to be at the forefront of new technology and software to enable us to not only streamline our workflow but also impress our clients. What seemed like the last major jump in technology at our practice, the leap from AutoCAD to Revit Architecture, was a no brainer. As well as all of the advances that Revit gives you for creating models, it also has a great internal rendering engine. However, this is fairly slow and takes up a huge amount of computer resources.
Autodesk then introduced the Cloud Rendering, along with the ‘Stereo Panoramic Render’, which enabled us to enter into the world of Virtual Reality or ‘VR’, for the first time. We purchased some “Google Cardboard” VR viewers and were able to produce imagery that left our clients feeling as if they had a view to the future. We primarily used this as a finishes tool, allowing clients to experience certain areas of the project, and then talk through options once they were immersed into the space in VR. However, this process took time to re-render certain areas and certainly wasn’t a “user experience” that anyone would remember.
This has led us to where we are now; Enscape3D. Since our first steps into VR we have looked at many different software solutions including some pretty intensive programmes like Unreal Engine. Whilst this proved to be one of the better options, it involved learning a fairly complex package. That just wasn’t really sustainable for an entire office.
Virtual Reality and Visualisation
Someone in the office then stumbled across a video of the Enscape software. This was sent around the office. At first glance it looked to be just what we were looking for. We immediately downloaded a free trial and started to get to grips with it. Very soon, it became apparent that this was exactly what we needed, potentially for VR, but also for fast production of visualisations.
Using the add-on, Enscape loads straight from the Revit tool ribbon. Once your model is loaded into Enscape, you will see a direct representation of your model, and can start to walk around in real-time. The inclusion of ArchVision content is a real bonus as it brings people and vegetation to life. Flat 2D people and trees from Revit are interpreted into 3D models.
The ability to control shadows, sun, clouds, depth of field, and lens flare; all in real-time and all at the touch of a button is only a small amount of what Enscape can do. The ability to test materials, update your model and see the change immediately is a huge benefit. Client engagement meetings are now much more hands on. We take a laptop with Revit / Enscape installed, and take clients through the building. We can make changes there and then, and get client sign off because they can see and understand how something will look in the finished project.
Frequent updates from the Enscape team that are based on real-time user feedback is encouraging; they are listening to the users and reacting to make Enscape a one size fits all piece of software.
Co-ordination and Clash Detection
Whilst Enscape is great for visualisation and VR, it’s also a comprehensive addition to co-ordination and clash detection. Working within a BIM environment coordination is a major factor. Coordinating multiple consultant models including Structural and M&E is a complex task, for which we generally use Navisworks. However, having the ability to use Enscape in a coordination meeting and walk consultants around the issues, helps to articulate those problems in a way that Navisworks or Revit may not be able to.
As Architects, its paramount that the information we produce is on time, is of high quality, and is co-ordinated. Our clients need to be sure that their expectations will be met, and that there will be no surprises. With Enscape in our armour, we feel we are in a much stronger position to deliver on these promises.
We’re excited to see what Enscape3D has to offer in the future and will endeavour to provide user feedback along the way to help others.