Brisbane architectural firm Elevation Architecture’s use of ARCHICAD Twinmotion plugin is a ‘win-win’ for business and its clients
Central Innovation • 5 June 2020
Brisbane-based Elevation Architecture is using Twinmotion’s Direct Link ARCHICAD plugin to transform its ARCHICAD 3D models into an immersive Virtual Reality experience for clients – and is experiencing faster workflows as a result, along with deeper insights into its own projects.
Elevation Architecture is a longtime ARCHICAD user and currently has 19 licenses, as business owner Greg Adsett confirms. “Back when we started looking at CAD software, the latest iteration was 6.5 and it was clearly the best 3D CAD software on the market, which is why we went with it. We’ve stuck with ARCHICAD ever since – and when we bring in new staff who’ve had experience with other packages, their feedback is usually that the outputs may be similar but ARCHICAD is more intuitive and easier to use.
“These days each new iteration doesn’t necessarily bring the big leaps and bounds of the past, so we always ask ourselves the question: is it worth upgrading? Because it’s a big commitment to change the templates and make the updates. But we’ve found every time that’s there’s been enough features and improvements to make the update worthwhile – so we haven’t skipped one. In fact next week we’re rolling out ARCHICAD 23 which we’ll be using for every new project going forward.
“So we are big believers in and advocates for ARCHICAD – I still have the box to 6.5 here at home to remind me of my ARCHICAD journey! And we’ve received good assistance and support from Central Innovation whenever we’ve done updates – they keep us up to date with regard to library extensions, and we take advantage of their training modules and send our key staff along.”
More recently Elevation Architecture has begun using the Twinmotion 3D immersive visualisation package, taking advantage of its Direct Link plugin with ARCHICAD which enables one-click synchronization of geometry and BIM information between ARCHICAD and Twinmotion. In fact the choice to trial Twinmotion was taken before the plugin was available – rendering it a serendipitous decision for the Elevation Architecture team.
“When we decided to go down the VR route, I chose two guys in my team to roadtest packages that they thought would work best with ARCHICAD, and one of them was Twinmotion,” Greg recalls. “We had gone a fair way down that path when Central Innovation told us about the ARCHICAD Direct Link plugin for Twinmotion. It was like a happy marriage: the software we wanted to use was being partnered with the primary CAD package we were already using – from our perspective it seemed it was meant to be!”
Twinmotion enables the production of high quality images, panoramas and 360-degree VR videos in seconds. “We wanted to be able to provide clients with a VR experience on all our projects,” Greg says. “It’s a terrific value-add with a twofold benefit. First, we gain a deeper insight into the project ourselves – even though we’re utilising 3D within ARCHICAD all the time, Twinmotion allows us to go in and experience everything more fully, so we can ‘feel’ the space. From a design perspective, that’s great.
“It’s also a big benefit for our clients. As design professionals we can know what a space will look like by viewing it in plan and elevation, but most clients don’t understand what a plan’s saying: it’s just a series of connected spaces. When you provide great 3D images they gain a better understanding, but Twinmotion goes a step further and provides a virtual experience of the space before it’s even constructed.”
Dalbert Ton, Elevation Architecture’s Twinmotion lead, adds that Twinmotion provides clients with the freedom to “experience the space without any restrictions of the peripheral view – as opposed to a fly-through where you’re basically taking them along a pre-planned path. In Twinmotion, whoever’s wearing the VR headset can basically ‘teleport’ wherever they want within the total space, and that is a much better interface for us to be able to convey our concepts to the client.”
Elevation Architecture’s projects typically encompass all aspects from architectural design through to fitout – utilising the firm’s inhouse interior design team. “Twinmotion has pushed us to become more detail-focused earlier on in the process,” Dalbert explains. “When you allow clients to experience the space virtually and they can look wherever they want, there’s really nowhere to hide – it means you have to think more holistically, rather than in a plan view, from a very early stage.”
Dalbert says response from clients has been uniformly positive.
“To be honest, some clients want to spend more time in the Twinmotion simulation than we can actually provide. Once they get a taste of what they can experience, they really start to get into it! We’ve had meetings last longer than an hour with the client just walking through the space.”
Greg Adsett cites the example of a recent client for whom Elevation Architecture is designing a childcare centre. “Thanks to Twinmotion they were able to see the internal design elements, the theming, décor and colour scheme – that helps them say, ‘yes, what you’re doing here is right’ or ‘that’s not working out the way we thought, let’s think about changing it to something else’. And even with our clients who are skilled at understanding what we do and can interpret plans and drawings, the VR experience enables them to say ‘Now we understand more fully and we can provide more appropriate feedback to you, the architect’.
“So response times are quicker, which at the end of the day speeds up our workflow. The Twinmotion plugin is certainly saving us time in the projects we’ve used it in to date,” Greg affirms. “Its ability to give the client a greater understanding of the concept while also enabling us to complete the design process faster makes it a win-win for both parties.”