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Ctrl Space’s move to ARCHICAD… with a little help from Central Innovation

Central Innovation 30 October 2018

Ctrl space’s move to archicad… with a little help from central innovation

For the past decade New Zealand firm Ctrl Space has been providing commercial design and interior architecture services, primarily focusing on the hospitality sector. “We do a lot of medium to high end fitouts of bars, restaurants and cafes, with some master planning and a bit of retail. We’ve always been more skewed towards architecture than interior design, in that we offer more integration with base build services,” explains Director Chris Stevens.

From the outset Ctrl Space was Autocad-based and 2D drafting formed the backbone of its documentation. But as the years progressed, so did the expectation from clients in terms of visualisation. “Nowadays people expect visualisations in 3D, as opposed to marker pens and crayons and a lot of talk – they want to see the concept rather than just have it explained to them,” Chris points out. “Our workflow had been based on Sketchup, Autocad and Photoshop and rendering around that. But we were starting to do a lot more conceptual work, and to move from Sketchup through to buildable, priceable architectural drawings essentially we had to redraw everything, so that was the tipping point for us to look at a system which would plug that gap.”

Central Innovation began assisting Ctrl Space with this process in early 2017. “One of the key factors which helped push us in the right direction was that we brought on board a new staff member who was an absolute champion for ARCHICAD, and she was constantly selling the merits of working with the platform,” Chris remembers. “At the same time, Central Innovation was advising how ARCHICAD could work for us, so it was all quite serendipitous – everything came together and it all made sense.”

The move to ARCHICAD streamlined what had been a somewhat convoluted workflow and eliminated issues around data transfer which adversely impacted stakeholder collaboration. Of course Chris needed to upskill his team in use of the new platform – a process in which Central Innovation provided invaluable help.

“From a professional development point of view it was great to give the team a leg-up in learning a new platform. We had a big uptake from the staff, and Central Innovation were really good at making themselves available for additional training. We started off with basic training sessions over three days – obviously we couldn’t afford to lose the whole team from the office in one hit, so we did the training in stages and Central Innovation were terrific at facilitating that. They were very amenable in fitting in with what was going to work for us as a business.”

The unexpected departure of Chris’ ARCHICAD champion staff member during the transition meant it took longer than anticipated – “but we knew we had to rip the bandaid off and dig in, boots and all. Central Innovation’s dockets and helpdesk system was invaluable in making the process very straightforward and accessible, so that side of things was great.”

Chris acknowledges that transitions to new platforms are never entirely seamless. “It was a good six to nine months of work, moving from one platform to another, and of course deadlines don’t wait and neither do clients or accounts. At one point we had to commit to a project and there was some talk initially of doing parts of it one platform and other parts on another, but we decided against that – we said no, we have to embrace this and make it work and so we worked through it. We got some things wrong and had to make fixes, but that process of trial and error is probably the best way to learn. So in some ways it was a difficult transition, but the saving grace is knowing it’s for the greater good – we’re bringing in a smarter process and at the end of the day, this is where the industry’s heading.”

Having reached the light at the end of the tunnel, Chris and the Ctrl Space team are still learning more each day about how to get the best out of the new platform. “We’re playing a long game,” Chris says, “but with each project we do, it gets better and easier, and most recently we’ve been in touch with Central Innovation on further rendering and visualisation options. The recent release of the Enscape plug-in provides high quality, fast renders, so we’ll be able to use that with ARCHICAD to plug another gap.”

Looking ahead, Chris wants to speed up some of the input processes and says there are probably some hardware considerations to follow up. “From a raw documentation point of view, I’m very happy with how the drawing sheets are progressing, but the visualisation side of things is still a work in progress. It’s all about fine-tuning the workflow – we want to make sure we’re getting the best use out of the software and hardware we have, making sure we have the right plugins and that they’re all working as efficiently as possible within the system.

“Having said that, I know I only have to pick up the phone and call Central Innovation and I’ll get very quick feedback – they come back to me in less than a day to answer my queries about what’s happening in a particular space and how they’re planning to plug that gap.”

Chris says he’s particularly impressed with Central Innovation’s commitment to aftersales service and following up. “You always have a fear of being sold a dream, and then when you get on to the new platform you find you’ve been left adrift. But at no point did we feel that we were left high and dry. The whole Central Innovation team have done a sterling job of, ultimately, making me feel comfortable about the transition. At the end of the day, it’s no small investment, but I feel it’s money very well spent and I know I’ll be getting the benefits moving forward.”