Friday, April 10, 2015

Spaces instead of Areas

Area plans have their quirks. They can only exist in their own special area plan views. They've got rules and quite often people want to break those rules. If we need to do that then we end up sketching boundaries a lot. Areas don't know anything about Rooms either. That means we're probably going to have to enter some data twice if we must use Areas pretending to be Rooms, all to document fussy Room area requirements

If that's the situation we find ourselves we have access to MEP's Spaces? If so we could consider...this...

The plan in this image is an architectural model (yeah really simple mock-up). Is it obvious what I've done? I've got Room tags reporting area only as well as Space tags reporting a little different area value along with Room name and number. It also has a Color Scheme applied to Room departments.

It's also a separate model I called Area Calcs. I linked the Architecture model into Area Calcs. The Room tags I mentioned a moment ago are actually Room tags, tagging each room's area in the link. For Spaces however I opted to just sketch Space Separators over the linked model since I need to identify different parts of the room's boundaries to calculate area anyway. A Space isn't different from a Room when we rely on walls for their boundary, in how they calculate area at least. Sketching our lines gives us complete control over the results without dealing with Area Rules.

A Space Separator is a linestyle (like Area Boundary and Room Separator) and I changed the appearance to a much thicker burgundy line so it stands out against the linked file's plan. I ended up applying transparency to Walls too. Once I defined the boundaries I needed I used the Space tool and opted for Place Spaces Automatically. This creates a Space wherever one is possible within the boundaries I've created. This is done floor by floor, assuming there is more than one floor.

Just in case you weren't aware of this already, a linked file has a Room Bounding option.

If this option is selected then Place Spaces Automatically creates Spaces wherever Revit finds Rooms and valid boundaries even where there aren't any rooms (note my interior design comment later). Since I need to define room area differently that's not going to help me now. It's intended to speed up the process for engineers while they are preparing their project to start work.

Now that I've got Spaces I can take advantage of a separate tool called Space Naming Utility (SNU). It is crazy that this tool is still a separate installation but it is. At least it isn't locked away in subscription only access anymore. I keep hoping it will show up inside Revit in the next release.

Sorry I digress, it (SNU) will read (from the linked file) each room's name and number and pass it to the equivalent Space's name and number.

One risk here is Revit might not figure out which Room is supposed to be related to a Space. However, if we examine the properties of a Space we'll see right away whether Revit can see a room relationship or not. Plus any Spaces that don't update will be a clue or at least identify a Room that hasn't been filled out with information properly yet. I'm hoping to apply the 80/20 rule here and win.

If I want to use Fill Patterns too, like below, I can create a separate view that only shows a customized Color Scheme that applies Fill Patterns instead of a solid color fill. Then I just stack (overlay) this view on top of the other floor plan on a sheet. I just need to make sure the view is using Wireframe so it doesn't mask the floor plan.

I can even add a separate Color Scheme legend to the other view that's stacked over the floor plan.

Choosing this route might come down to how I answer these questions:
  • Do I have Spaces? (Are they part of the Revit version I use?)
  • Which is worse, sketching Space Separators or Area Boundaries?
  • Which is more fun, using Space Naming Utility or manually updating Area data to match relevant Room data?
  • If I know a Dynamo/API programmer then maybe I can improve the Room to Area process instead?
This popped into my head last evening while I was mulling over a client's email. I've suggested using Spaces in the past to help deal with linked interior design models so this time around it didn't seem quite as crazy to me as it did the first time.

Want to poke around the files (Revit 2015) I used for this post?

Area Plans
Area Calcs

Your mileage may vary...

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