[SLICE] – SKETCHUP MODELING TECHNIQUES

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Project by : Spiros Koulias

SLICE is a dissertation project that I entirely designed in SketchUp. The building was designed in order to accommodate war refugees. The last few years, this has been a major issue all over the world, and no actual solution has been found to it. I see every day, thousands of refugees trying to find a shelter, even just for a few days, and that made me decide, that I had to create a large-scale building, that would accommodate everyone. Another factor that I had to take into consideration, was the building’s location. Most refugees arrive with small boats in coasts with dangerous cliffs. So I had to design a building on a rocky coast, without making it enormous. That is how I ended up with this result, where the largest part of the building is embedded in the ground and the rocks.

I believe that SketchUp is the perfect software to design in large scale, especially in this project where I had to combine landscape, environment, the exterior shell of the building and its’interior spaces. Further down, you will see the whole design process of this project.

It took me a lot of tests, in order to come up with the exterior shell that you see. SketchUp is the perfect software for that specific reason, that you can perform a lot of changes on your model with just a few simple steps. Drawing in SketchUp may look complex and difficult, but it begins with very basic tools and shapes, like a simple square as you can see in image 1. I always begin my design, having in mind that I am drawing my model in 2D, and I use of course the SketchUp guides so that we have the exact dimensions of the building. To draw the curved line that you see in image 2, on the front side of the model, I use the Bezier tool, from the BZ_Toolbar plugin. This tool allows me to edit the curve however I want. I select 2 points on the line, and give a certain direction to it, just like I would do with the 2 Point Arc tool. In order to create that dynamic curve at the top of the building, I selected, with the Move tool, the top left corner of the rectangle, and dragged it down for 20 meters. At this point, I must tell you that the building i am designing is 100 meters high, and has 20 floors.

I created a vertical opening, inside the building, as you can see in image 4 because I want the pieces to communicate with each other. Finally, I added 4.5 meters of surface at the bottom of the model, because I want to create space for more uses inside the building. This part of the building will be under the sea level when seen from the outside. With 5 simple steps, I designed the first part of my building.

By extruding the surface, I basically create the first of six vertical elements, that form the basic shell of my building. The rest is very simple, just copy and paste by using the Move tool and pressing Ctrl button, multiplied by 5 times, for the final model. The only thing that is left now, is to change the height of each piece, one by one. During the last years, I discovered the power that the Move tool can have, and how easily I can edit the existing model by using it, just by selecting the correct line. That is how we can extend things in SketchUp. It doesn’t just move lines, but it can also move the surfaces that are connected to this line, and create new surfaces where needed. This is what happens in image 9, by selecting only the line at the top of the model, and then moving it with the Move tool, upwards along the blue axis. I do the same thing for every vertical element, by changing the height each time. The model is now complete.

The easiest way to design a landscape, and without any plugins, is with the Sandbox tools that SketchUp already has.  So in order to create the vertical cliff, I used the first tool «From Scratch» and selected the size of the land I wanted to create. Before designing anything, I need to know first of all the dimensions of the model I want to create. This tool, allowed me to create a rectangle surface divided by a grid, as you can see in image 10. Then by choosing the second tool from this collection, “Smoove”, I begin to extrude this surface, by creating a curved terrain. I keep on moving up and down, and editing the terrain, as long as it takes in order to create the form I want, image 13. The Sandbox Toolbar is the perfect tool if you want to draw curved terrains, like fields, hills, cliffs and especially when you don’t need to design the entire landscape.

It is certain that when you add the right texture on any surface, no matter what shape it has, it can change the whole model. The choice of texture is very important, as well as the scale of the model. If we enter the wrong scale, then the terrain will look fake and it will ruin the final result of our model. We can edit the color and change it in many different ways since the texture is just a jpeg image.

Next step of the design process, is to place the building in the landscape. In order to make my model look more realistic, I will use a trick that it’s not only used in SketchUp, but in 3D designing in general. I Copy and Paste the cliff, and I Flip it Along and place the new cliff next to the first one, image 18. That way, we save a lot of time, and we manage to create a larger cliff easily. Then, to correct the connections point between the two cliffs, since they don’t match perfectly with each other, I cut a small piece from each cliff, and right in the middle of them, I place my building. To do that, I placed two vertical surfaces, with a distance between them equal to my buildings length, and then use the Intersect Faces tool, and cut each cliff in 2 pieces. Then I choose only the inside parts of the cliffs and delete them as you can see in images 20,21. Now, the opening for my building is precise.

On the exterior facade of the building, I have designed the bedrooms, that expand vertically on 17 floors, with each floor being 3.2 meters high. In order to avoid having the same sizes of bedrooms on every floor, I designed 4 different bedroom sizes, and placed them in a random order on each floor, and created a type of mosaic, like you can see in step 2. The design that you can see in step 3, was created with the use of an amazing Plugin, the Random PushPull. With this specific Plugin, we have the ability, to choose simultaneously more than one surfaces, and then type a minimum and a maximum number. Then the Plugin will give to every chosen surface, a random length, between the two number that we typed. The bedrooms are complete once we created the walls of them, and to do that we need to Offset 25cm, and then PushPull until a certain point.

I have chosen that my building will consist of 17 floors, that will accommodate the basic spaces of it, and of course the bedrooms on the exterior side, as mentioned before. I create the first floor, and then I use the Move tool while pressing the Ctrl button, I copy and paste every 3.5 meters, moving upwards, to create the remaining floors. My model is almost ready. I just need to place the bedrooms on each floor now. This will happen right away, since I have measured from the beginning the height of each bedroom, to fit exactly the height of each floor.

All the bedrooms are now at their place, and there is one finishing touch left, that will be done manually. Ideally, I would like every bedroom floor, to follow the large exterior curve of the building.

In order to do that, I select each bedroom separately, and with the Push/Pull tool, I increase each bedroom’s size, as much as it needs, to create the final result I want. Which is the random position of bedrooms. I also delete some bedrooms, because I want to create some greenery areas on the facade of the building.

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