Separately from the Mystery Mockup, but still very much connected to it in the methodology, is the full spectrum of the interior to the Solar Decathlon cabinetry. While the mockup was altered slightly to test every element of the cabinets that needed to be tested, the full array of cabinets demonstrate the design of the entire interior as well as the connection details necessary for construction. Following the process of modeling the boxes in SketchUp, the team needed to transition to the 3D modeling program Revit for multiple reasons. The first necessity was combining our model with the model the team in Clemson worked on. Their base model contains all of the exterior walls and construction, porch, and MEP elements. Revit is also what the Department of Energy required our submissions to be in. One of our additional assumptions was that Revit could translate individual parts into the files needed to cut the CNC parts (hence we optimistically chose to model EVERY SINGLE CONNECTION between panels).
For having limited time to complete this model and the added factor of several people picking up Revit for the first time, the model turned out to be extremely successful in many ways!! This process was very consuming and difficult for the team, but there was a breadth of valuable lessons we learned and self critique we were able to apply to the project. Some of these things are as follows:
1. No, we couldn’t just easily export each panel out as a cut file. One of the tricky things in Revit is the concept of ‘family’ modeling – you create a panel separately from the model then bring it into the 3D model – we chose to model directly into the 3D model so we could see the other panels and connections. This prevented us from saving each panel as an individual file.
2. Sketchup/CAD is still the most effective way to create the model and files simultaneously. Say you have a panel in the 3D model, and a second identical panel that is outside the model and placed on the ground plane to export it to CAD. If you alter one of either of those panels, it will change the other one as well. Revit does not have this capability depending on what method is used to model.
3. It will always be a challenge when you have many people on a team who all know different programs at different levels to select one program to use. Everyone on our team has at some point needed to pick up a new program and hit a steep learning curve. But this has been a great experience to expand all of our skill bases for jumping in and out of different programs.
4. We could have saved a ton of time modeling just the panels and not the connections since we could not produce cut files from Revit. However, this aided our understanding of how each box would work and connect to the other boxes, a valuable lesson in understanding and refining our design.
Overall, the result was very well received by visitors at the official unveiling of Indigo Pine. The innovation of making storage better by completely eliminating interior partitions is a key feature of the original design proposal. There are still many things to be worked through, such as sound attenuation, storage space proportions, and edge conditions of the plywood, but we are enthusiastic and optimistic as the next group of design build students take over this portion of the house for refinement and construction!