Candidacy on the RIBA Office Based Examination Part 2

I am officially on the RIBA OBE (Part 2) course, as of the beginning of March, and I’m actually really enjoying it. It’s a fairly intense process though – since I have 3 papers to be handed in by the 1st of May: a dissertation synopsys; design modules and an examination on law to study for. Apart from that, it’s very relaxing.One of the nice things about the course is that it encourages you to look into fields – not necessarily in architecture – that interest you, in order to read around a variety of subjects and see how other disciplines can relate to architecture. For example, in my technological study paper I will be studying Lichens as a viable alternative to the recent trend of green roofs. It’s an odd topic, but one which explores an extremely interesting organism. Hopefully, through my research I will be able to find a realistic way to use Lichens as a facade.

Rendering showing a ‘lichenised facade’

Fun facts:

  • Lichens are neither classified a fungi or moss, but actually a combination of algae and fungi working in symbiosis.
  • Lichen can only photosynthesise when it’s wet, moisture allows the algae to produce sugars when the outermost layers of moss turn transparent – this is why lichens nearly always turn green when it rains.
  • Some colonies of lichen count as some of the oldest living organisms on the planet.

New Dwelling – Tavistock

These are some photos of a (nearly) completed house that I worked on for Rogers and Jones Architects a while ago, in order to gain planning and building regulations approval for a bespoke residence located on the outskirts of Tavistock in Devon.

The design features an integrated garage and master bedroom above. The front projecting box window with full height glazing gives the building a contemporary look, which is then surrounded by powder-grey cedral cladding wrapping down from the roof.

Front elevation, for building regulations
Floor plans

The modern glass-sheet-effect porch design being hung via wound steel cable provides a light and minimalist entrance. The interior features a generous open plan kitchen and living space with large bifolding doors leading out to the garden.

Standard Doors – Free Dynamic CAD Block

Everyone loves free dynamic CAD blocks!

The other day I was trying to find a standard dynamic block for single leaf doors – ideally in metric and imperial sizes – I couldn’t find one anywhere so I decided to make my own.

I quite enjoy making dynamic blocks in AutoCAD – sad I know, but in the long run it seems to save the office time if they can reuse these components, rather than having hundreds of alternative sizes saved on file.

The block itself comes in standard metric and imperial sizes – with a lookup for the structural openings, as well as references for the leaf sizes. It can also be tweaked to fit almost all openings and wall thicknesses with AutoCAD’s parametric stretching.

How to use it

Here it is in action

Some additional info

  • The door handle is a nestled block – feel free to edit the block named Handle and it should update all the doors.
  • Doors are shown at 35mm thick and the lining is shown with a simple rabetted jamb.
  • Door references are also shown in the middle of the door opening, you can edit reference text by double clicking the block, or you can remove it by turning off the A-Z22132-T-DoorReference layer.
  • Door swing is shown at 90 degrees.
  • File version is AutoCAD DWG 2004

Please note: I do not take any responsibility for the usage of any of this information. Please take all the measurements indicated with a pinch of salt, standard door sizes may vary between countries.

Update 05-02-2018:
Following comments saying the download link was broken, I have now uploaded a new version of the door file — please let me know if you have any issues! Note: you need AC2007 at the least, in order to use this block object.

View other high quality CAD blocks in my online shop

Purchase useful, money saving packs of blocks for your practice or design firm! With packs such as the Beautiful Trees CAD Blocks set, and the new Detailed People – Silhouette People Dynamic CAD Blocks. High quality, impactful CAD blocks can be yours for as little as $1 per block!


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(Right click > Save as) Open in Autocad and enjoy!


Grade II Listed Building Extension

These are some sketchy perspective images I put together for a planning application submission on a Grade II listed building extension in South Devon. Originally there was an old lean-to garage/workshop and adjoining conservatory space connecting the the main house. To inject new life into the extension we proposed to use the thick wrapping, retaining wall to the back of the existing extension and to create a sleek living/lobby/kitchen unit with contemporary corrugated iron roof planes to both project back over the wall and to create rear high level lighting for the main rooms.

The basic 3D model for this has influenced the design greatly, in playing with the relationship between extension and original house, as well as seeing how the spaces could be stepped. I thought it would be quite nice to use the model to create these sketchy perspective views of the proposal. Made using Rhinoceros 3D and Photoshop+Wacom tablet/pen.

Site Plan: Tavistock Road

Sometimes after going through the rigmarole of submitting hyper-detailed building regulations drawings on AutoCAD, it’s nice to take the drawing back to its roots and add a little colour to inject some life into the project – this was some work done today in Adobe Illustrator for marketing purposes. The site plan sets out the houses on Tavistock Road I created a visualisation for in an earlier post on this site (block C).

Trees from Dosch birds eye view trees, with a watercolour filter applied in Adobe Photoshop, all other textures created using layer styles and washed-out pastel colours.

Tavistock Road Marketing Siteplan, coloured

Vray – The Making of ‘Tavistock Road’

A Rendering / Modelling Tutorial for Rhino + Vray

Some recent work done for Rogers and Jones Architects for a local developer – these buildings are actually being built on site currently, but the company required some marketing images to help sell the scheme. For those interested, I’ve included a short tutorial below on how I went about rendering this scene.

General Modeling view, taken from Rhinoceros
Row of houses in-situ, being modelled
Closeup of guttering being modelled

For the blocks, I imported the CAD drawing over to Rhinoceros 3D and used the information to build up the unit types. I even modelled the cedral effect cladding used on site. Thanks to the NURBs modelling, curved shapes like the half-round guttering were a doddle to manipulate. I used sample XFrog trees to help fill in the site’s foliage – they import quite nicely into Rhino. (Although many others say that it’s faster to export to 3DS Max before rendering, I don’t have that luxury available to me and the Vray plugin for Rhino seems to work just fine.)

Nothing too out of the ordinary here – loosely based on the “Making of Griehallen” render settings posted to Ronen Beckerman’s site a few weeks ago. Simply used a medium/high quality Irradiance Map and Light Cache at a resolution of 4000px wide. Importantly, I used Peter Guthries’ HDRI skies to light the environment with a cloudy/sunny day setting.

The fun stuff – Photoshop post processing

Here’s where I tend to really enjoy adding a little flare to my renders, so lots of blur/dodge/burning to the image done, and also adding entourage (from Gobotree) for a sense of dynamism in the scene. Admittedly, I’m still not 100% happy with the people placed in this scene, since the lighting in the photographs must have differed to the rendering, but I feel it’s always important to give the rendering a sense of scale. Also, I tend to find that exporting the alpha and material IDs with the Vray render makes things a lot easier – for instance you can use the materials to select the whole road at once and then apply it as a mask to a texture, rather than manually selecting the area.