KAPSARC and Satellier

By Arvind bhandari Sr posted 11-08-2012 00:50


King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) is located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital and largest city. Riyadh, located in the center of the Arabian Peninsula on a large plateau, has experienced very high rates of population growth, from 150,000 inhabitants in the 1960s to approximately 5 million people today.  The project is located on 200 hectares between the outskirts of Riyadh and King Khalid International Airport (KKIA), just north of the proposed Princess Nora Bin Adulrahman University.  Designed by Zaha Hadid with all aesthetically parameters of Modern and Muslim Architecture. KAPSARC consists of five major buildings interconnected under single steel structure roof. 


Saudi Aramco and DSI have contracted the services of Satellier India Pvt. Ltd. to develop the BIM model for KAPSARC. This was a big opportunity for Satellier to open up the doors of success towards Middle East and the rest of the globe, so all eyes are looking for the success, when the recession of 2009/10 was just over.

“Before any building is built, any construction commenced, it all starts with an idea, and that idea must get put down on paper, communicating everything from the grandest vision down to the smallest brick. That takes great talent, and skill. Satellier have been fortunate to get to turn the ideas of many gifted architects into reality “this is my vision about KAPSARC... designed by Legendary Architect Zaha Hadid and groups

Want to share my experiences and few methods how we achieved success in Structure and Architecture modeling on KAPSARC project with the help of learning materials and few working methodology doing in Revit-2011. Before starting the modeling, the complexity and geometry of the buildings brought various doubts in the minds of big shots of the Revit users, few discussions happened all the time around studio each professional was looking and searching for the start point of the project. The entire capable professional within studio disagreed to involve himself or herself into the KAPSARC Project. Management people who actually signed the contract without looking into to contents of the contract, they started looking for the person who will step forward and take the responsibility of project Manager. Only choice for the management was Babika Goel (Sr. Architect) the fearless, dedicated, extraordinary; incredible professional…she ironically takes charge and stands as a loon warrior in front for mission KAPSARC. The project “KAPSARC” had few stages to qualify the competition of modeling with “Garry technologies and Designs”. During the competition stage, a large portion of the project was to be created as RCT Building, but the main task was to develop a model that would enable DSI to produce a 3D model for all services and drawings in the shortest time possible. During first submission stage 30% of KAPSARC project, DSI and Aramco peoples had the final decision at our office during their visit and identify part of project work for stage-1. RCT & ITC Buildings that would complete the project stage-1 i.e. 30%.

Revit Structural’s capabilities, such as automatic drawing extraction, dramatically reduced the time needed to produce 2D documentation. Since we didn't have to worry about that part of our workload, we could focus on the 3D model,” team decided. “And using a Revit-2011 structure saved us quite a bit of time. We believe that we can use the best traits of two programs (Rhino and Revit) to facilitate the creation of Architecture and Structural model with support of IFC document of the Kapsarc project’ developed at Zaha Hadid’s office. Rhino model for all buildings was also developed by them we use them for our references, as advised by DSI & Aramco. The task was huge & mighty but time line was less for each submission stages.

I experimented with scripting on rhino. Using the morph dynamic script, I created a wall similar to one we referenced. There were failed attempts to import it into Revit.  We believe this is because of the mesh objects that Rhino creates and Revit has trouble reading. We are exploring different options in Rhino such as creating the mesh into a polygon or looking for other tutorials/case studies for Revit. I myself experimented with  the help of Satellier's tutorials and with help of our young talent's of Revit professionals working with Satellier (like Arjun, Anupam, Veenus, Rajesh, Harsh, Anjana etc) team starts with the structure model of RCT Building. Work assignments, file distribution start taking place and few new Revit professionals were haired for the job. I found myself within Structure Team. I involve myself with all happening activities and start exploring the project to initiate the task assigned to me and I started with the Column layout for RCT building. With help of column schedule provided, each column contains all coordinates X, Y, Z and most of them were inclined to the floor surface. Initially this looks hard and impossible to complete the task within period allotted, but after placing few columns perfectly per X, Y, Z coordinates, and the feel of visualizing the structure starts concreting my confidence and other team members too. Rest of the team was also facing problems during their task, but each one was ready to support each other, which actually increase the confidence level of team member.

The most complex form that we have experimented with to date is a Musalla Building (a worship place for Muslims). Complex curved planar surfaces cannot be read by Revit to transform into walls, facade, windows etc. Here were our steps in successfully uploading an editable object and blocks into Revit.  Created Musalla in Rhino 4.0 from Zaha Hadid's office I have Saved Musalla rhino model as a .sat file and uploaded it as a Revit family under massing model saved the massing model and uploaded it as a family into a project file Under massing selected “place mass” Make sure place on work plane is selected in the options bar We changed our faces into a Ribs, wall, facade, curtain walls into the Musalla model! Since our method of placing a family in Revit was unsuccessful the first time, we decided to start from scratch in Rhino again.  Instead of cutting multiple voids out of a solid rectangle, we only used one void.  This would simplify the process down so we could figure out why Revit was not cooperating.  We followed the same steps as before, and were successful in importing this object as a family in a Revit Project

Once the family was loaded into a Project file, we modified the mass into an actual wall.  It only needed one face of the object to do this, so we could further simplify our process by only importing a Face from Rhino to Revit.  We decided to use our previous scripting pattern again, but now only using it with a face instead of a solid object.

The geometry from Rhino can be used in Revit Architecture – the image below is an exported .sat file from Rhino inserted into a Revit Mass family template. We did for small building ITU. Finally in Revit Architecture we can load the Mass Family geometry into a project and associate building elements (walls, floors) to the Rhino geometry, document the design and quantify components and various building blocks.

Note: I have done many experiments with the Revit and Rhino workflow and consulted a few professionals on these workflows. The only thing I can say is that it is far from perfect. In fact, it is not a workflow I would recommend. If someone wants to use Rhino, for the simple reason that Revit is very limited, I suggest using Rhino all the way. In fact, many firms go through CD using Rhino with BIM plug-in and Auto Cad for detailing. The reason for using Rhino is that you cannot edit or update the geometry in Revit as the KAPSARC project has such a complex geometry for each building and we do not find any other option adopting rhino models to Revit.

In simplest of my theory, you can import a sat file in Revit and flesh the skin with walls, but in reality, walls have variable thicknesses along a double curved surface. Something that Revit wall by face cannot mimic. Floors also do not always have a flat surface. They tend to curve and join walls in a smooth transition, which leads to the following problems during KAPSARC modeling? You cannot always categorize the proper building components. A wall is not always a wall when it flows naturally into a floor. A floor is not always flat. A roof could be a wall too. Just look at the snap shot below taken from Revit model of Musalla.

Architecture and Structure model of KAPSARC created in Rhino, has been used as references to create Revit Architecture models

Our Engineering team at Satellier meets most and major hurdles during their process of model creation. Major task for project KAPSARC comes under Services department. Architecture team once completes the first stage, they transfers the RCT and ITC structure and Architecture models to the Engineering team for their use. Once reviewing the Architecture & Structure models team comes out with same voice never worked on this kind of iconic building before.