I just noticed this interesting building designed by a college student in Australia and had to mention it. Andrew Southwood-Jones conceived and rendered the building, actually a green dormitory, for an Autodesk competition and he took the prize in the architecture category. Called UniCube, it was designed to maximize space, be sustainable, and look good. Andrew designed the conceptual structure to use a number of sustainable strategies: drought-tolerant plant wall in checkerboard pattern on exterior; exterior "gabion walls" filled with rubble and stone; inner walls made from straw bales; a copper roof that catches wind for ventilation and air circulation (without requiring air conditioning); rotating solar panels generating power for the building’s lights; and rainwater collection for use in irrigation, toilets, and laundry.
In Andrew’s words, here’s how he did it and what he used to do it:
The main design was created in ‘Revit Architecture 2008‘ and rendered using the built-in Mental Ray renderer in ‘Revit Architecture 2009’. Initially I attempted rendering within ‘Autodesk VIZ 2008’, however rendering took too long. The built-in Mental Ray renderer in ‘Revit Architecture 2009’ made rendering and applying materials much simpler, however not being able to create custom materials resulted in basic materials being applied on some objects (the ‘plant windows’ used grass as the material, when I would have liked to have actually plants on the window, the copper roof also did not turn out as planned as I could not get an aged effect, thus it looks quite reflective).
The family editor in Revit created most of the custom content within the design, which includes the plant windows/shade grill, planters, stair railing, bi-fold doors, solar panels and underground rainwater tanks. The only part created outside of Revit was the roof, which was created in ‘Rhinoceros 3.0’, exported as a .sat file and converted into a roof using the massing options in Revit 2008.
Put me back in college and I’d live in that. Wouldn’t you? Congratulations to Andrew and maybe we’ll actually see the UniCube get built somewhere …