As of August 2018, I am changing to a blog type format for two reasons – mainly as this page is becoming extremely lengthy but that also seems to be a better format for recording developing stories. Once the model is finished then the updates will not be as relevant. However, as this is a specific subject with limited general interest then I am hoping to separate the posts from my main blog. They’re both going on this site but I am using a special post type so the updates here should not come up in the main latest posts section. There is no commitment to publish this on a regular basis but every time anything significant warrants reporting then I’ll try and keep this page refreshed.
Probably one of my life’s great works; call me sad if you like, is a 3D model of the former Ordnance Survey head office in Southampton, a building that I spent a significant part of my life visiting, then working at and studying it. Big, complex buildings such as this one always fascinate me and so I thought I ought to do the old place justice.
It’s a very sorry sight now, with the main buildings being pulled down as I write this. but my virtual building will live on, along with the memories and photos covering Ordnance Survey’s tenure at Romsey Road, between 1968 and 2011. It should be noted, at this point, that the contents of this website are all my personal opinion and are not official Ordnance Survey material. That said, you won’t hear a bad word here about Ordnance Survey. I am very proud to work for an organisation with such a great history, always at the leading edge of mapping technology.
Back on the subject of Romsey Road, a lot of people have said that it’s ugly and old fashioned. Maybe that is the case but at the time it was almost certainly a state-of-the-art factory for map-making. Everything was under one roof, bringing an end to decades of being spread out across several sites with temporary buildings. Everything was new it seemed and photos from the time certainly reflect that.
Although the building was apparently intended to last 100 years, it was the rapid technological changes to map production that made Romsey Road an unsuitable building for the 21st century. When the first main staff moves started in 1968, maps were drawn by hand then had to undergo a complex process to get them published: they were photographed using huge cameras, exposed to light and coated in various chemicals before a printing plate could be produced. This was a very labour-intensive operation. The second largest building at Maybush was used almost entirely for storage – of printing plates, photographic negatives and printed maps.
Perhaps not surprisingly, it was computers and information technology that was the main driver for change. There was a mainframe computer at Romsey Road when it opened, which took up several large rooms and had its own dedicated air conditioning plant. Again, Ordnance Survey was at the forefront of technology. ‘Digitising’ of paper maps – converting them into vector files using computing technology – was well underway by the mid 1970s and although uptake was slow initially (because few of the end-users had the technology to use this data), it soon picked up and the need for printing large-scale maps and for storing all the hard copies gradually reduced. By the 1990s, Ordnance Survey had digitised every large-scale map in the country and this was pioneering stuff. It was the first national mapping agency to complete such a programme.
A similar revolution happened within the map reproduction process when ‘computer-to-plate’ technology made the entire repro area obsolete and by 2000 that area of the building had been converted into a very impressive ‘Business Centre’, with meeting rooms, training rooms and a lecture theatre making it one of the best conference venues in southern England. It was often hired out to external organisations.
When the building opened, there were around 4 000 staff but this reduced over the years, again due to technological changes. The building was now far too big so Ordnance Survey constructed another purpose-built head office a short distance away and the last staff moved out of Romsey Road in early 2011.
We’ll go back to that model now. This is actually the fourth version I have produced. The first one was when I first got into using 3D modelling software and was low resolution. The second version was considerably more detailed but it transpired that the scale was significantly incorrect. The third iteration was an attempt to resolve this but for several reasons, I have decided to discontinue that model and start afresh.
The first three versions were created using an application called GMAX. This is a proprietary application that is not compatible with any other software. It is, what it’s called in the trade, legacy software. I have now migrated to 3DS Max 2010; I would prefer to use Blender but it is far more time consuming at the the moment than using Max and Max files, being the industry standard, can be converted other formats.
There are numerous challenges with this model. Here are just a few.
- Scale and proportions are very important. I have compared the floor spacing to some ancient plans, sections and elevation drawings and attempted to meet that. However, as I like working with precision, some compromises have been made. The original building was in imperial measurements but the spacing between the centre of the columns (pillars) in the main building is 4.11 metres. I have changed this to a 4 metre grid as this makes work significantly easier. The spacing of the same in West Block is between 4.5 and 5 m; rounding this up to the nearest 0.25 m makes it 4.75m. Comparing my grid with the original plans show that this is accurate enough.
- It’s a building that has changed a lot over the years. Do I make an ‘as-built’ model of what it was like when it opened or a contemporary model? I have an archive of loads of ‘as-built’ architectural diagrams but nothing there later than the early 80s. I could use photos as a reference point, for example, the new Reception area and Business Centre. For now, I have taken the decision to get the structure etc right before deciding which option to take.
- What is the geographic area included in my model? For speed of working purposes, I am separating out everything I can into separate files. Services Block is 90% done as a standalone model. The Restaurant is separate as well, with that being far closer to completion than the main building. At the moment, I have not included Compass House. As it’s an active building, of a sensitive nature perhaps, then I am avoiding it in case someone was to think it may pose a threat to security. With the other buildings, as they’ve all been demolished/will be in the next few months, then that concern is irrelevant. Crabwood House is also not part of the model. If I have to model that then so do I the trees/landscaping between that and the main building and modelling trees etc is way beyond my ability.
Monday 26 March 2012
A frustratingly-unproductive day. Today I have created the parapets for the penthouse above F/K cores. I have also created ‘bulkhead’ walls that separate each service ‘core’ from the adjacent wings. I was not aware that these existed but the recent demolition photos showing C core after C-H spur had been demolished has helped me on many of the structural elements of the building. I have done cores A, C, E and H; the others are different as they have part of the lower ground floor going through them. A unique copy of these is needed.
I have also compared the floor spacing of my model with an ‘as-built’ cross-section drawing I have found. I am pleased that there are only two deviations; the first floor should be 25 cm or so lower and the third floor should come up about the same distance. As I think that it is more important to make the 3rd/4th/5th and 6th floors the same height, I am leaving these for now; I can come back later if it does need changing.
I am getting very frustrated with the speed of working with the model. This machine has 4 Gb or RAM and a 2 Gb graphics card but already it is running very slow, even in Wireframe mode. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of windows in the building. I have set these up as a separate ‘Layer’ but hiding that layer doesn’t help a lot.
Some observations about the current state of play:
- The first floor windows appear far too big
- The main window materials need editing as the difference between offices with tinted glass, frosted glass and non-tinted glass are too visible.
- Penthouses for A, C, E and H core need constructing. The first two appear to be very similar (at least externally) to B core, which I have started on so I can clone that when it’s finished. H and E are also mirror images of each other.
- Glazing for F core penthouse needs installing and the parapet walls need materials assigned. The columns here are too tall and the roof slab is incorrect.
- West Block is in a very early stage. The roof slab here is totally wrong, as there should be holes for the ‘northlight’ glazed roofs. The roof to G and M cores is also non-existent.
Tuesday 27 March 2012
It’s now 6.30 am and a frustratingly early wake up and inability to get back to sleep has led to me making an early start to this morning’s construction activities. The penthouses are still troubling me as I’m not sure whether the corner windows are wider than the ordinary ones (they are for the main office floors). From looking at photos and the limited elevational drawings I have seen it would appear that they’re all the same so I think I’ll go with that for the moment at least for the front elevations. I think the side elevations probably do have wider windows though.
I am still having significant frustration with the speed of Max. I have separated things onto different ‘layers’ (this is good practice anyway for a lot of reasons). Hiding the WRB’s main windows has sped things up a lot – they are pretty much finished so I don’t need to see them while I am working on other aspects of the building.
Wednesday 28 March 2012
Apart from the work mentioned above yesterday morning, no further work was undertaken on the model. Some very interesting info about the demolition and the order that the various wings are to be pulled down was brought to my attention but is largely irrelevant to the model apart from the opportunity to see parts of the structure that were previously hidden.
It is now 4.30 am and an even worse case of insomnia than yesterday has meant I can start ‘on site’, super early, in a virtual sense obviously.
I’ve got the main parts of those pesky ‘penthouses’ done now, although they are missing doors. I will create these later as for now I just want to get the main structure in place. F penthouse is not finished yet by any means. I have createdthe lift shafts at the front (A,B & C cores) in preparation for detailing of the structure of those and also looked into the contents of the penthouses but as there have never been any plans of these publicly available then this is by no means an exact science.
I have also, at last, added the columns, parapets and roof slab for that single storey link corridor from H to G core and the Boiler House roof and parapets.
Finally, I’ve just started on West Block, trying to get the holes in the roof in the right place but this still needs a tremendous amount of work.
Friday 30 March 2012
The question troubling me this morning is “How wide are the windows in West Block?” The hunt for an image accurate to measure this from has taken me away from the main task in hand of modelling.
Saturday 31 March 2012
7:10 am. Yesterday saw some progress made but it didn’t seem that much. Most of the time was spent on getting the floor slab design of West Block in place. Now this is an absolute pain as, unlike the other buildings, it has a serrated edge where those embedded vertical slot windows are. There is no way I am drawing this individually six times for each floor slab so I must get this as accurate as possible then I can duplicate it for each floor, making sure it is a unique copy and not an instance so that I can make any amendments that each floor has but is not common for all floors. And like most matters of this nature at Maybush, there are a lot of differences, most notably that some floors are double-height.
I think I’ve nailed the long edges of this ‘master’ floor slab and also the South-East short edge. Just the NW end now. One thing the demolition photos have revealed to me is that West Block has two layers of brick wall. The inner layer is built onto the edge of the floor slabs but the outer layer, of those ‘wonderful’ brown engineering bricks, is built onto the ground floor slab and then goes all the way up, giving it an unbroken wall all the way to the roof. I imagine the facade bricks are ‘tied’ to the inner layer or the structure somehow but that detail, fortunately, is not going to be captured by my modelling process. That would be like modelling every brick individually instead of modelling each wall as one object and sticking a brick texture onto it.
Today, I hope to get West Block completed structurally but I also have to model the glazed roof and I haven’t even started on that. The same goes for the windows. I have found a diagram showing details of every type of window in West Block but I am missing the most important sheet of that.
9:20 am: I have, at last, finished the definitive floor slab for West Block. Obviously this will need modifying for each floor. I have also added the internal walls around G core and M core stairwells and lift shafts.
Sunday 1 April 2012
April is here and I am finally beginning to feel that progress is being made with West Block. I am now happy with all the floor slabs at last and their differences: the 1st and 3rd floor only spanning part of the building’s length and straight instead of serrated edges on part of the ground and 1st floor where there is ‘patent glazing’ instead of the castellated brick walls. As previously mentioned, most of the walls around G and M core are now in place as well. A major challenge that remains there is the staircases with their railings; I have not even started on those yet.
I have also started work on West Block’s roof and the glazed roof sections, or ‘northlight folded plate roof’ to give it its technical name. The corrugated nature of the roofs gives them their strength; they are only supported at the sides and there are no pillars or anything in the middle at all.
13:56 pm: a very productive morning has seen the ‘northlight’ glazed roof to West Block being completed apart from the end of each run of roofs. My attention then was focused on the doors and windows: an ‘Ironmongery Schedule’ of every type of door and window in West Block has helped me to convert this from a tatty drawing into ready-to-use components for my model.
I put this into a separate file, mainly for speed reasons. I now have a file containing Max models of each of the different types and I can ‘merge’ items into the main model. This is prefabrication of a type and I think this will become an increasingly efficient way to work with other elements of the building.
The first application of this was the Boiler House, its external window/door sections have been imported from the prefab file.
Monday 2 April 2012
Today’s first puzzle relates to the Ironmongery work I started on yesterday. I have found a home for all but the last four of those doors/windows I created yesterday. The four in question are on the far right and I’m sure they go somewhere on the Boiler House or Refrigeration Plant. I think I know where one of them goes but not certain. I have had a look at the photos on the Wiki and the only thing I confirmed on there is that the section with two sets of double doors goes on the SE face of the Refrigeration Plant.
Today’s short session has seen me add the glazed metal window sections to West Block’s former Map Mounting section. I have spent even more time placing lights and trying to get an ‘atmospheric’ scene of the Boiler House and surrounding area but there are too many lights and this caused rendering to fail.
Friday 6 April 2012
Last night saw some work done on the flat roof sections above G and M cores. The roof of these areas is raised above the main roof slab level as the lift motor rooms need to be higher. There are some rectangular rooflights in both these areas, letting light into G core stairwell and the lavs there, and to M core lavs and the lift motor room. The slabs for these are done but the actual rooflights need adding later. The side walls, between the main roof level and these raised ones also need adding.
This morning I started work on the main windows for West Block and I’ve got the square ones done. Just the smaller rectangular ones near F core to do now. And the LG floor.
Sat 7 April 2012
The prospect of a Saints v Pompey football match within spitting (not literally I hope!) distance to my studio has resulted in a battening down of the hatches and with nothing better to do than continuing this epic project then so be it.
My intention was to finish the external windows to West Block but instead I have been working on the easier job of internal walls, luckily there aren’t that many of them, with most of West Block’s room being huge.
Fri 20 April 2012
Work on the model has been slow for various reasons but tonight I have completed most of the internal walls inside West Block…except for those at M core, which are underway.
Sat 21 April 2012
An early start this morning sees the remaining internal walls in West Block completed. Only the ‘demountable partitions’ to do and there is a separate ironmongery schedule for those (if I can find it). I am planning to finish West Block’s roof next, as some photos of that are now available.
Saturday 28 April
Yesterday and this morning saw work on the Staff Restaurant building commence. The columns are all in place and so are the flat-roofed sections, including the circular skylights (only on the back slab of the kitchens; the other flat slabs need these adding).
The main challenge is the Restaurant’s main domed roof. If it was a true dome; that is, part of a sphere then this would be easy. It’s a square dome so slicing off the edges to make it square is easy. HOWEVER…it is NOT a true dome. The curve angle increases away from the centre and is almost vertical by the time it touches the flat roof section.
The way to create this thing is to draw the curve for half of the dome’s section and then ‘Lathe’ it; this rotates the curve around the end pivot. However, that method requires extra segments beyond the actual curve so that these bits can be trimmed off to make the the thing square. With the fact that the end is vertical, this becomes a problem.
The other problem is drawing the curve in the first place. It’s not a true arc. The correct term is a hyperbolic paraboloid but this gets very complex and it seems some significant maths are involved. For now, I have drawn several arcs and attached them together, with about 60% of the total curve from the centre being one arc, then another arc for the next 30% and another one for the last 10%. This looks relatively good but is by no means accurate. For the moment, I have used this as the dome but will try and find a better way of doing this. The edge beams (these support the main dome and are connected to the superstructure of the building) are also a problem and again, as they use the same curve as the dome itself. The dome edge walls are fairly correct, the hole for the arch windows in these was also produced using that curvature.
Wednesday 2 May
I have left the dome in its incorrect state for now and moved on to other parts of the Restaurant. All the external windows and doors are in place now, except for the high-level vent windows at the back. I think it’s only the corner ones that need ‘stretching’ a bit. I have also added the windows to the dome although these are also far from ideal.
I have started on the lighting and there are a lot of light fittings to do. Having every light fitting that there was in the real version as individual lights may cause rendering to become very slow. I’ve left them as individual lights for the moment although the brightness needs adjusting as they’re still a bit dim. I have put some uplighters around the base of the dome and these look about right.
I have put in the tiled floor to the main cafeteria now, although the pattern is not that accurate – however, it’s certainly good enough for now.
Another detail I have added is the ‘central feature’ to the dome, a sculpture if you like suspended from it. I have never seen any photos of that but definitely remember seeing it. I think that might have had lights in it somewhere.
I have done very little to the kitchen side of the building, not even the celestory roof. The internal walls there and also for the entrance lobbies/toilets and the Common Room are next on my list.
Thursday 3 May 2012
The image above shows the current state of play and some extensive work took place late yesterday, with the kitchen roof being largely constructed and start of the internal partitions. Ignore the somewhat-bizarre lighting and the way-too-big dome central feature in the image above as both are a long way from finished. Straight ahead is the glazed partition to the ‘servery’ between the kitchens and the cafeteria. If this seems a bit out-of-sequence then my reasoning is to use this to obstruct the very empty kitchen from shots of the main domed area. As one of the main focal points of the whole Romsey Road site, I’m going to have a lot of fun experimenting with lighting and other cool stuff here. On the right is where the stage is going to go and the walls to that area and the other entrance/toilet lobbies are the next items on the agenda.
10:04 am: I have made the dome’s ‘central feature’ much thinner and it looks a lot better. I have also been tinkering with the lighting and the interior fascias at the base of the dome.
11:32 am: it appears that the drawing of that pesky ‘central feature’ I had was wrong and it was more like a square parabola with concave sides. A fine complement to the hyperbolic paraboloid domed roof (no, I don’t understand that jargon, it is very complex maths going on there. A square dome.
12:04 pm: I’ve realised that the top section of the Servery partition has vertical glass louvres, 20 of them per bay. These can become very tedious as it’s difficult to change them once they’re set without having to recreate the whole lot. It’s also a very precise job to set the spacing between them, much of this being trial and error.
Friday 11 May 2012
The time has came I’m afraid to put those curtains up in front of the servery – mainly to hide the bare kitchen area. I have just used a generic 70s wallpaper texture off t’Internet for now but will try to find a more accurate representation.
Sunday 13 May 2012
I have now completed the stage area (with some groovy lighting) and part of the glass screen by the tea bar. I have realised that the door handles I had for the metal double door sets were incorrect and so I have replaced all those. I have also made a wood and glass single door (two of these behind the stage) and a wooden door with no windows, as used for the doors to the toilets.
The desire to create some attractive renders of the nearly-completed main cafeteria haver overcome the discipline I should exercise in getting the place finished. I’ve made some tables and chairs using the Maybush Construction photos and I’ve got a half-decent render from that but that part of the building is at a far more advanced stage of construction than the rest of it. The kitchen is just a bare shell; I haven’t even put the internal walls in yet, let alone started thinking about fitting it out. Do I make everything in there from scratch (cookers/fridges/sinks etc) or try and find some models of those other people have made already? From limited research, it’s probably going to be a case of doing it myself. There are plenty of models of domestic appliances but not of industrial catering equipment plus it’s got to be old stuff in keeping with the early 70s theme. The fact that the Maybush Construction photos are black and white means that the colour scheme is all guesswork!
I have also not touched the front entrance lobby or the back entrance lobby with the stairs (also barely started) down to the subway. The main cafeteria is pretty much complete apart from the ceiling at the front and the tea bar but you can see the unfinished areas through the internal glass doors/windows, much as I have tried to mask this with those lurid curtains!
Monday 21 May 2012
The first sign of any real progress has been seen tonight. Having taken some time out to prioritise the most urgent work on the model, I’ve been chipping away at these issues tonight.
First up was some confusion about the floor spacing between West and Central Blocks but the only real differences are in the 2nd floor and upwards. Every floor in West Block is 9 feet high while in Central Block, the 3rd-6th floors are 10 feet, the 2nd floor 8 feet and the 3rd floor 8 feet. I am happy that I have figured out at last, although having to translate everything to metric and round up the measurements could cause problems later but as I’m working to a precision of 250 mm then I can’t see anything that is likely to be too far in the wrong.
On the list of priorities was sorting out the windows to the central spur 1st and 2nd floors (K core to F core). They are in place now and so are most of the lower ground windows/walls to West Block.
Next on the priority list are the Upper Loading Bay, the adjacent chemical store and other random F door bits.
Monday 18 June 2012
After a few weeks that have seen very little progress, several issues have came to light. The ‘fanlight’ main opening top windows to the WRB have always pivoted at the top as far as I thought but I recently discovered they pivot horizontally in the centre. Does this mean having to start all over again and draw all those windows? Well yes but they needed to be upgraded in terms of resolution anyway as I’ve never been happy with them. I need to get it right the first time with this, as virtually every other fenestration installation has those same fanlight windows. I don’t have enough detail about the design of those to make replacing them worthwhile yet. Perhaps I should ask the demolition company if I can have a souvenir window? Only joking, but this sudden discovery has thrown plans, um…out of the window, literally!
What else can I do? West Block’s internal walls are nearly finished. Lighting in the WRB may bring me some achingly-beautiful renders. Although I should really get on with the rather more important business of constructing the walls around each service core. We shall see.
* * *
In actual fact, I got very little done last night, after realising that the roof at the front of the Print Floor and the 1st/2nd floor windows nearby were conspicuous by their complete absence. Not even the walls or the structural roof had been built there. That will be the next major job but duplicating all that lot for the other side will be easy.
Sat 30 June 2012
Work has started on site once again and although all the windows need replacing, I have decided to get the remaining structural work finished as a priority – the stairs, sheer walls and internal walls at the service cores and parts of the 1st floor exterior where it abuts the factory floors. I had better order plenty of concrete! A closer look at the stairs has thrown my original estimation for the floor slabs’ thickness into question. My estimate of 25 cm appears to be more or less correct for those floor slabs with heavy machinery etc but the upper office floors (3-6th floor) have a much thinner slab – only 15 cm. This is going to cause further headaches, I can tell.
Thu 5 July 2012
This week has seen further work on the core areas of the WRB. More specifically, A core. It makes sense to do that one first and then I can replicate to B core and C core, both of which are virtually identical (or at least the 3-6th floors are), apart from C core being a mirror image. I have finalised the lift shaft and adjacent sheer walls, realising in the process that the columns at the edges of the core where it abuts the office spurs are split down the middle to form an expansion joint. That explains how the demolition contractors have got such a clean break!
I have also constructed some of the walls in the lift lobbies, and those separating the toilets. Following this, I have constructed some of the lift call hardware. I then constructed a typical single door and frame that can be used for the riser/toilet doors off the lobby. All of these parts will be useful for other parts of the building or even other buildings.
The flat roof slab between the 1st floor of the WRB front spurs and the Print Floor/Helio vaulted roof has gone in at last, although the rooflights have not, as I’m not sure of their construction so further research needs to be undertaken via my library of photos and other images.
Finally, my attention has gone back to those stairs, I’ve almost completed one set but the railings are going to be complicated.
Fri 6 July 2012
It has came to my attention that there is an automatic railing generator in 3DS Max. This is very exciting news indeed, as it will save me a lot of time in drawing all the railings for the stairs.
Sat 7 July 2012
A comment by my dad, about the ‘new’ reception extension looking like the bow of a ship, inspired me to produce this CGI image:
OK, so there’s no Kate or Leo; but, to continue the nautical metaphors, I will go down with this ship. It’s my building and I’ll cry if I want to. OK, so that Reception thing wasn’t in the scope of my original plans of modelling the building as it was when new, but I knocked up a very rough and ready version of it for that image. I then moved it to a separate layer and made a copy of my OSO Master file to muck about with the water, bronze figure, deck roof and railings, none of which were actually real.
Back on a serious note now, I made some further refinements to the stairs and their railings. The auto railings work quite well but still were fiddly. The stairs beneath the 3rd floor are going to be a pain as well.
Sunday 8 July 2012
I have decided to come back to the stairs and their railings. I am not happy with the railings; or, for that matter, the concrete stairs. It appears that the polished concrete treatment only applies to the top surface; the bottom and sides have a rougher painted finish. Mine only has one layer. Grumble!
I have decided to try and fit out a typical office spur. Let’s hope that I have more luck with that.
Monday 16 July 2012
The last week hasn’t seen a lot of progress with the model. I am only writing this today for want of a better place to put it. Now I like to think I am very knowledgable about the building/s that I am modelling, having spent far too much of my time researching the subject but a visit to the real-world building this afternoon revealed one of the few secrets it does still hold from me. The photo here shows exactly what I’m on about. Now this cross-section of B core is a very useful source of information for modelling purposes, but a peek in the basement shows the subway in the centre bay, the Calorifier Room to its right but the chap who visited the site with me spotted another passage, on the far left. I remember having seen something like that on an old drawing but never took much notice of it until today.
I have now had the chance to research the subject and here are my findings. This was part of the very complex network of ducts providing air conditioning to the Print Floor and Helio/Photographic areas. Not just the factory floors covered by the vaulted roofs but pretty much the entirety of the ground and first floors of Central Block.
All of this conditioned air was provided by the extensive plant installation that took up the entire second and third floors of the central spur. There were ten ‘plants’, each one really being self-contained and these took in air – 90% recirculated and 10% fresh air from outside – using two huge fans, several different types of filter, a humidifier and heat exchangers to both heat and cool air (depending on the time of year). Four of the plants on each side (of the central spur) each served two of the eight vaulted roofs, with a duct running the whole length of the vault but on the Photographic side, the ducts went even further and served the single-height Photographic area between E and A core. That must have been a very powerful system to move the air all that way, particularly as little attempt seems to have been made of ‘streamlining’ the ducts; there are numerous 90 degree angle bends.
The front (by B core) plant on each side was very different (or at least the ducts they were connected to were; the plants themselves look much of a muchness to me), these went into the 2nd floor of B core and split into dozens of branches, the smaller 0nes appear to have served the front work areas (C150/C128) but the largest branches were two vertical ducts that went through the first floor to the ground floor. I always assumed that these branched off into the ceiling of the ground floor at the front but it appears not to be the case. Or if was then this other duct was additional. The duct did another turn, went through the ground floor and then another 90 degree turn took it to that duct you can see on the left of the photo. This went from B core and all the way along the front until C core., just below the floor level. Holes in the floor, I assume, got this air into the work area but via a very convoluted route! As usual, another duct, a mirror image of the Print Floor one, existed on the other side for the Helio/Photo area.
That is a description of that duct ‘s origins but the story is not finished yet, as cabin fever (due to another wet evening) has well and truly set in. I’m probably going to wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night having nightmares about that ventilation system turning into some kind of mechanical octopus, spreading its numerous tenatacles far and wide. But I digress. I’m not sure how long that duct was used for. Mid-late 90s is probably when it was shut down. I can imagine running that massive air-con plant was an ecological disaster; there were at least eight 90 degree turns between the air-con plant and the duct I am writing about. While green issues were not considered as important as they are now, that would have cost a great amount in electricity.
When the first floor was refurbished in the mid 90s, it was pretty much completely stripped out and all those ceiling ducts went with it; the mechanical ventilation not being needed when it was changed from photographic labs to office space. The two large vertical ducts at B core to the floor below appear to have been left in-situ, as they are shown on the various floor plans around the building. They were approximately 2 metres square. On the ground floor below, there were two chambers directly below but twice as wide that connected the duct above to the one below, the extra width accommodating a double turn with respect to the fact that the ducts above were further back. That setup appears to be completely gone, presumably when those areas were also changed from Repro to office space. This means that the underfloor duct has been amputated from the air-con system and has therefore been ‘mothballed’, unless it was put to use as a good place to hide cables in the new offices.
In the second floor plant room, the original ducts from the plants above to B core also appear to have been removed, which begs the question of what the plants were used for after that. One answer I don’t have.
Friday 20 July 2012
It’s been a bad week, having seen the real-life William Roy Building finally gone. Work on the model has been slow but an attempt at sorting out the structural elements and the floor slabs of the building continues; despite the amount of time this takes, there’s very little to show for it.
Friday 27 July 2012
The focus this week has returned to the Restaurant, as that is almost totally gone now. Following discussion with some of those who were there at the time, I have changed the colour of the chairs and tabletops to a light grey instead of green/blue. I have also changed the floor texture so there is a lot more contrast to the pattern (lighter light areas and darker dark areas).
I have virtually finished construction of the ceiling of the lounge area at the front (Romsey Road) flat-roofed area. This was easily reconstructed using the Maybush Construction photos.
29 July 2012
I have now installed the snack bar at the other end of the lounge area shown above. However, this was rebuilt/extended at some point between 1968 and the 1980s. The rebuilt version was larger and took up the whole space between the external walls and the east pillar that supported the domed roof (approx 6 m wide). The double doors shown here were removed and so was part of the corridor to the toilets (access to that was still via the door adjacent to the stairs).
Later in the day, I started work on the stairs to the subway.
Monday 30 Jul 2012
I’ve finished the main parts of the Restaurant now – just a few additions are needed now except for the kitchen area but I have started installing the internal walls tonight.
Wednesday 1 August 2012
A new machine with 8 Gb RAM and a new version of the modelling software sees the requirement to give it a run for its money so here are some renders:
Thursday 2 August 2012
Another test render has seen the generation of a wallpaper for my large-screen monitor at work:
Sunday 5 August 2012
There has been a lot of progress this week; not just with this project of building OSHQ in 3DS Max. For various reasons, I have decided to learn Blender (a free and open-source 3D modelling program) and this is in the early stages. I have also been researching the issue of transferring my models between different formats. I think I’ll try and make some of the ‘props’ (prefabricated items, such as doors, machinery and so on) in Blender and see if I can get them into Max, probably easier than the other way round.
However, the most exciting discovery this weekend has been a tip-off from a fellow modeller about Unity. Unity is a freemium ‘game engine’; free unless you want Pro features but that’s not the case for me at the moment; the free version is great. Yes, I could make a computer game set in the OSHQ building; that would be something of a novelty; however, what excites me about this is it can be used for architectural ‘walk-throughs’.
Unity allows you to import 3D assets from modelling software to use in ‘games’ and, having converted a copy of my model to ‘FBX’ format, it imports my OSHQ model in all its glory with very little difficulty and mainly intact. It looks fine but the wireframe view shows it has converted all my neat squares to triangular polygons; something that annoys me and makes subsequent editing much more difficult. That is largely irrelevant however, as Unity is the end of the workflow: it’s a case of get it right in MAX and then export it to Unity. Any further changes need to be made to the master Max file and then re-imported to Unity.
I cannot believe how easy Unity is to use, 10 minutes of video tutorials got me up and running. It comes with a preset 1st-person character (1st-person means you see the scene through their eyes rather than having a camera focused on a character you can see. This character move around the scene with just the arrow keys and a ‘mouse-look’ view. The only thing I had to do was select all the ‘solid’ objects and add a ‘collision mesh’. This means that the character cannot pass through these objects. It also has gravity so if you walk off the edge, you’ll fall down to the next solid surface.
Once I’ve tidied up a few of the main missing structural parts of my model then I may produce a test version of a ‘game’ walk-through.
Back to the modelling aspect now, I’ve concluded the structural work around E core, as can be seen here:
Wednesday 8 August 2012
Some considerable work has taken place in the basement of the William Roy Building in the last few days, firstly sorting out the lift/stair lobbies at the front LG floor (A,B and C cores). I have built the calorifer/sprinkler pump room by B core although that cannot be finished until the mechanical and electrical installation is complete (this will be soon, once some further enabling work has been undertaken).
I have constructed the subway beneath A, B and C cores as well today. Well it was always there but nothing more than an empty void. The floors, lights and ceiling are now completed ready for installation of the pipes that will be hidden behind the wooden panels bearing inspirational quotes. I’m not sure about the height of the ramp so some of this is guesswork. B core is slightly higher than A and C cores. The reason for this has eluded me for some time. I think the reason for this is that there are some ducts beneath the subway at B core; these presumably connect the heating pipes (and possibly chilled water as well, if North Block had air conditioning [not sure if it did except perhaps the air photo section]) from the boiler house (these are in the subway from F to B core) to the pipes on the far side of the subway. It appears that there was also some kind of duct above the subway at A and C cores. Again, this is guesswork. I’m not sure what the height difference between the two levels was but at most 2 feet.
Also, there is no subway yet to the Restaurant or North Block (in fact, not a single component of North Block exists). I am going to complete the subway at both ends although the Restaurant is a separate model (to the same scale).
Friday 31 August 2012
Very little work into this model has taken place this month, partly due to studying a different 3D modelling package, Blender. I have dismissed Blender in the past for being hard-to-use and inferior to Max but the opportunity to potentially use Blender in my day job has been a good incentive and while it was a steep learning curve at first, I’ve now got to the stage where I am confident enough in Blender to actually make things but the finer points of texturing, lighting and rendering have not really been scratched yet. Does this mean a change of direction for my Romsey Road site model? No. While it may seem confusing to use two different tools, I will continue to use Max for my main building models. I have always been somebody who never gives up the chance to learn something new so being multi-skilled is not a bad thing.
The way forward, as I see it, is to continue to make buildings in Max but to use Blender to produce some components for those buildings, ideally complex shapes/mesh-type objects. Things like pipe valves, motors and boilers (none of which I have built yet for Romsey Road) and maybe even some of the more unusual architectural elements, such as that domed roof. Several reasons for this: it’s easier to import from Blender into Max than the other way round, I like the ProMaterials in Max (instant materials such as metal/concrete etc) so can continue to use them for my architectural stuff (part of my liking for these being laziness as they’re a lot quicker to set up than my own ones) and, having studied mesh modelling extensively in Blender but never having done anything beyond basic stuff in Max, and my need to learn Blender, it seems as though we’re moving in the right direction.
The reason I am writing here tonight is related to this. I can find plenty of photos of boilers, chillers, cooling towers and so on using Google etc but I never have any idea how big this stuff should be. I was talking to one of the guys who used to maintain that stuff at Maybush and learned something interesting that I thought was worthy of mention. I was always under the impression that two of the three chillers in the Refrigeration Plant had been replaced at some point and were not the original ones. The third chiller was much older and presumably original from the building’s construction but sadly, only one recent photo of that is known to exist. The original chillers were Carlyle make, now taken over by Carrier (allegedly the inventor of air conditioning). The ‘replacement’ ones were from YORK, the name of the manufacturer, not the Yorkshire city.
However, I was told today that only the compressors were replaced with the York equipment; at the same the refrigerant was replaced (probably due to environmental concerns regarding CFCs). This would have been mid-late 1990s I assume. The body (two joined large boiler-like heat exchangers)of each original chillers was kept and the new gear, including a massive ‘turbo compressor’ installed on top. Having done further research, this is certainly the case. It is very sad to see this recent photo of the end of the chillers’ lives but if you compare it to this one, when they were still covered up to avoid getting splashed with paint, you’ll see that the pipes go in at exactly the same place. I’ve researched more modern chillers (well with the summer we’ve had, you could probably get a great deal on a 10 mW chiller) and can’t see any bodies like that.
I’ve been intending to crack on with modelling these huge items of machinery but the lack of reference images is a deterrent and I only have photos of one side of the chillers, due to the fact it was far too noisy to go down onto the machine floor in there.
Saturday 24 November 2012
First of all, my apologies to regular followers of this page; it’s been a long time but this building has never been far from my mind. A separate post here details my plans to effectively start again and remake the whole model in Blender. Since then, I have experimented with exporting from Max into Blender. This has been more promising than I expected. I can’t export the whole lot in one go as it crashes Max. However, if I make a copy of it and delete everything apart from certain parts or layers then it works. For example, I have exported the structural layer and now have all the concrete pillars and slabs in Blender. The transfer is done via a Collada DAE file, which both Blender and Max can handle. There are a few disadvantages with this though:
- Image textures won’t work – Blender refuses to import anything unless these are deleted. It will keep the material names though, and their colours, so it is fairly straightforward to set these up again in Blender.
- Everything gets triangulated, this makes the editing windows (viewports) look extremely untidy and very hard to see what I’m doing. It’s not the end of the world though; this is almost certainly quicker than making them from scratch. I have to delete one side of the objects so they’re just a flat plane and then delete all the criss-cross lines from this. Very complex objects, such as the floor slabs and their numerous holes, I have converted into curves; as they’re easier to edit. I just extrude these, as I do with the meshes after I’ve tidied them.
One decision I have to make early on is whether I should use the Cycles renderer or the Game Engine. The latter would make it possible to ‘walk around’ the building. However, for the moment, I am using Cycles, as it produces much more natural lighting.
My original intention was to use imperial measurements instead of metric, as the building was designed in a bygone age of feet and inches; however, the grid spacing (and the grid is vital with this building) was 13 feet and 6 inches…no way to set up a grid like that plus it would be very confusing. I will stick to the original grid, of 4 metres, although the real distance between the pillars was 4.11 m. Close enough. It does make bringing the parts of the model in from Max a lot easier if they don’t have to be resized.
There are a lot of usable parts of the Max model, particularly the aforementioned complex floor slabs. The windows, however, will probably go in the skip as they were incorrect. Making new ones shouldn’t be too tedious.
Sunday 25 November 2012
Whilst typing the above date, I originally typed December instead of November; perhaps a note that I’ve spent far too much time this weekend working on this model. Virtually all of that time has been in the basement and most of that in the front subway between B and C cores. Perhaps frustrating is the lack of reference material I have. I have been installing the large pipes that carry chilled and heated water along this subway. I know these were normally hidden behind the wooden boards but it is kind of interesting to trace the route of these pipes. The plant room adjacent to the subway between B and C cores was, I thought just home to a few hot water tanks but it appears that this was a lot more complex than that.
There are several trenches across the subway that link to the pipes on the far side of it (which went to C Core/North Block and A Core/Restaurant). The other side of B core is the sprinkler pump room but this also contains another hot water tank, a tangle of pipes and another trench across the subway.
One of the more time-consuming aspects of this was realising that I needed a model of a gate valve models (to the untrained eye, a supersize tap but all these do is allow parts of the system to be isolated if maintenance needs to be carried out). Not really my area of expertise when it comes to modelling but much needed not just for this project but for all other realistic plant room/industrial scenes so I guess it’s an asset that can be reused. I’ve wanted some of these for months but only now had enough of a need. Anyway, here they are: the original large gate valve and its smaller brother; the latter are sometimes used in domestic heating systems.
And finally…an early render:
Friday 30 November 2012
The last few days have seen work progress slowly but forwardly on the front section of the subway (A-B-C cores). Apart from some areas of improvement with the texturing then this is now largely complete with pipes laid in all the trenches and right the way from the Restaurant to North Block. This was ground-breaking territory, as I have never touched North Block before. As it is still an active building then I think it is best avoided but my knowledge of that building is very limited anyway, as by the time I started working there it had already been handed over by Ordnance Survey. I have no idea what was in the basement of that building so I think I’ll end the subway just before D core. For all the time I worked there, that end of the subway was locked off.
Adjacent to that part of the subway were several smaller plant rooms containing hot water tanks – two vertical and one horizontal. I always assumed there was one for each core but having looked into it further, it appears that the horizontal one was used for ‘Industrial Hot Water Services’. I was puzzled over this for a while but then it occurred to me that al those sinks in the Helio/Photo production areas would obviously nee a lot of hot water – doh! Not sure what (or if) it was used for after those areas were replaced by the Business Centre.
I now need to turn my attention to the section of the subway from B to K core. Fortunately, this is much more simple. There were only four pipes in that section if I remember rightly and they all served the front cores. Services to E and H core were via narrow ducts containing pipes that were unknown to the vast majority of people. These aren’t strictly necessaries to include in the model but in the interests of accuracy then they will go in. This will be very simple as the structural walls are already there, just the pipes that need to go in, although I have not figured out what happens when they split off from the main spine of the building. Somehow they’ve got to get across the subway so perhaps there is some kind of trench I have missed; something to research further. On that subject, it appears that these ducts took chilled water to E and C cores but as far as I know then there’s never been anything there that would use it.
Wednesday 23 January 2013
After a gap of nearly two months, work ‘on site’ has resumed although little progress has been made apart from some of the ducts beneath West Block and the Boiler House. I have already built much of the upper floors but never got to sorting out the basement, so finishing that is currently my top priority. I have different parts of the building on different ‘layers’ that can be hidden. Not only does this let me hide things so I can work on what’s underneath (like I have done in this image) but it also helps greatly with reducing processing time by not showing things I don’t need to see.
3 February 2013
The last week has seen structural work continue, with corrections being made to the columns – rather dull, particularly as there are over 40 different types. It appears that most of them are considerably thicker at ground and first floor levels – although this never occurred to me before, it makes sense as they have to support more weight at the base. However, after much ponderation (yes I know that’s not a real word but it should be!), I have finally got all of the Central Block columns in place; the only thing that might need fine-tuning are the floor heights. The spur between K core and F core needs further investigation, as the columns there are on a different sheet.
Another interesting thing about the columns (and there aren’t many interesting things about them!) is that some of them have rain-water pipes (RWPs) in the middle. The building doesn’t have any gutters; rainwater from the roof is supposed to run down through the holes in the columns into the drains but leaking roofs have plagued that building for years; I imagine blockages would be rather tricky to clear. Only about 1 in 20 of the columns are like this; the rest are solid.
There are a few other things I have discovered about the building. I always assumed that the Print Floor/Helio barrel-vaulted (BV) shell roofs were supported by the columns of the adjacent office spurs but it appears that these are actually supported on mini-columns, next to the main building columns I thought that supported the roof.
Another assumption I made that was wrong was that the single-storey 3rd floor corridors had columns on both sides that went all the way to the ground floor. Actually, this is only true of the external sides. The columns on the side facing the BV roofs only exist on the third and second floor. The weight of that corridor is supported by a concrete ‘box beam’, and there is only one column supporting that side at ground level.
Another thing that has only recently became apparent is the expansion joints between sections of the building. The demolition photos taken last year first suggested this to me, as there was a very clean break between each section of Central Block. These are the extent of each section of the block (between the expansion joints):
- E core and spur towards A core
- A core and spur towards B core
- B core
- C core and spur towards B core
- H core and spur towards C core
- K core and spur towards B core
The expansion joints are a wall thick enough to take the load of the columns that should be there. Therefore, each of the sections listed above is entirely self-supporting; that is, everything else could be demolished but that section would stay intact.
8 February 2013
This week has seen frustratingly-little progress, with work solely focusing on doing the same approach to West Block and K-F spur’s columns. The different types have been identified and constructed, with the right sizes on the plan (x and y coordinates) but with a considerable amount of work needed on the floor heights.
However, probably the biggest achievement of the week has been nailing down the ever-frustrating West Block grid plan. 16 foot gaps between the columns seems simple but this had to be scaled down slightly because of the difference in size I have used for the main grid of Central Block. Some rather confusing mathematical calculations later, I have got that correct to within a few centimetres accuracy. Grid in place, and rather doubtfully, I ‘docked’ the West Block grid and columns and it matches up very well. Certainly accurate enough for this model. The whole model is 0.96% smaller than the real thing but that really doesn’t matter as it is a standalone thing. What matters is the proportions between West and central Block, and I am confident about that at last. The whole model could be scaled to the real size if needed and that should work OK.
The next task is checking and adjusting the floor spacing. This is probably going to be another headache, as I generalised the numbers to the nearest 0.25 metres in the previous version of the model that I imported this structural stuff from. There are still a few residual corrections to make below the Boiler House and the retaining walls, columns and absolute zero floor slab of the Refrigeration Plant need sorting out.
After that, is tweaking of all the floor slabs around the building. The Central Block cores are very accurate as I spent a considerable amount of time last year on those, although I think K and F cores are an exception to that so I suspect there is a lot of work there. There are also unknown trenches around that spur at LG and ground floor level. Should keep me busy for a while! I can then move on to structural walls and those expansion joints/sheer walls.
15 February 2013
Work ‘on site’ this week has continued, with the F core foundations now in place (except for the bottom of the lift shaft, which shouldn’t take long). The underground oil storage tanks, 11 of them, each of which takes up a whole 4 m by 4 m bay, have arrived and been installed, except for the pipes connecting them to the Boiler House, above, and to the filling point by the Substation (where the tanks were filled by a tanker). I am not sure about the layout of these pipes so they’ll have to wait for the moment. Installing all the pipes in the Boiler House is going to be a big headache, due to the lack of documentation about such things.
The Substation has not even so much as been touched yet but that, and the adjacent retaining walls of the Upper Loading Bay, are next on the list.
22 February 2013
This week has been somewhat frustrating in more ways than one. My creative juices ran very dry in the early part of the week, with very little progress being made. However, yesterday saw a surprisingly productive evening, although not on the areas I had been intending to work on. I am not bothered as long as things that need to be constructed are done.
With structural works in the basement of F core and K core reaching their conclusion at last (apart from the stairs, which will come later), thought has been given to the ground floor slab to Central Block. A, B and C cores have been finished for a long time, and now, at last, the subway from B to K core is in place. It still needs the pipes to be installed but those are unusually simple. The same goes for the underground ducts from K to E and H cores – these are done except for the E and H core ends but those are relatively simple.
The time has come to create the ground floor slabs for the Print Floor and Helio areas, although it appears that the underfloor ducts are very different between the two, with Helio needing hot and cold water for all those sinks and vacuum services. I assume the latter were used for Repro equipment – for example, picking up sheets of paper for printing and holding negatives to printing plates for exposing. All that equipment would be nice to have models of but that is jumping way ahead unless I need a break from the main building for a mini project.
8:15 pm: I have now installed all the pipes from K core to E core and H core along those ducts. This has given me the opportunity to complete the ground floor slabs above. I am not at all happy with how the pipes connect to the gate valves; the latter are going to need some more thought. The pipes themselves aren’t brilliant but they’ll do for now. I am keen to press on and get started with the Print and Helio main ground floor slabs.
Saturday 2 March 2013
The last few days has seen progress, albeit bits and pieces here and there. The main focus has been the Boiler House and Refrigeration Plant areas. I was very keen to seal up the remaining holes in the ground around here and that is done now, including the Refrigeration Plant’s area below the LG floor level. The lack of information I have about this was a stumbling block and the work involved some more columns…eight different types of them!
The Boiler House Floor has also been finished now and that just needs the roof to be structurally complete. The same goes for the Refrigeration Plant. I get the impression the roof of that is going to be complex. I have some photos of the boilers being installed and they were lowered into the area next to the Boiler House and then rolled in. I don’t know how they installed the massive chillers; perhaps they had to put them in before the roof could be built.
With a new version of Blender released this week, I took some time out from the ‘Blender production’ work (that is, actually making things) to do some ‘Blender development’ (that is, playing, testing, experimenting, watching tutorials and so on). There are significant improvements to the sculpting tools, although as I have always approached my art from an architectural perspective rather than an artistic one, I haven’t done much with that…although if I can find a way to use this to improve my model then I certainly will.
Another fun feature is ‘rigid bodies’. Now this makes me very excited! Build something then just add gravity and it will move. This is very useful for creating untidiness – make a stack of boxes then let gravity do its thing. I used to like creating skips and filling them with junk – this was a very tedious task as I had to position everything exactly. Now I can just make the skip, stick the objects above it then let gravity put it in there – definitely useful and something that I can use to add realism to my construction site! The other fun thing about rigid bodies is demolition. Make a high-rise tower block and it just collapses realistically! The timing needs adjusting though, as the outside collapses before the inside.
Anyway; I digress. All that development work lead me to address one of my weak areas – texturing. I have slowly been progressing using the Cycles (render engine) ‘Node-based texturing’ but ‘UV mapping’ is something I have been afraid of, because it looks very complicated. This is basically about how a texture (say a JPG of some nice wallpaper) is applied to surfaces of objects. My approach to texturing so far in my Maybush model is somewhat sloppy and there was no way I could get any realistic renders of it without using UV mapping. After a couple of tutorials and some practice on my aforementioned condemned tower block, I have, this morning, finally done my first UV mapping work at Maybush, with a concrete texture applied to the walls of the subway between B and K core. This process is actually a lot less hassle than I thought it would be, mainly by two discoveries: pressing A then E in the UV editor fits the selected face(s) to the texture and if the bounds are outside the texture then it will be tiled.
Sunday 3 March 2013
The Boiler House area is almost structurally finished apart from the roof and so tomorrow I will start installing the largest of the pipes in that area, although much of it is guesswork. I have also started work on West Block’s underfloor heating trenches. These are one of the few areas that need constructing before I can say 100% of the Lower Ground Floor and the various trenches beneath it are structurally complete. One of the other areas is the long-abandoned underground heating trench in front of A, B and C cores. More guesswork will be needed there.
Monday 4 March 2013
As predicted, today has seen the commencement of the installation of many of the larger pipes in the Boiler House and the adjacent ‘pump alley’. So far, this has mainly been the latter. As I’m sure you’ll agree, reconstructing this from the limited photos there are is not easy.
Thursday 7 March 2013
Yesterday saw the installation of most of the rest of the heating pipes in the pump room adjacent to the Boiler House. These are reasonably correct. However, I am uncertain on what the layout was in the Boiler House itself. This is not helped by the fact that there are photos of three different iterations of that on file – the original setup (primarily oil fired boilers 1967-approx 1985), new gas boilers (1985-2000) and the CHP plant (2000-2010).
I have, however, installed the concrete bases ‘(plinths’) for the main boilers, chillers, heating pumps, condenser pumps and chilled water pumps. That concludes this wave of activity in this area and the focus will now move on to elsewhere on the site.
Saturday 9 March 2013
Yesterday saw the roof of the Refrigeration Plant constructed and some improvements to the textures there.
An early start today has seen no actual work take place but a few queries have been cleared up. After some confusion, I think I have the setup of the Refrigeration Plant’s main pipes and equipment figured out. Firstly, the discovery of a large hole in the roof of the Refrigeration Plant. This must have been used for lowering the huge chiller machines into the plant room. There was space for four of these but only three were ever installed as far as I know. Once installed, the hole was covered over but could easily be opened up again if the equipment needed replacing. This never happened, as the original chiller bodies were left but the equipment on top of them was replaced.
I am uncertain about the configuration of the condensate pumps, with the quesation of whether each chiller had its own cooling tower and set of pumps or if they all fed into the same pipe/header and shared the load . The chilled water circuit, on the other hand, was fed by all three chillers; if one went down then chilled water supply would continue but it would have either not been cold enough or would have put more strain on the remaining two chillers (potentially causing them to fail as well). However, it appears that this was changed at some point after construction. Recent photos show just four pipes between the Boiler House and Refrigeration Plant – two chilled water and two to the cooling towers. For the moment, I will use the more recent arrangement – as photos of the original setup are very scarce. I have no idea about the cooling tower water pump setup. I’ll leave that alone for now and move on!
This is my intended ‘to-do’ list for the immediate future:
- Install the huge Chilled Water and Condensate pipes. I have no other records whatsoever about that so it is going to have to be entirely done from photos.
- One that’s done then the Refrigeration Plant roof can go on, and this, fortunately, appears to be a completely flat slab so except for the aforementioned large hole, will be very straightforward. This will mark the structural completion of that area.
- Put in the underground ventilation duct adjacent to the subway in front of A/B/C core. That will mark the structural completion of the Lower Ground floor of Central Block, except for some minor work at E and H cores.
Friday 29 March 2013
After a couple of weeks or so doing other projects, I have recommenced work on site. Although I never got around to documenting it here, I did complete the work mentioned immediately above: the the roof of the Refrigeration Plant, the main Chilled Water and Condensate pipes and the A/B/C core front ventilation duct. The LG floor is thus structurally complete – except for the stairs.
The stairs – six sets of them in Central Block and three in West Block – are a major part of the project, and one of the more complex aspects. I think they were ‘precast’ rather than being cast on site. This prefabrication is a good idea and one that I will follow in my construction project. Working on anything in the main project can be slow and complicated whereas making the stairs in a separate file then just importing them will save time. The stairs themselves were fairly complex but far more time has been spent on the railings (balusters and banisters). Fortunately, there are no rails to the stairwell walls, just an internal set. The exception to this is stairwells where there are platforms leading to the entrance/exit doors, but those are straight.
The most complex bit was the curve to the internal railings, where the banister curves round by 90 degrees at the same time as curving upwards. Blender’s ‘Screw Modifier’ was the answer to this and after much experimentation, I got a very satisfying set of internal railings.
Fortunately, most of the stair flights are the same size and have eight steps. There are, as always, exceptions to this, mainly on the lower floors of the building. Yet more complication to deal with!
9 July 2013
Although it has been a few weeks since I have updated this page, I have been progressing a few things. Attention has turned to the Restaurant building, after discovering a much better way of importing my old 3DS Max model into Blender. A bit of re-work is required on a few things and that is mainly what has taken my time.
First up, the curtains needed to be made from scratch again. While it seems to be putting something as trivial as that before major construction work, they are useful in obscuring unfinished areas (like the kitchens). A lot of work has been completed regarding textures and materials. There was no proper system at all for this – it was just a case of add a texture and name it something that may be descriptive. Trouble with that was, it made it tricky to avoid duplication. Each texture has been given a category and a unique ID number (for example ‘TGF01’ for Glass, frosted), with a spreadsheet/database listing all these. I have partially implemented a similiar system for other components. This proved to be useful last year with the windows for West Block, and earlier this year with columns.
All the Restaurant materials needed recreating in Blender and work on that is partially underway, although it is difficult to find suitable textures for some things, like the vertical wood plank panelling. Work on this is partially complete to the ceiling of the flat-roofed front area of the building. I am more knowledgeable about materials in Blender than in Max, so hopefully some excellent quality can be achieved. Another fairly minor success is the bar that used to be in the Restaurant, which is nearly complete following the only photo I have ever seen that shows it.
Work on producing the new highly-detailed windows has started but was halted early on due to some uncertainties over the opening vent windows. I was chasing a red herring here by assuming that these had a pivot of some kind on the vertical sides (as the main WRB does) but was pleased to find that they’re good old simple vents with hinges on the top side. The WRB windows are going to be a right pain, as I have no useful detail of the pivot mechanism.
25 September 2013
This week, as the descent into winter is underway and the nights are colder and darker, is an ideal time to resume progress on this model. Back to the main building now (that is, Central Block), attention has gone to making the final parts of the substructure, which are the ground/foundations slabs of the Print and Helio floors. The latter has a network of trenches, about a foot deep, which I assume contained water pipes for all those sinks, and perhaps electricity too. Perhaps a tad too much detail but it was a quick job and I am hoping that, by the time I have finished this model, computing will have moved on to a state where there are no limits to handling a large number of polygons.
This is largely complete and just needs some tidying up where the trenches join to the edges, as the trenches also go through the Photographic area and where the new Reception was. It is just unfinished concrete now; the ‘Granwood’ floor finish will be added later, as the texture for that is going to be complex. It just looks very yellow in previous attempts. On the subject of materials/textures, some more work has also been undertaken in my master texture library, mainly with the different types of glass.
13 August 2018
After a hiatus of five years, work has again commenced on site in the last few weeks. The ground floor slab of the WRB was completed a few years ago but the new work has focused mainly on the Restaurant. Ongoing issues/uncertainty on the metal windows has caused much of the delay but work has started on these at last. The dreaded ‘scope creep’ has made me make these in greater detail but they should look great the and the cross-sections should allow me to use these to make the metal windows for the rest of the complex. The main uncertainty is the windows’ opening mechanism. The Restaurant is not too bad as it is a simple hinge and handle and the hinges do not need making as they will never be seen; I can just set the origin (pivot point) for these as the top of the windows so when I rotate them, they will pivot at the top and open realistically. No handles for now as I cannot see the mechanism for these in any pictures. However, the windows for the WRB are a nightmare as they pivot at the vertical centre point. I can make the fixed (non-opening) panes with ease so will just either do guesswork for the top sections. The best option may be what I have done for the Restaurant – simplified ‘temporary’ windows that have the distinctive protruding vertical bar between each bay so will do for now – they look fine unless inspected very close. The permanent and hopefully finalised ones are not far off, the opening vents are separate objects that will need to be finalised but I do not want to hold up the rest of the construction over these fine details.
Most the work on the Restaurant building has been:
- Replacing the old ‘temporary’ (Mk 1) windows that were imported from my previous 3DS model with the Mk 2 more detailed temporary windows.
- Realised that the dome windows on the NE facade have vents (louvres) at the bottom so they (Mk2) needed amending.
- As above but for the doors – these need more work (although they appear simple and the pivot point is obvious).
- Creating the wallpaper for the Common Room/former waitress service room, this was created entirely by drawing circles and using the Boolean function to subtract parts of these. It’s greyscale at the moment but can easily be coloured with various shades of grey/cream/beige and brown/orange. I attempted to guess the colours from the black and white photo but with little success so I’ll guess.
- Replacing the individual recessed lights in the flat-roofed front seating area and Common Room with arrays so changing one light will change them all – this makes an awful lot of sense!
- Doing the same with the plastic ventilation diffusers (in the same areas as the aforementioned lights), these were even worse, comprising of about five separate objects for each one (a legacy imported from the previous 3DS model). I have created one great diffuser (made by myself from ‘lathing’ several curves) and combined all the parts into one object then used the array function so again, if I edit one then it will update every other instance.
- Tidying up materials and textures – a lot of items still have the ones that were imported from 3DS and there are many similar items with meaningless names (for example, about five different versions of windows frame paint (when only at most two is needed) so I have consolidated the materials in the objects I have edited so far and created a few new ones. These use the naming convention and category code system I have devised and partially implemented several years ago.
- Updating the ceiling pattern panels in the flat roofed front seating area and common room, these were largely correct but needed lifting a few cm below the main ceiling to offset them slightly. These also needed new textures and subsequently UV mapping (a pain!). Also created new texture for the flat ceiling that the panels are attached too as the previous one was half-finished.
The front flat roofed area and Common Room area are almost complete with the exception of the radiators – a right pain as there are no plans of them. I will have to try and make these from photos. Luckily there are not many radiators elsewhere on site, only in the lift lobbies I think. The main heaters under the windows in offices are easy as I just need to model the vent louvres. Skirting boards also need adding but those are very simple.
The kitchens and entrance lobbies need a lot of work and the kitchen’s clerestory roof is also unfinished.
Pictures to follow…
I discovered that the columns on the perimeter of the Restaurant building were considerably too fat so I have shrunk them down from 30 cm
Progress at last! After a hiatus of five years, work has again commenced on site in the last few weeks! The ground floor slab of