Twinmotion’s use in architectural tectonics course helps students land coveted internships
Beach first encountered Twinmotion at Autodesk University in the fall of 2018. He downloaded the software in his hotel room and started using it that evening.
“As I began to wade knee-deep into Twinmotion, there was one major standout feature that compelled me to bring it into the classroom setting as a core, compulsory tool to teach all of our architecture students: Twinmotion is a living, breathing virtual sandbox for a designer to explore and evolve their ideas,” he says, citing the way the layout and methodology allow for nonlinear thinking.
Beach goes on to explain that in his opinion, architectural visualization works at its best when it is a byproduct of a robust design process that involves visualization from the earliest phases in design, all the way through to the finalized design documents.
“Twinmotion excels at delivering that kind of rapid, nonlinear, creative virtual workspace that does more than visualization. It allows my students to move their designs forward with clearer communication, more formal and material explorations, and the use of immersion to understand space and scale through real-time exploration of the spaces, including the deployment of VR.
“Immediately upon dropping in 3D models, my students get both an enhanced understanding of space and very quickly begin to understand their designs from an immersive perspective. Navigating around in the first person creates moments of discovery and revelation that create new ways to see the design and express the product created,” he continues.
Twinmotion is currently taught in two Drury University classes, with a third already planned. One is a second-year architectural class that focuses on modeling architectural precedents; the resulting immersive VR experiences offer young students an opportunity to visit and explore amazing architectural spaces. Twinmotion is the key visualization tool for the course, with FormIt, Revit, and Rhino as the modeling platforms. Twinmotion offers direct one-click synchronization with both Revit and Rhino, as well as with ArchiCAD, SketchUp Pro, and RIKCAD.
The other class is a third-year architectural design studio focusing on tectonics—which is defined architecturally as “the science or art of construction, both in relation to use and artistic design.” With tectonic architecture, materials and construction methods inform the design process. An extreme example is the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
In Beach’s fall 2019 tectonics course, students were tasked with developing a fireboat boathouse in downtown Chicago. Each student began by working on a design precedent study, which was modeled in Revit and then imported into Twinmotion. This one-to-two week assignment introduced the students to the primary toolset and created the opportunity to take the entire class on virtual field trips to relevant designs through VR.
The students’ next responsibility was to create a section design for their project. This forces an architecture student to consider spatial qualities, constructability, and materiality as important factors prior to the building’s organization and function, Beach explains. This mode of work gave the students the chance to see the process through a restrictive, but different, design process lens that pushed them creatively. Twinmotion was used to explore both materiality and spatial qualities in the design—including peer-to-peer review using both VR and 2D screen displays.
Finally, the students moved into full building designs and final presentations, which were completed as a combination of technical information—plans, sections, and elevations using traditional large-format paper presentations on the wall—and a “living” presentation of their designs using multiple images and animations created in Twinmotion to help communicate their design. Twinmotion Presenter enables users to create a packaged presentation as a standalone executable.
One student’s Fireboat Boathouse project was so impressive that it led to his receiving multiple professional internship offers, while many other students also gained coveted internships, a factor Beach attributes partially to Twinmotion.
“This was a common story from my semester teaching—and granted, I had an exceptional group of students, but the quality, clarity, and innovation of their presentations helped many of the students build the connections to gain internships,” he says. Beach requires only 45 minutes to get his students up and running in Twinmotion, and the students react very positively. “The students here love it,” says Beach. “Many of our students express ‘this is what I want architecture to feel like!’ Fluid, creative freedom that really gives them an idea of what they are designing in a blatantly honest medium.
“If the design is not coming together well, it will not look good in Twinmotion—they can clearly see where the material palette is not successful, where the formal arrangement is not reaching its potential, and where navigation is convoluted and confusing. Each of those items is incredibly difficult to convey as an educator, and takes time and practice as a student. Twinmotion provides the students that immediate feedback and clarity that, when combined with good academic instruction, allows us to move faster into more engaging design solutions.”
Beach also values Twinmotion’s ability to run stably on a wide range of hardware, and not just the highest-end machines.
“I have everything from four- to five-year-old Macintosh laptops, to über-high-end PC gaming rigs. While Twinmotion may not navigate with the buttery smoothness it would on a $3,500 Alienware, it is still very stable and usable at 15 fps on a four to five-year-old computer for our students. As an educator, this reliability is paramount. Twinmotion has been as close to flawless as I can expect in an environment with multiple students each working on their own device.”
Twinmotion is free for students and educators. Download your copy today.
Also, be sure to catch our recent educator livestream on Twinmotion 2020 for Educators. David Beach joined us to give a hands-on demonstration of Twinmotion, showing us how you can take your design data from CAD and 3D applications into Twinmotion to quickly build convincing environments and create high-quality outputs.