Domestic bliss when home and away

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Faced with a tight deadline and no in-house 3D modelling skills, Architecture & Design Services took a leap of faith by adopting a new product suite of MicroGDS and Piranesi. Learning the technology from scratch it delivered its artistic concepts in just two weeks.

Essex-based Architecture & Design Services, a specialist in large scale leisure centre refurbishments and domestic projects, was facing a major challenge. The two-man architectural practice had secured a brief to produce sketch designs for a new-build domestic property, from a client who would be abroad for the entire design phase. Added to that the firm had no in-house 3D modelling skills and was given just two weeks to complete the brief.

Easy does it

(Above) MicroGDS was used to create an accurate 3D model for concept designs. (Below) This 3D model was then brought into Piranesi where textures, colours and blends were ‘painted’ on to produce artistic sketches.

Mark Cotton, director at Architecture & Design Services, decided that simple tools were needed to help to quickly create a 3D model and be able to prepare artistic representations of the project. The firm decided on a combination of MicroGDS Compact 3D and Piranesi from Informatix Software to complete the task.

Mark took delivery of the products on the Monday morning and started to work through the training materials. He and his partner received a standard foundation course from Informatix and learnt the rest of the programme by themselves. With no previous experience of MicroGDS but with many years using AutoCAD, Mark found initial 2D drawings were easy to produce as many common CAD standards are employed within the product. The initial 2D drawings were then used as the basis for the 3D model.

When working in 3D MicroGDS provides feedback and navigational controls. This helped Mark and his partner accelerate through the learning curve and become productive very quickly. “The 3D Model navigation was very intuitive and the non-wireframe option made for easy object selection and handling,” he said. Combining the need to learn a new software product and the new discipline of designing a project from inception in 3D was challenging, but by Wednesday the first 3D model was ready to show to the client for initial discussions.

File sharing

As the client was abroad throughout the entire design process, it was a necessity to share the designs digitally. The client used the free MicroGDS model viewer to view the designs, and because all MicroGDS project files are small, bandwidth was not a problem. Mark created two initial designs, which the client was able to review from a remote location and provide instant feedback on the concepts. A number of changes were needed before the client was satisfied, but the digital process helped Architecture & Design Services maintain pace on the project.

MicroGDS was used to create an accurate 3D model for concept designs, from this model 2D elevation and design drawings could be extracted. This was regarded as a major benefit by Architecture & Design Services, saving significant time by supporting the need for quick 3D concept design and the basis for the design drawings. Next, for the production of the artistic images, the 3D model was exported to Piranesi where textures, colours and blends were ‘painted’ on.


In very short period of time Architecture & Design Services was able to produce a portfolio of concept designs which exceeded their client’s expectations and complete the commission comfortably within the deadline. From being faced with a seemingly huge challenge, at the end of the two weeks the firm had added another competency to the business, built a new revenue stream and has since secured repeat business on the back of that initial project.


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