What Interior Designers Need To Know About Navisworks
By: Richard Obaitan
There is a vast number of design software available to choose from these days. Filling every design and documenting need are a host of proprietary and open source design packages with their unique strengths and areas of specialisation. Some of the popular ones used by interior designers include AutoCAD, SketchUP, Revit Architecture and 3ds Max, to mention a few. Although primarily used as a complement to 3D design packages like Revit Architecture, Navisworks applications offer its users interesting advantages which interior designers may well consider.
Navisworks’ applications have capabilities which include clash detection in 3D models, rendering and animation, design elements quantification, and timeline and project management tools. It is also the 3D design review tool (it has 2D support as well) and coordination platform for many multi-disciplinary design outfits; it allows users to open and combine 3D models from a wide range of design file formats, navigate around and review them using a set of tools for comments, redlining, viewpoints, and measurements.
While Navisworks applications are not expected to replace traditional design and modelling software anytime soon, they complement them in ways that make the design workflow more efficient. This is why small firms are also beginning to show interest in Navisworks applications (Manage and Simulate). It is useful to also mention that Navisworks (an Autodesk product) is a BIM platform and works seamlessly with leading design applications like Revit Architecture and AutoCAD. Revit users can export NWC files (to be opened in Navisworks) directly from Revit using a plug-in or by installing a stand-alone utility for this, and AutoCAD files (DWG files) can be opened directly in Navisworks. So what are the advantages for interior designers using Navisworks?
Convenient Presentation And Review Options – Design projects are often multi-disciplinary and many involve the use of different design applications. Hence, the interior designer usually needs inputs from the architect and may need to interact with him through the design process to accommodate changes in the space. With Navisworks, design teams, clients and consultants are able to combine the design files (3D models) from all the relevant project teams, often from different applications and in diverse file formats, into one file for review.
Files imported and saved in Navisworks contain only relevant design information, hence we have smaller files that can be opened and reviewed on computers and tablets easily; elaborate 3D models can be viewed, walked-through and analyzed conveniently. These files are compressed, secure, and a practical solution to streaming large CAD files and the costs involved.
Navisworks also provides a free viewer (Navisworks Freedom) that clients and consultants can download to view Navisworks files (NWD file format) sent to them. This viewer allows the user to interact with a 3D model (rotate, spin, flip and walk through it) and take basic measurements. Clients can even generate 3D views while reviewing files sent to them, improving their overall understanding of the design and the positioning of design elements.
Improves Collision Detection – No more “column in chair” situations in conference rooms! One of the core strengths of Navisworks is its use for clash detection in designs. Users can combine multi-disciplinary design data into a single integrated project file for interference management. This is very useful for the interior designer, he can combine his design files and those from the architecture and MEP teams into one comprehensive 3D model and check for geometry conflicts. With this he can eliminate the usual design errors and confirm design element (furniture) placements. Detecting these geometry conflicts and fixing them while still at the design phase improves efficiency, saves time and prevents costly remedies during construction or installation.
Provides Quantification Tools – Essential to every design project is estimation and costing. Aside using Navisworks to review 3D designs, interior designers can also use this platform for quantification and to generate estimates. The user is provided with tools to control the visibility of model elements. By "turning-off" some parts of the model, the user can automatically generate material estimates, measure areas and quantify design elements.
Project Management Support – A fun and functional feature of Navisworks is the 4D simulation feature. Timeliner tools give the user the ability to link 3D geometry to times and dates, simulating the installation, construction or demolition of the model over time. This feature along with the software’s ability to link with and import project schedules from software like Microsoft Project and Primavera products makes Navisworks a powerful tool for project management. The 4D simulation feature also comes in handy for presentations; the interior designer’s presentation can also incorporate the time element, be mere visual and interesting.
Photorealistic Visualization – The software provides advanced rendering features to create good quality images and animations for presentations – another reason interior designers should consider Navisworks. Its cloud-based rendering system provides various material, lighting and background (real-world scenery) options. Navisworks also supports real-time display of materials and lighting.