The first time I spoke with Ben Hobart, what struck me the most was his unwavering conviction of his career choice. In his own words: “I’ve always wanted to be an architect ever since I was in primary school. Even as a child, I wanted to build houses and was already looking at designing programs that would help me”.
Ben is a final year architecture student and had used several different modelling software programs even before he started his university journey. He is an avid techie, especially when it comes to exploring new software and discovering what new features and tools will add value and benefit to his applications in his field of studies.
During his work experience with an architecture company, Ben learnt about SketchUp and was impressed by how much it had enriched his learning experience and contributed to his 3D-Modelling skillset as a whole. Ben is currently a member of the SketchUp team at BuildingPoint Australia.
I sat down with Ben and talked to him about his learning experience whilst using SketchUp, and how it benefitted him as an Architecture student.
How did you find out about SketchUp?
At a very young age, I was already into designing and building houses and thinking about being an architect, so I have always been interested in learning about 3D-design and modelling software. I started working with SketchUp when I was in Grade 12 doing work experience with an architecture company.
It seems like you’ve known about SketchUp from a very young age, and you are still using SketchUp now. Would you say your experience with SketchUp has changed over the years in terms of learning and usage?
I have been using more of SketchUp for the last two years to help with my university studies. However, it was only recently that I actually took the full SketchUp master course (from the SketchUp Australia website), learning the proper ways of using the tools and all the tips and tricks that allow me to use SketchUp confidently. Before taking the course, I was more or less learning by exploring and doing things my own way, and sometimes, things didn’t work out the way I wanted them to. To be honest, I wasn’t using SketchUp very efficiently.
My SketchUp skills have improved exponentially since completing the course, and it was easy for me to learn the tutorials because I was already familiar with the features, and they reinforced some of my knowledge. I am now more productive and better equipped with the knowledge and skills I need to be creative with my designs. Even a quarter way through the course, I felt that I was doing things that I wasn’t able to do before, so the courses really helped me a lot. Back in Uni, I was even using my knowledge to help my classmates and showing them new ways of using SketchUp.
How is SketchUp different from the other 3D-modelling software that you have used?
I really love how intuitive the software is. Once you have a handle on the basics, the only limitation is how creative you are. With SketchUp, I’m more likely to explore new features and dive into new uses because it is so easy to learn. Even just spending ten minutes on the tutorials each time, I could pick up new things that come in handy for me to use SketchUp.
Also, I feel there are less constraints for me to be creative in SketchUp.
How does SketchUp fit in with what you are learning in Architecture?
In my studies, there has been a large focus on iterative design. Typically, this is done through making physical massing models. SketchUp is the perfect tool to assist in the iterative design process as little time is wasted copying models and workshopping ideas virtually before doing physical model studies.
Building a model using SketchUp actually helps me to better understand how the different components of a design come together layer by layer, how the different parts of a building fit in with each other. This is important to me because it relates to all the principles of architecture that I am learning. Another software might pump out an entire model fully fitted, though convenient, would not have helped me understand as much.Ben Hobart
Also, building a model using SketchUp actually helps me to better understand how the different components of a design come together layer by layer, how the different parts of a building fit in with each other. This is important to me because it relates to all the principles of architecture that I am learning. Another software might pump out an entire model fully fitted, though convenient, would not have helped me understand as much.
Tell us some of the work that you have created with SketchUp during your work experience and what did you learn from these projects?
I did some work experience when I was in grade 12, and I designed and modelled a beach house which taught me a lot of things. Back then, I didn’t have the opportunities to learn SketchUp properly which caused me to make some mistakes, so the first model I created wasn’t that good. But I realised that was a part of my learning journey and I see each mistake as a learning opportunity. I have since refined my modelling techniques to a point where I feel that I’m very efficient and effective at modelling ideas and diagrams for all of my University projects.
What has SketchUp help you achieve as an architecture student so far?
The best thing about SketchUp, is how much time you save creating beautiful models, diagrams and concepts without the constraints of traditional BIM modelling software. This initial concept development phase is all about generating as many different ideas as possible to solve a design problem.Ben Hobart
The best thing about SketchUp, is how much time you save creating beautiful models, diagrams and concepts without the constraints of traditional BIM modelling software. This initial concept development phase is all about generating as many different ideas as possible to solve a design problem. Once I’m past this phase, it’s very easy to import my models into other programs for documentation, etc.
I once created a model of a cavernous restaurant using SketchUp and I enjoyed the creative experience of being able to design an unconventional structure without being constrained or limited by what I can do with the software and SketchUp was perfect for that job.
What do you think SketchUp can do for you in your career goals?
In terms of using the core tools in SketchUp, I am pretty confident of my abilities. I think that because of my skills in SketchUp, I have become a much better designer. I think that being adept in SketchUp also allows me to communicate my ideas very clearly and effectively. I can see myself using SketchUp in the workplace to put together a design idea, produce a quick visual and selling that idea to the client. In doing so, I hope to become more effective in bringing my ideas to the client and helping them visualise my design.
Article by Amos Soo
Many thanks to Ben Hobart for sharing his story with SketchUp.
All illustrations in this article by courtesy of Ben Hobart.