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Stair PIO



The stair PIO is improved in VW12.5 however it still lacks an important feature in that the stairs are constructed without newel posts. All banister rails should start and end at a newel post This is especially frustrating when using winders. Also the winder feature does not reflect real life construction in the UK where the winders are constructed as a 90 degree "winder box" with the winder treads or "kites" all rotate about the winder box newel post. The VW "kites" sometimes start before the winder which just never happens in the real world. The winders should only be within the winder box, with control over the number of treads within that box.

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Several needs:

- To control where the handrail stops and starts.

- To have or not have newel posts.

- To have choices for infills other than balusters (eg. rails, glazed panels etc.).

For now I have given up on using the handrail portion of the new stair object because it almost never gives the result I want at the ends and landing transitions. I use the handrail tool instead. Even then the results are not good because the bottoms of the posts are inclined. The only other option is to model them from scratch. Sometimes it is quicker.

As Sean has pointed out the winder implementation still doesn't work as it should. ie. replicate how you would actually build the stair.

Edited by mike m oz
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I think it may be asking too much to have a PIO that models handrails and guardrails. These are typically the most difficult and situational aspects of a design. I end up doing them using 3d solids tools. What would be nice is an "extrude along path" tool that is constrained to generate typical handrail geometry (i.e., without twisting the profile in an odd way as it goes around corners, etc.).

There may be some other ideas that depart from the current PIO architecture that would work well for customizing stairs. For example, could we have a tool whereby we draw the treads in 2d, then generate from that a set of stairs equally spaced along the z axis, etc.? To me, that kind of flexible tool that allows easy edits and changes in parameters yet can be adapted to an infinite variety of situations is what we need, more than an attempt to over-automate.

Too many VW tools these days assume a very standardized approach, and make it easier to crank out cookie-cutter design. CAD should make it easier to produce the added-value that an architect brings to the project - the equivalent to "mass-customization" in production ("mass-customization" - not a pretty term to some ears, but it basically means levering intelligence to produce better stuff).

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Pete, there is a fairly quick way to model a stair from a plan view.

- Draw your treads as you want them in 2D Top/Plan view.

- Add temporary top and bottom treads for the two floor levels.

- Select all of the 2D treads and extrude them by the tread thickness (the extruded treads will be in a group).

- Enter the group and in a front view move the top tread so its bottom face is at the above floor height.

- Select all of the treads and use the Align Distribute tool to distribute them equally vertically.

- Delete the bottom tread, and the top tread if it is not required.

- Exit the group and then move it down by the tread thickness.

You will still have to model the stringers etc. but the basic stair geometry is there for you to work around.

If all of your treads are the same then the VW12.5 Duplicate Array tool with its added Z parameter makes it very easy to get the treads located correctly in 3D space.

One of the advantages (or disadvantages) of having started with the program nearly 13+ years ago is that I learnt how to model stuff myself because I had to. There are times when it comes in handy.

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Mike, thanks - actually, that's the way I do it! Because it is somewhat easy to do, I thought it would be pretty easy for NNA to write the routines into the program.

My real point, though, is to stimulate thought about how stairs and other tools could become more powerful and at the same time maximize flexibility. Thinking about stairs in terms of "flights and landings", and writing interfaces limited to that concept, limits design flexibility. Or, thinking about it another way, directs us into design standardization because it becomes the path of expediency.

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The problem would be how you deal with the junctions, just as it is manually. Coming up with a reliable 'set of program rules' for dealing with all circumstances would be very difficult. Different people will want different 'rules' to apply.

For example in our context a non residential stair balustrade must have gaps no bigger than 125 mm between components (balusters or railings) and the stair handrails has to:

- be continuous (ie. no vertical sections or gaps).

- have a minimum height of 900 mm above nosings.

- have horizontal sections 300 mm long top and bottom which either turn down or return to a wall.

- transition at ends to 1000 mm height where there is a connecting floor balustrade.

Add in complications like whether you make the handrail continuous by offsetting the flights by one tread or by extending both flight handrails by half a tread and it starts getting very difficult to devise 'rules'.

Residential stairs aren't quite as bad - there are regulation about winder tread dimensions though as well as the reality of how you actually construct a winder and deal with the balustrade and handrail junctions.

The other issue yet to be dealt with in the stair PIO is the construction. At the moment you can have either a timber stair where the stringers are profiled to the treads or a quasi solid stair. With each the juctions at landings aren't quite right though. You cannot have a timber or steel stair where the treads are in between the stringers though.

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