# GLA

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GLA means Greater London Authority, housed in one of the strangest buildings in the world, a 45m tilted undescribable shape near the Tower Bridge, Thames. For a relatively small structure it has attracted more controversy in its brief life than even the Dome. But despite its odd looks it is an engineering marvel, with clever use of geometry and materials to reduce energy requirements over a conventional "square" building by a factor of 4. Apart from which, its design aims to demonstrate the need for transparency of government.It is a nightmare to build.Since its now taken up a major part of my FU3 time for the last few weeks, I thought just for interest (and for the sake of other modellers) I would describe the process.1. Graphic documentation. That means photos and a few basic statistics about the building, not architectural drawings which are far too detailed. I was fortunate to find a high resolution cross-sectional of the GLA building.2. Digitisation. That means running a tracing cross over the outside to extract important reference positions, about three for each floor of the building (10 floors). THis is a critical stage, because this frame is then rotated to generate other co-ords and if I misread a point, the building loses its smoothness, looks crinkly. So for the other Norman Foster building, the Green Gherkin (or Swiss thingame), I fitted parabolic curves for smoothing to the data, giving a much more streamline look to its profile. Parabolas worked fine there, but here the GLA building is tilted 17 deg, and each floor offset except on its back spine, but since the original was good res, I've not used smoothing.3. Generation of mesh. I rotated each floor independently, recalculating centres and offsets to get reasonable accuracy in detail. But here I made a new choice, one I've never tried before, to try and render the walls as triangular sections, not the usual four-sided figures. This should have given better curve fitting. This means each successive level is rotated by 15 deg relative to the next. After I had done 4 floors, I checked the results. Very disappointing, because as you fly past the building, the edges of the triangles come in and out alternately for each layer, warping the overlayed textures badly. I concluded I coudn't use this method without increasing the polygon count to about the level of a Staggerwing, and so went back to standard geometry. I got reasonable results with 12 point circles, and so for such a small building, I stuck with this. Now I redid all of the earlier floors, and have since built up to level 9, one level to go and the main roof to add. This means 48 poygons per floor.4. Textures. I had some good photos, but because the geometry is highly rounded, none of the photos gave me good textures, as there was always some warp or twist in the pics. So I made a rough texture from a photo, then redrew a small element by hand, duplicated this, varied the window shading and pattern to create the illusion of reflection in the windows, then made this the standard element. The backbone area gave me some problems - the glass panels are about 2/3 of a floor high, and in the end to save texture space I had to make them 1 floor high each, causing some fitting problems. If I can rethink or improve this before release I will. The maths gets messy here.5. Details. I've done none of the ground level details, although I'll try adding a ground overlay around the base (as I did, disastrously, for the London Eye! - I've got to remove that some time). Transparency is an issue with a glass building (Duh!), but I am not impressed by FU3's handling of transparency - basically it paints planes in the wrong order. Just look at the Victory fountain outside Buckingham Pl - I have rebuilt that three times now trying to get it to draw in the right way, and in ModelView it looks fines, but the real thing seems to draw the base last. So I have not used them. But this building really cries out for transparent textures.Below I've added some pics of progress - a real photo versus the model. You can see the effect of the approximations I've made, but remember the green gherkin building - at this stage it alslo looked pretty rough and I'm sure by the end it will be ok.I hope.Cheers, Robert.http://forums.avsim.net/user_files/161093.jpghttp://forums.avsim.net/user_files/161094.jpg

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Rob,It'll be fine - whatever it's supposed to look like ;-) Are you telling me that you're using a textfile to do this??? I looked at it for 5 minutes with me freeDS cap on and it's truly scary - IF you want all dem windas ;-)Weird - I wouldn't know about environmental efficiency down under - unless you were trying to create some form of inhabited heliostat. Certainly good for an ice age - or London :-boomAnd what's this preoccupation with keeping polycount down (now that we know it has less to do with framerates than the number of models)???As many polys as a Staggerwing? What? Afraid of pushing the 2000 poly limit?http://forums.avsim.net/user_files/161132.jpgI am. But not afraind to push the limits of believability:http://forums.avsim.net/user_files/161133.jpg :-lolOf course, for those that don't understand why I would texture INSIDE an FBO, apart from making believable venetian blinds...http://forums.avsim.net/user_files/161134.jpgEaster eggs of course. There's even a Glidernut's Gliding School poster in the Men's ;-)Speaking of 'extra' textures folks, you can find Rob's mark in other places :-rollhttp://forums.avsim.net/user_files/161135.jpgNot that HE put them there. To those that don't understand the "James is a weiner" bit, you obviously haven't wrestled with BSP.EXE!Back to Muskratting the D17 :-waveRegards,Jon Point

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Thanks Jon for Pointing out that I'm still working in the Stonehenge age. I don't care. Well I do but I'll never admit it. I knew about the signs inside the FBO's but I'd never actually seen them. Its difficult to get the Baron up those front steps. Anyway, here's an update on the topless model shown earlier:http://forums.avsim.net/user_files/161154.jpgAs you can now see I've added some lighting and put on her lid. Final stats: 431 polygons. All done by hand, numbers crunched on a calculator. The lighting I think improves the "roundness", but to use the triangular elements I started with, it would have taken about 3x as many as this and I probably wouldn't have finished before the bronze age.In context, the building is a wee little nubbin over which the Tower Bridge, um, towers. That was part of the controversy - its a bit small for the headquarters of the greatest city on the planet (after Ulverstone, where I grew up. And Sydney, of course).The top two layers were much harder than the lower ones, but the final roofing was fairly easy. I might work on it a bit more, we'll see.Robert.

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Rob,You really have to crash through them, stopping on the way to admire the posters and combustion stove - or - park outside, hit F5 and pan & zoom :-rollIf you're careful, at Clare's Valley, you can zoom back in through the carpark doors, down the hall, out the front and down the path. Of course you can't get into the plane because FU3 doesn't really have opening doors but hey!As to the bent beehive/bondi mountain/shark egg/GLA thingy, it looks great now - the top floors and roof do the job nicely! As to the assembly method, I can see that I'm a rank amateur here :-lol431 polys? I uz thinkin' - er, about a thousand ;-)I remember giving the method away when the grandstand I was making simply drove me away from FU3 for about 2 months. Then with the GeeBee beckoning, I somehow got stuck with doing it all in software...At least being a Government building, it won't need internal lighting at night ;-) Regards,Jon Point

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I used anim8or for the Welsh caves, and it was fine but I didn't persist enough to get to that level where it was easy, and I found it very hard to use the UV tool (I'm not the only one - there's scads of tutorials on the web for it - well one or two anyway). So I went back text files, with a strong recommendation that no-one else should use the same method! - Use the 3DS-type packages, or agtim's conversion tool method, but DON'T DON'T use a text editor. But I love building this way. Especially if there's the right degree of challenge to make it fun but not futile. GLA is up at the edge of those two, and if you look carefully you can see the compromises I've had to make (eg the viewing gallery isn't). I WILL do night lighting - at night the building is beautifully lit and looks like a jewel. Even though its government offices! I really don't know whether I think its ugly or beautiful by day - having built a model of it I think I understand it better, but its a struggle to love it. About the Swiss building I'm less equivocal - it is beautiful. Doesn't matter, if its a reasonable challenge and significant enough, I'll build it. But the point is, the GLA is fairly small. You notice it only because of its odd shape and the flat grassy area surrounding it (I'm judging from photos - never been to UK myself). Its not possible to do every building, so I pick ones that stand out and are a bit dramatic, like No 42 for its height, the Canary Wharf buildings because the big three are so dominant there, a beautiful school building next to the Excel centre etc.I noticed with one of your other buildings that you had what looked like a log fire (or maybe an electric log fire) inside! Could you send me your version of BSP? I'm still using the old one and after the hard disk crash lost the original version. Maybe that could handle transparent textures better. The biggest limitations (and why I can't wait for FU4) are:- transparent textures not handled correctly- no moving parts on scenery models- 256 colour paletteWith Fretherne I've got well over 3000 models now and FU3 handles it fairly well - framerates about 8-10 up to 25. Most of those models are simple but have high quality (256x256) textures, so its amazing what brute force can do. Over 3000 and the framerate started to decline, so that's the current limit I think. Its funny how one key feature can make a difference. I knew of a "manor" building but thought it too difficult to be worth while, and anyway, it was pink! But then I built it and put a little fountain and some trees out the front, and I couldn't believe the difference it made - its on a small rise (hillock?) that makes it dominate the whole area and adds to the realism.So with FU3 I've got the best of both worlds - high quality photo scenery from above 2000 ft, and highly detailed modelled scenery in small areas at low altitudes.Someone (I forget who) challenged me to make the GLA, and I said it was too difficult, and then I did it. Same happened with the fuel truck. Someone (I Wunder who?) also challenged me to make the Westminster Abbey, and I collected 30 or 40 pics, and then gave up - that's still too hard. But now I'm having serious looks at the Tower Fort - the double walls and detailed interior roads and buildings looks formidable, but it would be great fun!Enough ramblings, thanks for your comments Jon, and also for your amazing planes and pylons and FBO's and all.Robert.

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As we've come to expect, another gem from down under :-) Here, on top of the world, it's all rectangular buildings based on templates from RobD. Speaking of which, I'm slowly working on another texture to apply to a RobD template. The thing is, I've been busy getting married lately and I'm currently focused on setting up a DVD with slides and video segments of the event. However, this shouldn't be allowed to interfere with finishing my minor contributions to FU3...Rob, if you need to back up your latest building you could always consider sending me a pre-release copy :-) Now I really have to save for a more powerful computer to be able to run my good ol' FU3 with all of these highly complicated Australian models. Hans Petter

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Congratulations! Wonderful news, and I wish you all the best.I can see how a little thing like that might distract you for a short time from the important things in life.But seriously,May your wedding preparations be a joint labour,May your wedding be a pleasant effort shared,May your marriage be a combined work to savour,And your life a task paired.Cheers,Robert.

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