BILT Speaker

BILT Speaker
RevitCat - Revit Consultant

Friday, 4 September 2015

Perfect Stair Railing Transitions at Half Landings

I am currently in Sri Lanka en route to the inaugural Asian Revit Technology Conference in Singapore - RTC Asia 2015 at the Singapore  from 10 - 12 September 2015.  If you can possibly get to RTC in Singapore next week you really should do so - you will certainly learn a lot about Revit and/or BIM, regardless of your skill levels.  Your investment in the conference will pay for itself many times over.

The reason for my current detour is to do some research for the conference - to learn from one of the great masters of architectural detailing, renowned Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa.  He has designed many beautiful buildings by perfectly managing spaces, repeating patterns and a great attention to detail - all with an elegant simplicity.

At the conference I will be presenting a lab session on stairs and railings (afternoon on day one), so I have been paying close attention to handrail details.  Some of Bawa's details are very chunky, as per the style of the time - but they still look good several decades later.

Sometimes Bawa's details are less elegant than whimsical - in fact can be downright scary, but those examples are few and far between: 
5-headed cobra handrail termination
Now that would be a challenge for Revit to model as a handrail termination!

Railing Transitions

Handrail transitions at half landings have always been a problem for Revit to achieve neatly, but with the changes to railings in v2013 the situation actually got worse - if you try to use the new Top Rail or Handrail features.  Revit seems to require lots of extra horizontal space to make the turns - as documented previously - Top Rail Transitions and Top Rail Offsets

Geoffrey Bawa detailed his handrails to transition perfectly where they turned a corner without the extra horizontal lengths that Revit insists on, as seen below:

Revit Transitions
Bawa Transitions

If Bawa and his craftsmen could do it perfectly, why can't Revit?  Revit should learn from a great master.


  1. Simple : because Revit was not made by seniors drafters and architects.

  2. You are mistaken, it was...and still is.

    Your claim suggests all architects and drafting staff agree on everything. I think there is plenty of evidence that isn't true, though I'm confident a majority of Revit users would agree railings could improve.

    What the developers and designers of Revit ARE guilty of is not placing a high enough priority on design tools for railings, for far too long.

  3. Tim - Revit lacks some finishing tools like sandpaper, rasp, and putty. :)

    Oh, and a trowel and broom for finishing concrete.

  4. Dont get me wrong, but are those developpers kept the pace on construction reality?
    I mean, i could teach architecture for years with a rough idea of how technicaly detaillings and assemblies are and call myself senior, but the reality if far from those theories and books.
    I can take for example stair's components , but i could also mention the case for curtain-wall, mullions, curtain panels, finishes and so on.
    These are TOOLS in Revit, though by somes and with a particuliar process and not always that much adaptable to different firm's practices.

    We, architects, have to bend the tool.