A Stilt Playhouse Based on Real World Carpentry - Click Images for Enlarged View

Stilt Playhouse - 3D Model (2010) (This is the link to open the 3D model in the Hypercosm viewer. It will open in a new tab/window.)
Within the model viewer, if you click the Camera icon you can quickly navigate to some predefined views.
There is a lot of geometry in this model. That means it is a large and complex file that may not display in your browser smoothly. It can't hurt to try. Just know that if it looks odd (missing a surface or something similar), it's most likely because your computer can't handle it. There's nothing wrong with the file itself. Sometimes reloading the model will correct these errors.

One evening I decided to design a playhouse. The exercise of this project was to design a 3D model based on real world building materials and techniques. I made great effort to make optimum usage of commonly available materials and utilizing construction techniques that a capable handyman type homeowner could replicate.

I created the original model in early 2009. In 2010, I revisited this project and recreated the model completely. I feel this new version is greatly improved, in both the modeling techniques I used and in the actual construction design of the structure. This model looks deceiving simple. I assure you it is not.

Building Details:

As I mentioned there are many aspects to this design that I put considerable time and thought into making it very material (and thus cost) effective as well as making it as easy as possible to build, while maintaining structural integrity. Here are a few examples:

Model Details:
I did my first design work in CAD, working out the general concept and dimensions. Then the 3D work was done in Google’s SketchUp. Although I have access to other modeling software, I like SketchUp. One of the main reasons for this is the very large community that has evolved around this application, and the fact it has open source APIs. Once I had the components in a 3D environment, I was able to fine tune everything and create the 3D views. I used PaintShop Pro to make/edit some textures, creating watermarks, and for conversion of the final images for this site.
Most of the components in the model I created from scratch. However, no need to re-invent what someone else has already done so a few of the components are from the Google Warehouse. Those items include: Binoculars, Birdhouse and the Hanger it is on, Bucket, Swing Seat, People, Weathervane, and the detailed Rope Component that I built the rope swing with.
The 3D model was exported from SketchUp using HyperCosm. The video was exported to an .avi format using SketchUp's built in Exporter. The resulting .avi was converted to Flash using Macromedia's Flash MX (I still use the pre-Adobe version).

A Note About 3D Models:
Every surface in a model is a “face”. The geometry, and any textures, must be calculated by your computer to view it. Those requirements can get staggering very quickly. Therefore it is standard practice to only “model what you see”. Most people make their components hollow with only one face being calculated. However, because I “stick built” this model, it contains a very large number of faces and geometry. This results in a complex model that can be difficult for some computers to to render.
In the real world, we perceive objects in 3D with stereoscopic vision. To achieve depth in a flat image the magic is in using shadows. However shadows require more intensive CPU cycles to calculate, so I've opted to not use them in my more complex models. You will see "shading", but not true shadows.
I've optimized everything as much as I could but it still may take longer to download than you would expect and may not view properly for you. If you open the 3D model, but experience performance trouble, try setting your view to Monochrome within the Hypercosm viewer (Menu: Graphics/Rendering/Monochrome).

The Video:
It begins by depicting the playhouse as a hand sketched design, proceeds to showing it being “built” by turning on sections of the model incrementally , takes you through a quick walk through, and ends with a zoomed out view of the completed model. The eye level of the walk through is from about 3' off the floor- a child's view.
I first exported it in .avi format, which resulted in a file size of approximately 26 megs. That's a tad big to be streaming on every page load so I opted to convert the .avi to .swf (Flash), which reduced the file to just under 3megs, and then embedded it on this page. There is some quality loss, but it's good enough for this purpose. Just right click on the video to select Play, etc.

I have put innumerable hours in this project. I have kept a focus on usability (child fun AND safety), cost, and ease of construction. Although I altered a few methods, the construction techniques I employ are well with-in standard practice and results in a solid and durable structure that I think would be as fun to build (with the kids) as it would be to play in. It is my hope to get a certified architect to review my design, and then perhaps create construction plans from the design and sell them on this site. That may invoke more liability than I wish to deal with, so we'll just have to see how it goes.
Hope You Enjoy!


Right click on image to select Play, etc.


All images on this site are property of ScottPod.com and may not be used by anyone else.

Home : Contact : Glossary : ezCandlesticks.com (Austin's Other Site)