Why is it important to accurately model the land features of your project site with a toposurface?
By accurately modeling the land features of our project site, we can be wary of key features to be wary of and to take advantage of. For example, knowing the direction of a slope can allow us to consider the hydrology and movement of water, dirt particles, etc as it relates to our project. Knowing the placement of large features like hills or cliff drop offs allow us to make smart choices that enhance both the short term/long term safety of our project but also one that enhances the experience through accurate sun studies and wind studies and the like. Lastly, knowing the steepness of slopes and other similar features can help us in strategically placing and designing our project such that construction is easier, safer, and ultimately cheaper.
When designing a project...
I am of the opinion that buildings should adapt to the terrain as much as possible. For the sake of the long term sustainability of the land and the project, and simply for the sake of sense of place and aesthetic qualities, ensuring projects are responsive to the opportunities and challenges presented by a site's unique topography is of practical and symbolic importance. If buildings adapt to the terrain, then they can take advantage of all the benefits mentioned in the above points. Of course, some adaption of the terrain is possible and sometimes warranted, however I believe we as people take things too far when we do things such as trying to build suburban communities in deserts, or massive houses on a crumbling cliff.
Describe a case when it would be worthwhile to create a new custom component in Revit… How do you decide when customize versus using readily available components?
These models are used to communicate. As such, it is worthwhile to create custom components in Revit if it means more authentically and more accurately communicating a feel, a form, an idea to the various stakeholders that need to be communicated to. This is especially true of a client, even more so for a very picky client, for whom approximate representations are not enough and for whom you would want to as accurately communicate the plans and the vision. Of course, if the building design is being communicated to someone who does not need that level of detail, then perhaps a custom component is not exactly needed to communicate that "here is a kitchen counter". It is all about who we are communicating to and what information they need to their part in the realization of a project.