SAOTA on Working Globally: How Revit improves decision-making in global contexts

SAOTA is focused on using the most current computer technology in its design process, both to understand the design and to communicate the design to clients. To this end, they are world leaders in the use of Revit and have also developed virtual reality tools.

SAOTA is led by Stefan Antoni, Philip Olmesdahl, Greg Truen, Philippe Fouché, Mark Bullivant, Roxanne Kaye and Logen Gordon, and has designed luxury residential and commercial projects on six continents. The studio has a clear understanding of the place of design in the world and how to deliver architectural projects in diverse markets.

The practice cites spirit of enquiry and close examination of function and form as hallmarks of its work, as well as the use of the most current technology, including virtual reality, in its design processes.

Jardin Hotel - Rendered with Lumion

SAOTA shares some insights into software solutions and the associated benefits:

What software solutions does SAOTA currently use?

Digital technology and world-class software solutions are essential for continued collaboration among peers and clients. We use the Autodesk Architecture, Engineering & Construction Collection, Autodesk BIM 360, Autodesk BIM Collaborate Pro, Autodesk Revit, Lumion, Lumion LiveSync and Enscape.

Describe the primary opportunities for improvement that were discovered during your use of Revit.

One of the largest benefits experienced with the use of Autodesk Revit is our ability to fully engage with the design from day one. AutoCAD 2D plans, sections, and elevations never told the full story, and when we built 3DS Max models from these drawings, only certain spaces would be fully developed for rendering purposes.

This shortfall meant that every aspect of the design was not interrogated like we now do with Revit. Revit allows us to be in every space, experience it from every vantage point. This in-depth understanding of our designs has allowed us to continuously improved and hone our skills.

Revit has been a fantastic tool for us to understand 3D spaces, volumes, and proportions, the only missing element has been our ability to understand materiality.

While Revit has a built-in renderer, we just didn’t seem to get the level of realism we needed quickly and easily. 3DS Max offers extreme realism but it’s complex, time consuming and not the right tool for mass use throughout the studio. This void has been filled by Lumion. Lumion’s ease of use and integration with Revit means our design studio can use it as a tool to engage with the design both from a 3D model and materiality point of view.

Cave Tower Mývatn Iceland - Revit vs. Rendered

With respect to conceptual design, do you use Lumion to gain an early understanding of the design? How do you achieve this? 

Lumion is used throughout our different work-stages and process (IDC – FDD) by exporting DAE models through LiveSync. 

We use Lumion and Revit for various tasks in our studio; one being client visualizations. Lumion allows us to set up several camera angles and Lumion video clips to establish a showcase of the design best suited for the client. The Principals are involved in the design process from start to finish.

The teams have internal discussions utilising draft renders with the team’s Principal to discuss changes and improvements before final renders are presented to the clients.

We then share the Lumion Viewer with select clients as it allows them to walk around and explore the project from all angles, providing them with a photorealistic experience. An alternate option to showcase designs to clients is through the use of MyLumion 360 Panoramic views.

How do you integrate the Revit Topography into the Lumion terrain? Do you create the topography in Revit large enough to make use of the 3D Grass effect?

It depends on the project as we have different strategies for different project sizes. We try to blend Revit and Lumion where applicable, or we use something like CADmapper to create the contextual topo in Revit, which is easily integrated with the building site since it’s all done in one software. We use 3D grass when terrain is in the foreground of cameras. It speeds up render time when there isn’t 3d grass on all the grassed areas.

Contemporary Portuguese Villa outside Lisbon Portugal - Revit vs. Rendered

Do you use Revit to write models out to 3D DWG files so that you can manipulate families in Lumion, or are you happy to place content in Revit and then add any additional objects in Lumion?

We prefer to keep our workflows lean by keeping the software and steps to a minimum and using Revit as our key data entry point as far as possible. There are instances where we do adapt.

What other key Lumion features do you use?

We use Lumion Pro to collaborate on designs (merge models). Each project is different and often multiple design options are required. Lumion Pro allows us to do various exports from Revit, which are then combined in Lumion, or variations rendered using the “Layer Visibility” effect.

We also use panoramic images to act as a backdrop for our models. We have a cylinder model that is imported, if needed, into the Lumion file. It is then textured with the relevant panoramic images and rotated so it’s in the correct position.

Another helpful tool is Open Street Map for importing height maps into our models. It’s especially helpful in the built-up areas of the world. It can also indicate where distant planting should appear in the views.

We also find that the link between Revit and Lumion speed up any changes made in Revit in our Lumion model. We also make use of Material Sets. This helps speed up the material assignments when brining in a Revit project each time. It saves hours’ worth of work. It can also be used when design options are needed, or a number of exports are used for a project.

Miska - Rendered with Lumion


Biggest Revit Achievement – Finding a way to use our Revit models to transcend all the challenges associated with working on international projects (construction and language barriers).

Biggest Lumion Achievement – Refining our Lumion skills and workflows to the point where our best in-house Lumion Renders are very close to quality 3DS Max renders produced by external consultants.


MGFX has worked closely with our team. The closer we’re able to work together, the better the service we’re afforded. Micrographics has become an integral part of our operations and we are grateful for the continuous assistance we are offered by the team, and for the rapid response to our many queries.

If you are seeking these kinds of results and feel that your business can benefit from building a strong relationship with Micrographics, contact us today and let us take your business into the future.