What’s the storey?
From CAD User AEC Magazine Vol 20 No 05 - MAY/JUNE 2007
David Chadwick looks at some of the interesting new design and presentation concepts that Graphisoft has introduced in ArchiCAD Version 11
I always enjoy diving back into ArchiCAD, because the software invariably
comes up with something interesting and unexpected with each new iteration.
The thing that grabbed my attention the most in the latest Version, 11, was
the introduction of Home Story - a new way of classifying components within
a model. But more of that later.
Graphisoft, the Hungarian company that developed ArchiCAD, is a refreshing change
from other companies in that they plough their own furrow. Whilst the architectural
modelling software has all of the features that other BIM packages have, some
of the terminology for common functions are somewhat different. For Building
Information Modelling, therefore, read Virtual Building.
The company is pretty good at presenting their software. Use the URL at the
end of this article to go online and you will find a whole series of movie clips
that introduce newcomers to BIM or Virtual Building, how ArchiCAD works, and
the enhancements found in the latest version of the software. 2D designers will
find short clips that define the ArchiCAD design concept, what BIM is all about,
and how architects use the parametric capabilities of the software to develop
their design concepts in 3D.
Working with 3D in BIM explains how elements (walls, doors windows, slabs, etc.)
are used to develop a 3D model of a building, and how modification of the position
or dimensions of any of these ripples through the rest of the model. It also
explains how these changes can be effected from any model view - plans, sections,
or even schedules. This means that a door schedule, compiled automatically as
the model is developed, can be used to change the dimensions of doors throughout
the building and on the 3D model, by updating the information in the schedule.
Working in 3D does not constrain the architect from using 2D CAD at the same
time, and architects can use conventional 2D design tools to add poly-lines,
splines, curves, hatches and other annotation objects at any stage in the process
- with the benefit of access to the same parametric capabilities of 3D modelling.
By the same token, the 3D model can also be used to extract plans, elevations
and section details from the central model, all of which can be used to continue
the design process.
Graphisoft has even included a section on visualisation, showing how the various
rendering engines that ArchiCAD provides enable users to produce artistic or
realistic interpretation of their designs. There is a Sketch rendering engine
that can produce a freehand sketch of a design, or an integrated 'Lightworks'
engine that can produce photorealistic renderings and animated walkthroughs,
and can even include transparent and translucent surfaces, reflections and soft
The introduction then produces a short movie on how to create production drawings
from the 3D model. It’s worth looking at the demos even if you are not
(or don't even intend to be) an ArchiCAD user -and something that other software
developers should seriously consider for their own solutions.
ArchiCAD 11 Coordination
Graphisoft uses the phrase “Coordination, Control and Virtual Building
functionality” to define the enhancements in Version 11 of ArchiCAD, providing
improved capabilities in design, collaboration and drawing generation. Leading
us into the Coordination section is another industry first - Virtual Trace technology,
which enables users to coordinate views in a virtual building environment. Specifically
developed to help mainly 2D CAD users to adapt to a 3D working environment,
it works just like tracing paper. 2D drawings can be matched with a virtual
building model, and the architect can work on either 'live' view, retaining
full design control of the virtual model in either format.
Another useful tool is 'Visual Compare', which can be used to identify differences
between documents. Although 2D drawings are usually linked to the virtual building
model, in some cases there may be a need to develop 'unlinked' drawings. These
can be compared to the model drawings using Virtual Trace technology, with any
drawing acting as the reference model, and can be checked and amended - retaining
the validity of the virtual model. Both of these tools provide total 2D flexibility,
simplifying and easing the transition from 2D CAD to 3D modelling.
It also allows external drawings to be added to the model (DWGs and Xrefs from
consultant engineers for example) which can be imported, and placed in a new
feature - 'Worksheets' - and checked for comparison with the model using the
same Virtual Trace technology.
ArchiCAD 11 Control
Control covers the improvements to the quality and level of detail in documentation
sets, improving final layouts and adding some new colour fill tools. The most
important of these is the presentation of final layouts. ArchiCAD 11 enables
architects to align drawing elements beyond one layout - to multiple layouts.
As annotations are intelligently linked to the model, these can be edited and
lined up on each sheet.
Furthermore, the drawings on all sheets can be automatically lined up with each
other - the end result being a professionally prepared set of drawings.
ArchiCAD has always allowed users to intelligently cross-reference project views.
The latest version makes this much more flexible, using worksheet markers and
a dialogue box to link objects to any view, at any hierarchical level. Version
11 also gives architects the ability to use streamlined 2D editing tools on
unlinked model views to the fine details of the drawings using 2D editing tools.
Exploding the model view into 2D elements may show lines and fill to be segmented
or overlapping - reflecting how the original model elements were placed. These
can be cleaned up using consolidation tools - to be repaired, after selection
by the architect, with a click of the mouse.
ArchiCAD 11 Virtual Building
ArchiCAD (as we have seen in previous articles in CAD User) can be used to create
quite complex element geometry - curved walls, beams, columns, and so on. Version
11 gives architects even greater modelling freedom, enabling them to slant walls
(or beams) to any desired angle, assign a curved profile to the wall from a
library of pre-prepared curve sections, and align the wall along any curved
section - maintaining, of course, its parametric association with the model.
Interior Elevation, another new feature, creates unfolded interior model views
of even the most complex shaped room. With its auto-placement rules, Interior
Elevations of a room can be placed on a layout in an organised fashion with
a single drag & drop action - a dramatic productivity improvement for users.
ArchiCAD 11 has also improved the use of Pen and Colour configurations, saving
them with custom names and project views, providing easier modification of specific
pens used in the design.
If you are working on large, multi-storey projects, or repetitive design modules
such as hospitals and apartment buildings, ArchiCAD 11 has some useful features
here too, such as the ability to hot-link external ArchiCAD files into the master
project. And the software has streamlined PDF support with a native PDF engine
that can even handle construction fills with curved segments.
Some elements, such as walls, roofs, etc., extend beyond the story where they
are normally referenced - the elevation is displayed by the elevation of the
storey. (While ArchiCAD simplifies so many tasks a little added complication
- or at least irritation! - comes in Graphisoft’s use of “Story”
for what the rest of us refer to as “Storey”).
'Home Story' (see what I mean?) allows architects to tie the construction element
to a specific storey, regardless of the element's physical location.
A "Show On Story" option can be used to determine where to display
the construction element. 'Home Story' is used as a reference level to measure
the element in both 2D elevations and the 3D model. The 'Home Story' and' Show
on Story' are two separate options. Roofs, beams, slabs and meshes can also
be displayed as relevant storeys.
Apart from the way they spell 'storey', the latest version of ArchiCAD 11 provides
some fascinating new features. ArchiCAD is a powerful and multi-faceted alternative
to the more 'popular' BIM tools. You can get a feel of the capabilities of the
software by vising the website below.
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