Week #10 – Using ArchiCAD’s Structure: Guiding Principles
10-2. Work from the General to the Specific

ArchiCAD Training (Best Practices Lesson 10-2)

This 16 minute lesson examines how to use “placeholders” (generic, simple versions of walls, windows, doors etc.) during early design, later reworking them to be more specific at the appropriate time. This speeds up the process by reducing unnecessary and premature consideration of details that will be evaluated and chosen later. It also minimizes the possibility that a client will mistakenly believe that specific design choices have already been worked out.

The first approach is to draw simple walls on two or more different layers, for example one for exterior ones and another for interior partitions. Initially, these walls are drawn with a Background or Empty fill of an appropriate thickness, so that they appear on plan as two simple parallel lines without any inner details. Later, using the Find and Select command, one can quickly select all walls on one layer, and change them to the desired wall type or assembly.

A second approach involves creating and applying generically-named composites, for example “A” and “B”. These are initially set to a simple fill with an estimated thickness, and walls are drawn using these composite types. Later, each of these composites may be redefined as a complex wall assembly, and all walls drawn with that composite will instantly redraw with the new definition.

In a similar way, surface materials may be changed manually by selecting multiple walls and choosing a different material. Alternatively, one may change the definition of a generic material such as “Exterior Wall Default” or “Paint 11”, causing all elements drawn with those materials to update.

Windows and doors may be placed early in the design in their general location (either by eye or snapping to a specific distance or alignment) without worrying about the specific style or height. Later, perhaps in 3D or in the Elevation, one may select one or more windows and rework them.

While changing selected windows (for example) from one library part to another (e.g. from a casement to a fixed window) it may be useful to employ the parameter transfer technique: hold down the short-cut keys for the syringe tool (Command-Option on the Mac, or CTRL-ALT on PC) while clicking on the preview image of the chosen library part. This will maintain the size and other parameter values as the part switches.

Place other elements such as beams or columns carefully using whatever structural or geometric considerations are already determined (such as center to center spacing, alignment or number). However, be confident that you may adjust sizes and styles easily as the design progresses and more information is available.

TIP: To select similar elements on multiple stories at the same time, you may use the Find and Select command while viewing the model in 3D. That way you can select all the walls on the exterior or interior wall layer, or all doors of a certain size, and make a global change to all of them at once. (Use this powerful technique with care!)

Please post your comments and questions below.


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ArchiCAD Training: Work from the General to the Specific

Let us know how you feel... (3 comments so far)

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  1. FardinGhodoussi
    12 years ago

    where is link for video tuterial for material?


  2. Avatar photo
    13 years ago

    Thanks Eric really appreciate the ideas shown here. This situation comes up very frequently with clients. To be able to quickly change items like this without a ‘redraw’ is extremely helpful.