Week #11 – Conceptual Design Strategies
11-3. Early Modeling Approaches: Massing, Pseudo-Detail, Profiles & Room Modules


ArchiCAD Training (Best Practices Lesson 11-3)

This 41 minute lesson demonstrates several different modeling approaches you can use early in the design process.

Simple massing models with no detail can be differentiated with colors to indicate changes in material, construction type or phasing. Sometimes it may be useful to add “pseudo-detail” – something that makes the model appear detailed, even though specific design decisions have not really been made. For example, a material texture such as bricks will make the model look more natural or realistic, which may be desireable in some cases.

The concept of progressive refinement of design can be applied to windows and doors. A very simple fixed window element without casing or sill may be placed to indicate an opening, with size differentiation but no specific operational type or style. In early design studies or presentations, some stylistic details may be added, such as a mullion or grill pattern, or structural choices such as casing or sill.

To change the geometry or operational type (for example, arched, sliding, etc.) often requires selecting a different library part. To avoid losing the information already set (such as the style or size), use Parameter Transfer within the library part settings window. Hold down the Syringe tool shortcut keys (Command-Option for Mac, CTRL-ALT on PC) before and during the click that changes to a different part. That way, all available parameter values will be transferred, and the “family resemblance” or style and size will be maintained as much as possible.

Kitchen layouts can be a very detail-oriented and time-consuming part of the design process. In the early stages, a simple polyline may be used to indicate the locations of counters, however this does not allow any 3D visualization or study. A simple slab can communicate basic cabinet volumes in a kitchen, and with a little extra work (e.g. a separate thin slab for the counter, and thin pieces using the beam tool to represent backsplashes or upstands) can be enhanced.

Complex profiles can be used in a creative way to represent cabinets quickly with a little more detail including a recessed kick underneath the body. The profile can be made of multiple different materials, so that a single element may appear to be more complex.

As a final demonstration, a pre-assembled group of kitchen fixtures and entourage elements is copied from a resource file – in this case, the QuickRooms from MasterTemplate’s Interactive Legends. After pasting in the elements, they are re-arranged to suit the design context. This can be a very rapid way of developing a conceptual design which can look quite detailed with minimum effort. Room configurations like this can easily be saved from any finished project into a resource file – perhaps a MOD module file, a standard PLN, or included (as in MasterTemplate) directly within a template.

Please post your comments and questions below.


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ArchiCAD Training: Early Modeling Approaches: Massing, Pseudo-Detail, Profiles & Room Modules

Let us know how you feel... (4 comments so far)

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  1. ChristineDandeneau
    12 years ago

    Eric – I’ve heard you discuss building a 3d “chipboard” style model for presentations. Is that discussed anywhere on this site? I am curious. I often find that sometimes in schematics I may be presenting too much detail and need to hide some of it. Thinking aloud – I guess I just need to learn how to save copies of mapped materials and revert them to simple colors every now and then


  2. John Dunham
    12 years ago

    Great lesson! Lots of good ideas…Now if only I can find the time to implement them! 🙂

  3. Chris Ellis
    12 years ago

    Thanks Eric,

    Another interesting and thought provoking lesson.

    Would it be a good idea to use module files for creating “precooked” room configurations for mocking up design ideas? I’m a little fuzzy on how best to use a module file and then be able to edit it in place versus changing the module file itself.

    Good to see you back and continuing the course lessons. I’ll be signing up for your coaching call program. We’ve all got to keep you solvent so you can continue your great work !

    Chris Ellis, Cape Cod Massachusetts USA

    • Avatar photo
      12 years ago

      I agree in that I’m not sure WHERE to best store room configurations that we like, or combinations of elements that we’d like to reuse. You (Eric) mentioned saving such things in a PLN file, located in some logical file for future use. I agree in concept, but I’m not clear on where the best place is to put such things. Separate PLN files, modules, and interactive schedules are all sort of floating around in my brain.
      I REALLY like the idea of quickly mocking up kitchens using complex profiles, however. That struck me as a very good use of that tool.