Week #12 – Site Survey and Topography Modeling
12-5. Advanced Site Creation: Working with Roads, Paths and Paved Areas

ArchiCAD Training (Best Practices Lesson 12-5)

This 42 minute lesson goes further into site development, focusing on various methods of working with roads, paths and paved areas.

One quick method provides a contrasting color or material appearance using a Slab to delineate the area and Solid Element Operations to make the Slab surface match the original Mesh. This may be used for color-coding the 3D image to indicate various things, including roads, paths, paved areas, but also landscaping and phasing.

The basic process is simple:

1) Draw a slab to define the boundary of the road, path, or paved area. Make sure its top elevation extends far enough to go above the terrain mesh; it’s bottom may go below the terrain mesh as a whole, or to any desired depth. The slab boundary may be entered manually, or magic-wanded from pre-drawn lines or splines.

2) Open up the Solid Element Operations palette (Design menu > Solid Element Operations in ArchiCAD 10 – 14; Design Menu > Connect > Solid Element Operations in ArchiCAD 15).

3) Select the slab, designate it as the Target; select the mesh, make it the Operator, execute an SEO Intersection.

4) Select the mesh and make it the Target; select the slab and make it the Operator, execute an SEO Subtraction.

The main limitation of this approach is that the colored area will always follow the primary mesh geometry, since it is based on solid element operations related to that mesh. In addition, in a section, it will be clear that the contrasting section extends uniformly down to the base of the slab element, rather than being stepped or having a uniform thickness.

To make a sloped path have a series of stepped bases, one can break up the slab that defines the path boundary into multiple pieces, each with their own base height.

To make the sloped path have a uniform thickness (ideal for laying brick pavers with sand and gravel underlay), one can create a second copy of the main terrain mesh, lower it to the appropriate depth, and use it for an SEO subtraction from the path slab. The SEO operations need to be done in a specific order for this to work properly: subtract this lowered mesh from the slab first, then do the standard intersection and subtraction as above. Place this extra lowered mesh on a separate layer that is normally hidden except when working on the terrain model.

A second option is to create an additional Mesh that gives each area an independent geometry. This can be more realistic and flexible, and allows you to model more accurately the actual construction or ensure proper drainage. Separate meshes can be time-consuming to create and manage, however I show two versions of a technique that you can use to quickly take a single mesh and divide it into multiple independent pieces.

A rather different approach is to use a Complex Profile to represent the road along with the boundary pavement. This is primarily useful in simpler models and is appropriate for contexts in which the road maintains a constant cross-section.

As an alternative to these methods, Cigraph creates an add-on called ArchiTerra that is now part of it’s ArchiSuite set of products. This tool is not demonstrated but may be considered for somewhat more complex road modeling and other site modeling tasks.

Please post your comments and questions below.


Thank you for visiting the Best Practices Course website. The video lessons are available for members only. If you are an active member and would like to watch the ArchiCAD training video on this page, please login to the website. If you are not currently a member, please visit the following pages for more information and to sign up for the Best Practices Course, the QuickStart Course or for the Best Practices ArchiCAD Coaching Program. Eric Bobrow, Creator of the Best Practices Course
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ArchiCAD Training: Advanced Site Creation: Working with Roads, Paths and Paved Areas

Let us know how you feel... (6 comments so far)

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  1. Carlos Castillo
    12 years ago


    Acabo de inscribirme y después de activar el login quiero descargar la lección 12 porque me interesa adelantar el tema 5. Sin embargo, no hay un video para descargar.

    ¿Es posible descargar cualquier lección o debe ser en orden?

    • Eric Bobrow
      12 years ago

      Carlos –

      Welcome to the QuickStart Course and the Best Practices website community!

      You purchased the QuickStart Course, and now have access to the lessons in the QuickStart Course – 7 modules, a total of 29 separate lessons and 13 hours of video training. You’ll find all of these in the member area under the QuickStart Course menu.

      In order to access lessons from the Best Practices Course itself (such as this one), you will need to sign up for the full Best Practices Course. I have sent you an email with information about pricing and a link you can use to purchase the upgrade.


      Traducción aproximada EL USO DEL SITIO WEB DE GOOGLE TRANSLATE

      Carlos –

      Bienvenidos al curso de inicio rápido y la mejor comunidad de prácticas en su página web

      Usted compró el Curso de inicio rápido, y ahora tienen acceso a las lecciones en el Curso de inicio rápido – 7 módulos, un total de 29 lecciones individuales y 13 horas de entrenamiento en video. Usted encontrará todo esto en el área de miembros en el menú de inicio rápido del curso.

      Para acceder a las lecciones del Curso de Prácticas de mejor en sí mismo (como éste), tendrá que inscribirse en el Curso de Prácticas de Mejor completa. Yo te he enviado un correo electrónico con información sobre los precios y un enlace que puede utilizar para comprar la actualización.


  2. HagithPopper
    12 years ago

    Hi Eric,
    Great lesson, as always it is all full of valuable knowledge for gracefully using AC tools. You have the ability of adding so much time-saving information which relates not only to the specific subject of the current video.
    Only, lately it so seems that a great deal of it is not working as such in my (12th) AC version. Especially so when concerning layers. I wonder whether I’m missing anything specific.

    • Eric Bobrow
      12 years ago

      Hagit –
      Thank you for your kind words about the lesson.
      You mention that certain things are not working properly in your version of ArchiCAD. In order to help you, please be more specific about what happens and what you’re trying to do.

  3. Avatar photo
    12 years ago

    Great video topic as usual.

    Wouldn’t it be good to have a mesh option that gave a constant thickness of mesh, instead of a constant base line. Maybe Graphisoft will add that one day.

    Tim Ball

    • Eric Bobrow
      12 years ago

      Tim –
      Yes, I agree, ‘twould be nice!