On Land

Environment Information
At Rill Architects we run Archicad on macOS. If you work at Rill, this is your stuff. If you don't, but you work in Archicad, you may find something interesting. Anybody else, I don't know.

Graphic overrides are a new feature of Archicad 20. They allow you to choose elements by criteria, and change their appearance attributes. The changes are grouped into combinations which can be saved with views.

Here's how to use Archicad: Build a model, and try to create all the documentation while doing the least amount of non-modeling. If you find yourself drawing something that you have already modeled, it must be because the thing can't be made to present itself in the appropriate way for your documentation. Archicad has always offered methods to help with this. A door can have a complex plan symbol, a simple symbol, or just an opening; it can have a schedule marker or not; or it can be hidden entirely. The same one door appears in 3D and in a schedule. One door, many appearances in documentation. This is unity.

Graphic overrides greatly expand the variety of ways that a single element can be presented. This means it is less likely that you will need to 'draw' an element you have modeled in order to get it to appear correctly in your documentation.

This feature gets at the heart of what Archicad is all about. It will definitely change a lot of working and documentation methods. If it doesn't, you are probably using Archicad wrong.

Since this is a major feature, it is impossible at this early stage to predict everything that will change. But I am getting a sense of what the categories of changes might be.


Here is a massing model showing existing conditions and a proposed addition. It is mostly done with renovation filters, with a couple of tweaks from graphic overrides.

existing-new massing model

Existing is overridden with one surface, the light color in the picture. If you are OK with existing elements not having fills in elevation, you can leave this override on. If you want the fills in elevation, you need to turn the surface override off, and switch it back and forth manually. This setting can't be saved with views or filters. We really need per-filter renovation overrides.

New is overridden with a different surface, the red in the picture. New elements are generally shown, not overridden. So the surface override can be left on. It is currently the only active override setting for New.

There is a new renovation filter, 07 Massing by Status. Existing=override, Demo=hide, New=override. Again, in all other filters, New is shown.

These are the graphic override rules:

Site Green finds 3D elements (in practice, they are meshes with the occasional slab) on the layer C Site3, and changes their uncut surfaces to 'Grass - Green'. Graphic overrides happen after renovation overrides, so while the site has existing status, it is not shown with the white color.

3D Lines Match finds All Types of elements, and changes their Line Pen to a medium gray pen. (It's our pen 137 in the picture, the default pen 2 would be fine too.)

Glass can't be overridden within windows and doors. (This would require attribute-level graphic overrides.) If you want clear openings of any sort, you have two options I can think of:

One way is to use 'Filter and Cut Elements in 3D' to hide the doors and windows. This will give completely empty openings.

The other is to use a graphic override rule similar to the site/grass rule, where doors and windows are chosen to be overridden by a clear surface. But, all parts of the doors and windows will be clear, not just the glass.

Beginning with Archicad 20, the fills division of Model View Options is obsolete and fills are handled by Graphic Overrides. This enables us to eliminate several combinations that were needed in Archicad 19.

Model View Options can be organized into combinations, kind of like layers, and MVO combinations can be saved with views. Naturally, this is all set up in the templates. MVOs are completely separate from On-screen View Options, which are screen-only and do not affect output.


Note: The favorites part of this is different in Archicad 20.

With the advent of renovation in Archicad 15, the transition from existing conditions to new construction is much simpler. We still want to finalize and set aside the existing conditions before moving on.


Updated for Archicad 20.

I encourage you to always use Publisher for all standard printing, PDF, and DWG output. All the pertinent info is stored in the Publisher sets, so you don't have to worry about it: Page setup, printer selection, DWG translation, whatever.

For any Publisher set, you can publish the whole thing or select items and publish only those.

Here are the essential parameters of the four main types of Publisher sets.


On, well, land. Site model roundup. Very lightly updated alongside the Mesh post.


With an assist from Brian Spears and Link Ellis, I figured out that one of my wishes for the mesh tool is already solved. So I thought I would take the opportunity to revise this overview of the tool.

The most prominent use for the mesh is site modeling. I cover that in more detail in another post, but you need the mesh basics first.


This is a very simple label for duct elements made with the MEP Modeler add-on. It's intended for use with any simple duct type, including Straight, Bend, Take-off, and the Obstruction Fittings (as far as I can tell). I'm using it solely for straight pieces, since no one is fabricating anything from my plans - I just want to coordinate with the HVAC engineer.

For round ducts, the label reads '5" dia'. For rectangular ducts, it reads 'Width x Depth'.

All our ducts are sized in inches, so I'm using a fractional inch format for the dimensions. On the off chance that someone else might find this label useful, I've added a parameter so you can choose to have the label's format match the current dimensions format in the project preferences.

It was convenient to use Select All for the (straight) Duct Tool, then label them all with the Label Selected Elements command (Document -> Document Extras).

Duct Labels


Until now we have done the electrical symbol legend as a hotlinked module of a story, where the lamp and object elements are placed in the floor plan within a table drawn with lines. This is a static resource, unless you break the module hotlink and modify it.

It is possible to create the legend using Interactive Schedule. The advantage of this is that it will only display the symbols that are actually in use. This makes a more compact, relevant, and readable table.

Electrical Symbol Schedule

The schedule itself is very simple. It only shows two columns. The first is the 2D symbol, which is a field/parameter of objects and lamps. The second is a custom parameter of our lighting and electrical objects - the parameter is 'desc' internally, and is called 'Type' in the settings. (A missing feature in most library parts is an ordinary name that can be easily listed and labeled. The object name usually doesn't work, and style options usually go by cryptic handles such as 'Style 1'.)

From here on I will say 'object' while I mean 'object or lamp'.

The schedule merges identical items into one. Remember that the IS only considers displayed information when deciding what is identical. So if the symbol and Type are the same, none of the other parameters matter - you will only get one entry. You have a surface fixture at 8'-0" and one at 9'-0"; they are the same to the schedule.

Simpler objects know what they are out of the box. Ceiling fan, duh. Some objects have options which change their identity. A recessed fixture can be ordinary, waterproof, a heat lamp, adjustable, etc. A smoke detector can be a CO detector, or a combination. The Type parameter should automatically respond to these details. The schedule will list separate items for each of these differences, because the Type field is different. The symbols will be appropriate for each difference.

The electrical switch object will always present itself as a pair of switches, one regular and one dimmer. This is so sets of two, three, four, etc. switches don't show up as separate items. GFCI switches are shown separately. (GDL folks: This is done by drawing a specific case of the symbol when the GLOB_CONTEXT is a schedule. In the future, but starting now, GLOB_CONTEXT is deprecated and you should use GLOB_VIEW_TYPE=9 (Calculation) instead. Since I'm still maintaining our AC18 Library, I can't implement this change yet.)

I had to replace the ceiling fan symbol so it would fit in the same cell height as the others.

Again, when you have your own library, you can do whatever you want.

Electrical Schedule Criteria

The criteria look more complicated than they are. It's just:

• Objects and Lamps

• On any electrical fixture layer

• But not on the Footings story, because that's where the old legend is placed

• And not part of a hotlinked module. Delete this criterion if the module is not covered by a separate project, and you want to schedule the module's fixtures.

Electrical Schedule Fields

The fields are only two, as described above. The 2D symbol and the Type:

The schedule is saved as a view in the Schedules folder, alongside the window and door schedules. It should be placed as a drawing on each electrical sheet.

Updated for Archicad 19.

Pen sets let you change the appearance of output at the very last moment - when the drawing, based on the view, is headed out the door. The colors you see while working on the model can be completely different from the published output, and they should be.