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.

This object is a tool for removing slope distortion from angled details such as rakes. A big improvement over this.


IFC is a format for exchanging models with data attached between different software. IFC elements are 3D construction elements and objects. IFC has nothing too with plans, annotation, or anything 2D.

The only consultant I have worked with is StructureCo, which is a pseudonym. The type of work is custom residential -- mostly wood members with some steel. This is our first try at this type of coordination.

My goals for the StructureCo collaboration:

• If I can get the beams labeled in the sections, and check that the structural elements fit, I can let them do the framing plans.

• Automatically label elements based on data provided within them, such as ID or profile.

• Let their layer names come through, with an extension.

• Bring in elements with proper classification.

• Avoid creation of attributes other than Complex Profiles.

• Let the consultant do the model 'their way' as much as possible. We try to be low-maintenance teammates.

In other words, let them do some of the work without sacrificing the consistency of our model and annotation process.


Adapted from my brief presentation at the DC Archicad User Group meeting earlier this month. If you want to look at the files, there is a download link at the end of the post.

Site Model

This is a simple scheme for using a single site model for multiple projects. It is applicable for everything from detached garages, to townhouse blocks, to proper campuses. The goals of this scheme are:

• Consistent 2D and 3D site data in each project, maintaining accurate story information.

• Visualization of the whole property in BIMx, while all buildings are easily kept up to date.

In our usage, the site is part of the main house's file. The site can be in a completely separate file using the same technique. The BIMx is published by the project file which contains the site. I will refer to the main house file and the small house file.


Alignment chart

I didn't want to talk this to death. What I like about alignment charts is they are assertive rather than argumentative. You have to just look at them and work out the relationships among the things, and ask yourself if your impressions of the things agree with the author's.

I made this by instinct. The strongest notion I had was that the morph tool is chaotic evil. The second strongest notion was that the mesh tool is a relic and needs to be done over. Then I was on my way.

Having meditated on it a bit, I think this is what the axes mean:

The lawful-chaotic axis runs from standard orderly content to custom content. The good-evil axis runs from user flexibility to user frustration. With that, I will proceed to talk it to death with some comments on each item.


Sheet A4-1
With the advent of graphic overrides, reflected ceiling plans are no longer a wilderness of tracing and weird hacks.

What shows:
• Walls
• Ceiling trim and finishes
• Ceiling fixtures including lights, fans, and mechanical fixtures
• Floor elements, including deck edges, stairs, counters

Using graphic override rules, floor elements are automatically shown dashed in RCP. And, ceiling elements, which are drawn dashed in the floor plan, are automatically shown solid. What a time to be alive.


Sheet A3-1
These are two detail-oriented drawing types that don't exactly go together, but they usually fit on one sheet. If there are too many assemblies or the schedules are very large, they can be separated.


This is the current state of element schedules. All projects will have schedules for windows, interior doors, and exterior doors. Many projects will have finish schedules, which are schedules of zones.

Let's quickly review the basics of interactive schedules. In the scheme settings, there are criteria, which determine what elements will be listed, and fields, which are the information to be shown about each element. Schemes can be imported and exported as XML files.

Then there is the schedule itself, where you control the column widths, header content, and text settings. It is pretty WYSIWYG with respect to output.

In addition to making schedule output, schedules can be used to inspect and edit model information. More on that later.



This started, as so many things do, with making a symbol fill for a tile pattern. A challenge of symbol fills is they need to tile (left and right meet, top and bottom meet, invisibly).

You can make new grid, running bond, and herringbone fill patterns by duplicating the extant ones and changing the dims. Anything more complex, you need to draw and work out the tiling.

That's just the fill pattern, which is vectorial, meaning you can use it in plan and surface fills in elevation. But you are on your own in 3D (OpenGL, BIMx). If you are delivering BIMx, you need to keep your textures in sync with your fills. Here is a simple way to do that.


All the common layouts (that we can think of) are blocked up in the project templates. These guidelines apply no matter when a layout is first needed.


These instructions are current as of Archicad 20.