The move to BIM with ArchiCAD 12
Published 23 August 2008
|Written by Martyn Day|
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Recent market conditions have coalesced to drive a massive take-up of Building Information Modelling (BIM) tools. Martyn Day looks at the benefits of this fast-growing technology.
Looking at the sales of architectural design tools, itİs clear to see that the design market has started a mass migration from 2D draughting to 3D modelling, from merely documenting designs to building complete Virtual Buildings. While the technology has been around for many years, new market dynamics and maturation of solutions has created a technology tipping point, where a process called Building Information Modelling (BIM) is assisting practices to seek new methods to improve efficiency, reduce errors and increase profits. Recent events such as the downturn in some world economies and move towards Ùgreen buildingsİ, are also driving a rethink of the design process, with a model-centric approach providing new possibilities and business models.
These market conditions are further bolstered by many innovative practices, which have already tried and tested these new systems and processes. And modelling-savvy graduates leaving universities and entering practices are promoting model-based design strategies. This migratory trend towards BIM was highlighted in a recent market survey by McGraw Hill published at the start of the year where an amazing 50% of the firms that responded said they were going to have a BIM process in place and implemented by the end of 2008. BIM relies on the fact that a central Virtual Building is created of the design, from this schedules, quantities, plans, sections, elevations, details and general assembly drawings are all automatically derived. Should an edit be made, then all the corresponding sheets can be updated in a co-ordinated manner. There are additional benefits, in that the model can be used to produce interior and exterior rendered images and walkthroughs, as well as serving as the base geometry to perform thermal, lighting, solar, and carbon footprint analysis for building compliancy testing.
Based in Budapest, Hungary, Graphisoft was established in 1982 and proved itself to be an innovative Apple Macintosh-based CAD development company. It offered the first combined 2D and 3D CAD product for personal computers. ArchiCAD is the companyİs BIM solution for the building industry, and over the years has grown to have a user base of over 100,000 architects on both Apple Macintosh and Windows platforms. Now in its 12th release, ArchiCAD is the most mature BIM solution for architects, having trail blazed the Virtual Building approach to design years before any of the other vendors. With a commitment to Mac and PC, ArchiCAD is also the only BIM solution to run on both platforms. With the resurgence in popularity of Apple, this puts Graphisoft at the top of the list for any Mac-based architect.
The basic principle of ArchiCAD is the Virtual Model. Working live in 3D, the architect constructs designs using parametric, intelligent walls, doors and windows, together with other common elements like slabs and curtain walls. This can be done at any stage of the design process. These intelligent objects contain different display behaviour, depending on what view and document of scale the architect changes to. You can change your view and make edits and all the views will update.
To get the 2D drawings out of the system, all plans, sections, details and elevations are extracted from the 3D central model, or Virtual Building. Changes made to the model will be carried out through all documents. You can add traditional 2D elements to the drawings too, like polylines and splines, hatches, dimensions and annotations. These layouts can be printed, plotted or uploaded to the web. For file output, ArchiCAD supports DWG (AutoCAD), DGN (MicroStation), DWF (Autodesk Web Format) and PDF (Adobe Acrobat). But BIM is not just about documentation. By adding these smart parametric objects and zoning areas, additional information is being added to the model which can be extracted at any time in the process. Schedules and quantity take-offs almost become a bi-product of the design process. Thereİs additional flexibility in that these lists can be customised, and again if the model changes, these schedules and quantities update.
Having designed a complete 3D model, itİs also possible to use the built-in rendering tools to generate photo-realistic or artistic images to sell design ideas. Using the Lightworks ray-tracing engine, ArchiCAD can produce some stunning renditions, incorporating transparent and translucent materials, with reflections and soft shadows.
With buildings being specifically identified as major pollution sources and energy wasters, there are a growing number of standards that either require compliance or are being built into client tenders. Traditionally, architects have had to rely on experts from outside to get feedback on the performance of their designs. Virtual Building systems like ArchiCAD, which contain all the necessary information; volumes, materials, gazing areas and geographic location can enable any practice to utilise one of any number of popular analysis packages to evaluate a designİs Green Building compliance and optimise the design. Graphisoftİs commitment to XML and Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) provides an open framework to transfer intelligent model data to these systems.
New in ArchiCAD 12
The latest release of ArchiCAD 12 has a number of very powerful enhancements that are immediately obvious from initial boot up. Version 12 sees work in the three key areas of Speed, Design and Documentation. The first and for me the most fundamental improvement to ArchiCAD comes in its speed enhancement. For the first time ArchiCAD makes use of multi-core processors, which are now standard in all new machines. Most Intel processors have two cores and multi-processor machines can have eight cores or more. In fact, in the future Intel say that we can expect machines with hundred of parallel processors.
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