Freedom to Design with Archicad Version 10

Welcome to AECWeekly! In viewing the latest release of Archicad, Version 10, it's clear that architectural software has evolved to a point where ideas and vision can flow more freely. Archicad is not the only object based architectural software out there, but the features in this new release bring it closer to something that works the way architects think, or want to think. Read about it in this week's Industry News.

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Industry News
Freedom to Design with Archicad Version 10
by Susan Smith

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In viewing the latest release of Archicad, Version 10, it's clear that architectural software has evolved to a point where ideas and vision can flow more freely. Archicad is not the only object based architectural software out there, but the features in this new release bring it closer to something that works the way architects think, or want to think.

In a briefing and demo provided by Don Heinrich, vice president and Kurt Ameringer, Archicad Manager, North America, I learned how the creation of the Virtual Building model using Archicad helps architects achieve greater design freedom and significant ROI.

As background, over a million buildings have been created in the Virtual Building environment since Graphisoft developed it. The software is used in 85 countries, 14 languages and 23 different localized versions.

In general, what “object-based” means in referring to Archicad and the other Graphisoft products, is that the different objects have intelligent behavior that generates automatically all the information that a design team would need. Archicad also synchronizes that information in the form of automated updates. Textual data that can be associated, such as a zone for a room, the volume of the room that comes from four walls, ceiling and floor but is not an object.

“We wanted the design team to be able to spend more time on the design but save time at the same time,” explained Heinrich. Part of that productivity increase involves having more time to evaluate alternatives. “If you decide to curve a wall, slant it or change a curtain wall or window set, that automatically ripples throughout the entire design.”

Not only can Archicad decrease the overall time spent on a project, allowing firm to do more projects, but it can render them more effective in the design phase so they can spend more time in the documentation phase. The average productivity gain achieved by using the Virtual Building workflow is 38.9 percent.

Richard Crowe, GRC Architects, USA, reported that the firm has tripled their revenues and not increased their head count since using the Virtual Building solution.

Key points for version 10 are :

- freedom to design
- improved workflow
- improved user interaction

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Freedom is translated into the ability to create such objects as curved walls, slanted walls, unique shapes, crazy volumes. “You can draw anything, and the system creates documentation automatically,” claimed Heinrich. Before now, The ability to create challenging walls or beams at any angle has been reserved for very specific custom software before now. Other examples of freedom in design include the ability to create 3D zones and spaces to fit complex geometry, automatic creation of correct openings representation in all wall shapes, custom cross-section profiles for walls, beams and columns and the controlled display of multi-story elements. This type of fluidity in design will be useful in the design of Frank Lloyd Wright type designs and historic designs that don't fit the horizontal/vertical type mold.

Improved workflow translates into allowing the drawing set to be generated inside the modeling environment. This is a change from version 9, as in version 10, all the drawing sets are in the modeling environment and are always being updated in the modeling environment.

Interaction demonstrates an update to accommodate new hardware needs of users and the resultant new perspective. For example, 20 years ago when the first design of the Archicad system was built, there weren't a lot of capabilities for computers such as cell phone, PDAs and video games, as there are today. Email on cell phones, PDAs or Blackberries is commonplace now, so Graphisoft has aligned their technology with these technologies so that it is more intuitive to new users. “Initially when we built walkthroughs for buildings, we did it with cameras and created a viewing path for the system to walk you through a building,” Heinrich explained. 3D game-like navigation lets you explore the environment with more control.

Pre-selection feedback offers info tags that indicate relevant parameters, and automatic guidelines anticipate user intentions.

Another example of interaction is the ability of intelligent objects to understand how to represent themselves in wall shapes. There is also the ability to freely take a cross section out of the standard library, modify it on-the-fly and apply it to an entire wall or section of the building.

Improvements made in workflow include enhancements in smart drawing management, i.e., the ability to take PDFs from other sources and lock them into Archicad as drawings to reference for the project. You can also drag and drop to move navigator items and create views and merge layouts.

There is also the ability to use linear and gradient fills and other areas of graphics in Archicad. Many people want to take CAD drawings into Photoshop to use for presentation and now they can do their Photoshop right inside of Archicad. You can also apply materials so a building always looks real.

Graphisoft has also created an interactive training guide for Archicad version 10 which is a free download from the website. It is a self-running movie that runs inside the Archicad environment while you are creating a model in Archicad.


Sage Software, a subsidiary of The Sage Group plc, announced that it has agreed to acquire the Master Builder product and business from Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ: INTU) . The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and expected to be completed within 30 days. The company also announced that it has acquired Contractor Anywhere Inc., developer of accounting, service, and project management software for building and service contractors. The acquired products will complement Sage Software's award-winning Sage Timberline Office, which provides accounting, estimating, and operations management software for the construction and real estate industries.


Bentley Systems, Incorporated announced that registration is now open for BE Conference Europe 2006 , being held 11-15 June at the Hilton Prague, Czech Republic. This new once-a-year learning opportunity for the European infrastructure community is modeled after the highly successful BE Conference held in the United States.

Also announced was the fact that Lord Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London Organizing Committee for the 2012 Olympics and one of Britain's greatest athletes, will be a keynote speaker at BE Conference Europe. The conference takes place 11-15 June 2006 in Prague, Czech Republic.

Sun Microsystems, Inc., the creator and leading advocate of Java(TM) technology, announced that industry-leading Sun Fire(TM) T1000 and T2000 servers running open source UltraSPARC T1 processors and the Solaris(TM) 10 Operating System (OS) -- the most advanced operating system on the planet -- set world-records for performance and blew away competitive systems from Dell/Microsoft and IBM/AIX in recent SPEC Java Business benchmark (SPECjbb2005) testing. Sun also extended its lead in performance per watt and SWaP ratings, further demonstrating CoolThreads(TM) systems as the most efficient platform ever for delivery of web and application services.

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Review Article
  • October 09, 2008
    Reviewed by 'Paul Teicholz'

    This is an excellent short review of the latest version of ArchiCAD for architectural design, but it does not mention how this product supports integrates the design with other design functions (both within and outside the Graphisoft domain) and with downstream functions including construction and FM. Collaboration and integration are key issues in allowing design software to support enhanced workflow and better design as alternatives can be evaluated from many perspectives earlier in the design.

      Was this review helpful to you?   (Report this review as inappropriate)

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