In Archicad you build a comprehensive 3D model from which you get the majority of your documentation.
For example, sections are cut through the model and with minimal additional 2D annotation, you will be able to get a sectional drawing from anywhere in your model whereas the traditional workflow was to draw a 2D drawing from scratch.
What this means is that a good amount of work & time needs to be put into the model before you will be able to get an acceptable section or elevation from it.
So although the amount of effort needed at the start is much greater than that required from traditional 2D drawing, once modeled you have greater access to sectional information that is live updated as your plan develops. Archicad’s Teamwork function also allows for a team of people to work on the model at the same time.
This is managed by individual team members reserving elements that they want to work on. Between team members you can request elements, request elements to be reviewed by someone or simply send each other messages.
Building the 3D model is part of the trend to use BIM (Building Information Modelling), where the idea is to build a model and embed relevant information into each modelled element that can ultimately be utilised by the whole design team across multiple disciplines.
Currently, for the architect or draftsman using Archicad, this means you will be able to label elements with a few clicks instead of adding call-outs with manual text entry, schedule apartment specifics such as whether they comply with solar access, etc. The intended all encompassing model, where consultants & architects models come together and the builder can immediately derive, say, quantities of brick he needs to order, is still far from being commonly utilised except in the biggest multidisciplinary organisations or projects.
So, for the moment, how much detail goes into the model is best tested against what you need to get out of it. A design stage model can be very simple as you don’t need to be specific about something like wall types and build-up. Although you can future proof it to enable a swift transition into documentation stage by adding that detail and getting Archicad to show the detailed model in a less-detailed way. You can also go overboard on detail and, for example, model 1:1 instead of 1:20 and then adding actual details as 2D drawings. You’ll be limited by time, budget and computing power as to how much detail you’ll end up modelling.
Archicad as a CAD tool has been developing for more than 30 years. This link to Archicad Versions displays an overview across all the versions with a list of new features per version.
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