ArchiCAD Insights: Virtual Building and Freeform Design

15 Sep, 2005 By: Kurt Ameringer Cadalyst

ArchiCAD and MaxonForm work together to combine virtual BIM technology with a freeform modeler

Throughout history, architects have designed buildings in all shapes and sizes, reflecting the trends of the time. One of the most current and visible architectural trends reflects designs of unique and complex forms because today's architects are clearly stretching design possibilities with the advantage of new tools, materials and construction processes. Whether simple or complex, today nearly all new architectural design projects aspire to contain more than just rectangular forms.

ArchiCAD and the Freeform Model
To support this trend in architectural design, Graphisoft and Maxon have partnered to create a freeform modeling solution for ArchiCAD called MaxonForm. Based on CINEMA 4D, MaxonForm and ArchiCAD work together to combine Virtual Building modeling (BIM) technology with a freeform modeler (MaxonForm). Because of the direct communication developed between ArchiCAD and MaxonForm, the need for saving/exchanging files is eliminated.

Architects can create or edit any organic shape, object or structure in their model: one click to create an organic object and one click to modify any object with organic editing tools. You can easily repeat these roundtrips at any time.

Objects created in MaxonForm are transferred to ArchiCAD as GDL objects with parametric material definitions, so you can also set textures and materials at any time in ArchiCAD. Essentially, for ArchiCAD users, your workflow does not need to change:

1. Begin working in ArchiCAD (figure 1).

Figure 1. Open your ArchiCAD model.

2. Transfer model to MaxonForm to edit selected elements (figure 2).

Figure 2. The model in MaxonForm.

3. Use MaxonForm modeling tools to twist, deform and sculpt the exact shape and surface flow as your design instincts require.

4. One click sends it back to ArchiCAD.

5. The object is placed in ArchiCAD and represents all the element modifications you intended, secured within the Virtual Building.

6. Continue modeling in ArchiCAD -- and if you wish to edit again, simply transfer back to MaxonForm.

7. Once the design is developed, you can use any of the tools of ArchiCAD to extract information from the elements created. Annotation is as easy as you would expect and the organic building elements are in the Virtual Building environment.

Integrating the Virtual Building and Freeform Design
MaxonForm used with ArchiCAD allows architects to push the boundaries of conventional design while also delivering the benefits of Virtual Building modeling. Until now, to design and document an organic building or structure, the workflow has been exceedingly complicated, largely because of the inability to manage change. But now the organic modeler is integrated into a BIM system, so you can work intuitively, creating an ideal workflow and eliminating the need to save and manage files separately.

About the Author: Kurt Ameringer

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