ArchiCAD Insights: Graphisoft's Ductwork Can Model 2D Systems Data in the Virtual Building

14 Mar, 2005 By: John Mamuscia Cadalyst

View how systems may affect the overall design and whether systems will fit where planned

Architects and designers that receive simple 2D data from MEP consultants can use Graphisoft's Ductwork to model that data in their Virtual Building. This is important so the architect can see how the systems may affect the overall design. This is also important so the builder can see if systems will or will not fit where planned. By virtual modeling with accurate sizes and locations, Graphisoft tools replicate the real project, improving coordination through all phases of the building process.

Figure 1. Displaying ductwork in the Virtual Building.

Extend the Virtual Building
Modelers can use the Ductworks routing add-on to ArchiCAD and Constructor to create the outline and hatching of a duct in 2D and a solid duct body in 3D. Ductwork will recognize any change you make in direction or level and automatically size and place the bend of the respective duct section. Tees and shoes objects can be manually sized and placed and all connections are made automatically. Grilles in the model can connect with user-defined methods. These automatic connections allow for quick modeling of building systems.

Figure 2. Ductwork displayed in 2D.

When placed, Ductwork elements connect to form part of a larger system. Ductwork can automatically connect the elements: Simply select them and use the Auto-connect command. The Auto-connect feature works with both simple two-duct systems and more complex arrangements that may involve grilles, tees, flexible ductwork and so forth. Using this feature makes it easy to develop extensive duct networks.

Penetrations can also be automatically created for all ductwork systems where ductwork passes through internal and external walls and slabs. Users can define the clearances and tolerances required on each side of the ducts as well as minimum distances between penetrations that determine when adjacent penetrations are combined. As the building model is developed, these penetrations are updated to take account of changes in the project.

Extensive Object Library
By customizing the ductwork's appearance to create cutting-edge designs for their clients, modelers need an extensive library of objects. Ductwork includes a GDL object library containing more than 300 MEP 3D objects and 2D symbols.

These can be added to the Virtual Building model created using the Ducting tool to develop detailed designs for building services. Each GDL object has an easy-to-use interface to make creating the model as flexible and productive as possible.

Figure 3. Add objects from Ductwork's GDL object library to create detailed designs for building services.

Interference Detection
The intent of a building systems design is to create a building that will run efficiently. Coordination of building systems information to downstream processes is something that is now happening. The ArchiCAD Virtual Building, including Ductwork, shows visual interferences. Using an application such as NavisWorks,, in addition to ArchiCAD or Constructor, it can automatically find these interferences. Kajima UK, for example, saved hundreds of thousands of pounds by solving coordination errors before they built. Identifying those conflicts before construction documentation is the key to being able to erect the systems during construction accurately.

Figure 4. Interferences automatically identified.

Figure 5. 3D building section with Ducting

The Virtual Building model facilitates clear views of the building itself as well as construction documentation so architects can work alongside contractors during the build process. Architects and designers who receive simple 2D data from their MEP consultants can use Ductwork to model that data in their projects to effectively coordinate the systems and visualize the model. They can use the Virtual Building model to provide contractors with a different perspective of the building information, eliminating confusion from traditional documentation. These benefits will continue to increase in importance as architects and design-build professionals strive for greater responsibility and impact in the complete building process.

About the Author: John Mamuscia

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