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User avatar
By Thomas Holm
I'm confused, not being used to the terminology of Architerra. I have a 2D dwg contour map that I have imported into an Archicad .pln file.

What is the fastest/simplest way of transforming it into an Architerra terrain model?

The Architerra manual explains each tool, but I find it not very explicit on appropriate work flows under different circumstances. I installed Architerra version 2.01 yesterday in Archicad 8.1v2.
User avatar
By Fabrizio Diodati
Dear Thomas,

unfortunately ArchiTerra doesn't read DWG and, unfortunately when ArchiCAD reads 3D polylines from a DWG all the 3D info – the levels – get lost (if they are present).
The best solution should be to ask for a DXF file that ArchiTerra can import preserving all the data (also the levels in this case).
Then you simply have to define the perimeter/outline of your terrain (using the proper ArchiTerra tool), select this outline and click on the Terrain tool… and your terrain is ready!

If you cannot get the DXF file you can do the following:

1. import the DWG file (as you did)
2. select one polyline (or all the polylines which share the same level)
3. click on the ArchiTerra contour line tool
4. ArchiTerra asks for the contour line level (type it in the edit field)
5. click on the OK button to confirm the level and ArchiTerra will convert the 2D polyline into an ArchiTerra contour line
6. Repeat the same procedure with all the polylines in your drawing
7. Define the terrain perimeter (using the ArchiTerra Outline tool)
8. Select the outline an build the terrain.

Depending on the terrain morphology you can also use a simple/useful trick:
As soon as you finished to convert the 2D polylines into 3D contour lines, select all the lines/constraints built by ArchiTerra (Pay attention they are grouped with the HotSpots/Points so you should suspend the groups before selecting them!) and delete them.
In this way you will process only points and you will get a less complex mesh, easier to handle and elaborate for ArchiCAD.
You can always use the ArchiTerra contour lines function (select the mesh/terrain and click on the ArchiTerra contour lines tool) to display the contour lines both in 2D and in 3D.

User avatar
By Thomas Holm
Thanks. I'll try this. Unfortunately, the contour map, which I got from the local municipality, doesn't contain any 3D data.
User avatar
By Thomas Holm

I followed your tip and deleted the Architerra lines, leaving the hotspots/points.

I then created a rectangular fill, enclosing all the points, with ARchicad.

I selected the fill and clicked Architerra's Outline tool.

(There are two additional parameters that I can't find in the manual:
d and alpha - how do I set them?)

After clicking OKI get an error message:

"Error: The resulting outline includes less than three nodes" OK

and no outline is created. What am I doing wrong?
User avatar
By Fabrizio Diodati
Dera Thomas,

once again… you are right!
Due to its diffusion ArchiTerra is something like a work-in-progress. I mean if we can make easier it use or if we can add new issues requested by the users we do so immediately, including them in the next maintenance release.
But, unfortunately, this means that the “standard” documentation (I mean that one included in the user manual) cannot be update with all the new added features.

The ArchiTerra you just downloaded uses a different algorithm/procedure to define/calculate the outline.
You have to draw (first method) a polyline around your terrain.
Drawing the polyline you will see two lines (left and right side of the middle-line) which define a so-called corridor of search.
The d value is the width of this corridor.

In order to get a correct outline this corridor of search should includes the nodes you want to use as perimeter reference.

The alpha value is the so called angle of search: ArchiTerra will use this angle to look for the next node of the perimeter (the angle is taken from the angle defined from the polyline you draw).

Not so simple to describe in English for me… but is very simple I attached to this post an image showing you what I mean.

In the image you see some points and one outline side (the thick red line).
The two blue lines represent the corridor of search width (D value) all the points external to this corridor won’t be in the calculated outline.

The two light blue cone represent the angle of search (2xalpha value is the total angle width).
Starting from the A point, the B points won’t be in the terrain outline because it is external to this angle and it will take into consideration the C point (more distant but internal to the angle of search).
The same, starting this time from the found C point for the two nodes D and E (D will be discharged and E will be included).

The best things is to use the standard value for the angle and a proper size for the width (it depends on the distance between the point and from their position) than simply “approximate” the perimeter you want: you will get the result.

The result is an ArchiCAD fill so, later, you can edit it by adding or deleting the nodes you want or not.

In your case, probably, you draw the rectangle totally “out” from the existing points (so the corridor of search doesn’t include none of them) and ArchiTerra isn’t able to find the solution.

Please, send me your file ( and I will check it, sending you the right suggestion to create the terrain.

ArchiTerra Outline.jpg
User avatar
By Thomas Holm
Fabrizio, I appreciate your advice, however I'd appreciate even more if you had included some addendum description with the Architerra 2.01 download.

I will try your tip soon, however, I have limited time today. In the mean time, I have a couple of other questions:

1. I would like you to retain a simple way of defining the boundaries of a terrain model as a simple rectangle. Just like when we do a gypsum or cardboard model, that is what we prefer in the most cases.

2. I would like to know if there are there any other undocumented changes in 2.01, or if you have some documentation of them?

3. I have installed ArchiTerra 2.01 into the Addons folder within the Archicad 8.1 folder. (Archicad 8.1v2INT/SWE, MacG4Dual533/OSX10.3.5). Contrary to the manual, the Architerra menu doesn't appear in the menu bar, instead in Extras>Architerra2.01>Load Architerra Tool Palette.
Each time I quit Archicad after having loaded the Architerra tool palette, Archicad crashes and the Bug reporter window comes up, as well as Apple's "Do you want to send a bug report to Apple" dialog.
The crash comes also if I have closed the Architerra palette, but not if I didn't load it at all during the session. Do you have any hints on how to get rid of this crash?

4. The above seems like a simple Architerra bug, but I do have one suspicion: What OSX file/folder priviledges does Architerra require to operate?

5. I will recieve Archicad 9 in a couple of days. Are there any additional changes to Architerra in the 2.02 version, or in how it operates in Archicad 9?

6. Do you have any changes documentation? If so, where can I find it?
User avatar
By Fabrizio Diodati

you are right but everybody was pressing us to get the updates for ArchiCAD 9… since before it was released.
We were in a big hurry and as soon as we finished the updates we upload them at , in this occasion we also take the advantage to update also the version for ArchiCAD 8.1.

Probably it should be better to keep the old ones.
In the next days I will publish a tutorial about the new outline procedure in the ArchiTerra web site ( so also this last issue will be documented.

1. ArchiTerra bases the model on the survey data. To get what you are looking for you need to add 4 points at the boundary box of your terrain and then draw the polyline (that one used for the corridor of search) clicking on these points. Another method, that could work fine (maybe better) is to build a rectangular base with the Slab tool, just below your terrain.
2. No other changes. We optimize just a bit more the software but nothing that could influence the way in which you use it.
3. The location of the ArchiTerra manual is in the Extra folder: this is a new ArchiCAD issue (I don’t remember when GS introduced it) that came after we build the software and print the manual. About the crash, as you probably know, we are a Macintosh based software house. It’s strange that ArchiCAD crashes after downloading ArchiTerra nobody, till now, reported this behaviour. Please, send me the GSReport and I will personally forward them to my Hungarian friends (only them can read it!) to get more info.
4. As all the other add-ons, ArchiTerra doesn’t need any special privilege: if you permission right are wrong you couldn’t start ArchiTerra at all!
5. ArchiTerra 2.02 is the same ArchiTerra 2.01 you just got: we changed the name (I was contrary about this issue :cry: ) only to make clear it is a different version. The only thing you will realize is that under ArchiCAD 9 ArchiTerra is at least 10 time faster… unfortunately it doesn’t come from us but from the wonderful job Graphisoft did in the API Environment. Another little, but useful issue, is coming from the fact that the Section/Elevation windows can keep the original zoom detail level: that means each time you will modify the road longitudinal section level points you don’t need anymore to zoom in to get again your previous view.
6. As I wrote before, sooner at

User avatar
By Thomas Holm

it would not be better to keep the old versions. The one on the CD that I bought (2.0) doesn't work at all with Archicad 8.1v2.

I conclude that 2.02 is the same as 2.01, just recompiled for AC9. I guess I'll have to re-download it just the same.

I appreciate that you'll document the version changes.

I have mailed the GS bug report to you. Thanks!

I'm still not sure Architerra's terrain creation methods are any advantage to me, given the data source (a dwg 2D contour map) that I have.

Before, i have used the ARchicad mesh tool along with the tips on Archiguide- ... wings.html
-, and that seems to give me better control over both the terrain model shape and the number of points used, especially when you now have removed the option of creating a terrain outline from an Archicad fill.
I would think it had been better to retain that method and add the "polyline corridor" as an additional method.

Maybe a future addition to Architerra could be a shortcut to the Archiguide method described above?

However, don't be afraid that I regret my purchase. I'm convinced that Architerra's Road tool will eventually pay off. Creating roads in a terrain mesh with Archicad's tools only is a Herculean task ;-)
User avatar
By Fabrizio Diodati

you can still use a fill!

Draw the Fill,
Select it,
Click on the Outline Tool

The same rules will be applied but, once again, you need the four points on the bounding box...

User avatar
By Fabrizio Diodati

I just published at (FAQ/Tutorial area) the last additions included in the last version of ArchiTerra... also those ones I forgot in my previous post!


Hoping this will help you,