The Global ARCHICAD Community

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Discussions about managing ARCHICAD in architectural practices (Project Setup, Templates, Attributes, Migration, Compatibility with Previous Versions, Preferences/Work Environment, User/Project/Application Administration/Management etc.)

Moderators: Karl Ottenstein, LaszloNagy, ejrolon, Barry Kelly, gkmethy

By skawagon
Hi, we just recently moved into ArchiCAD, running 20 in our firm. I personally have a long history of working with AC, however, I did stop using it for a brief period of just about a time the building materials were first introduced. We use them on all our projects, as we like the benefits of using them. As of now, we run with standard AC materials that come with the box and make a new one when we need it. However, things are slowly starting to get out of hand and there will be a need to simplify the structure very soon. Our major concern is that we quite often run into problems where we need the same material to be in one instance cut through by another one, but in other intersection, we need the exact opposite result. Usually, we create a copy of the material, put a space bar on the end of its name and change its priority. This then becomes hard to navigate and is prone to provoke errors and also hard to explain to new colleagues. So I would like to ask what is your strategy for managing materials, perhaps what kind of logic you use, or how do you approach it. Any comment will be welcomed.
Hi Skawagon,

Here's how we do it in our office. It is quite simple and works well for us :

First we adapted the basic Archicad materials list to our need in an office template. We renamed some materials, tweeked priorities when needed and created new ones when needed. The goal was for the template and base materials to work well in every basic and common situation we encounter daily.

Then, just as you said, every project is unique and you'll always need to create new materials. The rule is simple : never modify a base material -> always duplicate an existing one to do what you need. You also need a solid set of rules to name things in Archicad so that everything stays ordered and clear for everyone. The "space" technique works in certain cases to sort attributes in a specific way but the best way to do it for me is to describe things. "Concrete" can be declined for instance into "Concrete +" and "Concrete -". Same materials with higher or lower intersection priority (in my experience, you rarely need more than this to handle priority / if this is not the case, the modeling technique should be checked and perhaps optimized).

The "don't modify base attributes" and naming convention are keys to handle almost every Archicad Attribute.

With this in mind, you should never find bad surprises in your projects and be able to keep a nice and clean list of attributes than anyone can understand.

Hope it helps.

For material naming I work on the basis that if it is described separately in the specification, then that is the name it will be given e.g. 2.1 Face brick, 2.2 Blockwork inner leaf etc. I guess most of my work is housing orientated, so it may not work on more complex projects. It does however speed up documentation as composites can be labelled with skin lists and details will explode to allow labelling of the individual fills. It also means if you change a material description, say to 2.1A Face brick the change automatically cascades to all the labels that have used autotext or skin list labels.
By skawagon
Thanks for the comments, our strategy is so far similar to what Johan does, but as we list material names in associative labels we do not have the opportunity to add visible characters to the list. I started to change the material ID by adding H (High) and L for lower priority instances of the same material.
However, originally I wanted to know if anybody changed the structure of materials in a more significant way. For example, I am constantly fighting the use of certain types of insulation that I used both in floor layers and in exterior walls now resulting in all sorts of amusing problems. For that reason, I am considering to split materials to categories like internal (between the internal load bearing construction) external (anything that is outside load bearing construction) load bearing (obviously) and then the killer materials that are essentially able to cut through anything, like insulation against water, for example. I also consider splitting some of those into vertical and horizontal since it usually is a problem when using one material in different scenarios. Did anybody try something like this? I would love to see if anybody came up with working internal logic for problems like this.
My specification arrangement kind of does what you are suggesting as I end up with separate insulation for ground floor, wall cavity, upper floor, partitions and roof, so there's plenty of scope to manage priorities before resorting to strength indicators in the name.
User avatar
By Tim Ball
I rename all the standard building materials to align them with my own specification headings that is based upon the UK CAWS system and then do the same for surfaces too. I also use a layer system that uses the same headings, that way I only have one system to remember.

I add quite a few materials to handle different actual building materials and also to deal with high and low priority conditions.
By skawagon
Hi Tim, I had to read a little overview of what CAWS is, and it seems quite straight forward. Could you show printscreen as how your mateial manager looks like? I would love to see it in practice, thanks:)
User avatar
By Tim Ball
I am away from the office at the moment so can’t do a print screen but essentially I use the CAWS alpha-numeric scheme as the material ID with some extra descriptions so that the materials are grouped the way I want them. Quick part list would be

D Groundwork | Hardcore
D Groundwork | Waterproofing
E Groundwork | In Situ Concrete

It’s a bit more complicated than that but you get the idea. You can choose whatever system is well recognised by the people you work with