ArchiCAD Architectural Design Course Outline

In this Architectural Design using ArchiCAD course, Robert Mann from Archi-Ed teaches methods for using ArchiCAD as a design tool. 

Although I highly recommend still using pen and paper and other tactile methods when first creating a concept, shortly after I continue the concept design process in ArchiCAD to test and develop it to produce a feasible and practical design to my client's brief.

Course inclusions:

When purchasing the full ArchiCAD Design course, this includes:

  • 30 short video tutorials instructing a method of developing a concept design in ArchiCAD. 
  • ArchiCAD Design project file
  • Site survey (.pdf)
  • Concept design (.jpg) 

This course is for you if:

  • You want to use ArchiCAD as a design tool.
  • You are interested in the process of design and visualisation.
  • You find the standard interface of ArchiCAD too complicated for simple mass-modelling.
  • You are considering whether to use another program like Sketch Up instead of ArchiCAD.


We use ArchiCAD Version 24 Professional to deliver this course. 

Whether you are studying and have the educational version of ArchiCAD or working within the industry and have the Professional package of ArchiCAD, this course is for you.

Although learning the skills and techniques are the same, please be aware that the Start Editions are not always compatible or have a reduced functionality to the Professional Package of ArchiCAD. This may therefore limit the use of our .pln file and template. See Graphisoft's compatibility chart for more information.  

Course Outline

I recommend watching the videos in the following order. However, as they are individual topics you have the benefit of picking and choosing or revisiting a particular element at any time. Each video is labelled accordingly and you can see the length of each video (in minutes and seconds), making it a time efficient way to learn ArchiCAD.

This course consists of 8 subjects.

Subject 1 - Setup

1.1 - Template  (4:50)

ArchiCAD has an extensive set of tools that can distract during the design process. In this video we'll review the interface, and discuss what is needed to allow you to work in an environment free from distraction.

1.2 - White Model Massing (1:21)

Model view options allow the 3D elements to be graphically represented in a variety of ways. In this video we'll review the options, and simplify the representation for conceptual design.

1.3 - Grids & Snaps (3:57)

Grids can be used in 2D & 3D to help guide your design process, but can sometimes also get in the way. In this video we'll review how to use them to enhance your digital design interface.

Subject 2 - Site & Context 

2.1 - Site Mesh (3:43)

For fast site mesh modelling where accuracy is not essential, we can create a conceptual site mesh by elevating essential spot levels only. In this video we'll explain how to create a simple terrain mesh.

2.2 - Building Height Plane (1:31)

Designing with a strict building height limit can be difficult on sloping sites. In this video we'll use an elevated site mesh to provide graphic design feedback when testing a massed model.

2.3 - Context Massing (3:17)

Good design should respond to its surrounding context. In this video we'll demonstrate how to simply model neighbouring structures.

Subject 3 - Concept Sketches

3.1 - Importing Sketches (1:39)

Freehand sketches remains invaluable to the design process. In this video we'll import hand-drawn sketches into a worksheet which can then be used as a trace reference.

3.2 - Trace Reference (3:09)

Trace reference allows you to trace over imported files, such as conceptual sketches and survey plans. In this video we'll explore the features of this function.

Subject 4 - Concept Massing

4.1 - Storey Settings (0:42)

ArchiCAD's storey settings create a vertical division of height in the 3D model. In this video we'll use the storey settings to interactively manipulate the height of existing and proposed modelled elements.

4.2 - Multi-plane Roof Tool (3:59)

Creating a digital massing model with slabs and roofs allow for simple polygonal extrusion that can be edited as the design progresses. In this video we'll use the slab and roof tools to mass a design from a trace-referenced sketch.

4.3 - Single-plane Roof Tool (2:01)

ArchiCAD's roof tool can be used in a variety of ways. In this video we'll create a single-plane roof, also known as a skillion or a mono-pitched roof. 

4.4 - 3D Massing (3:36)

The completion of a 3D massed architectural project requires the modelling of many sub elements. In this video we'll review each step, repeating many of the previous processes to finish the massing process.

Subject 5 - Organic Shapes & Editing

5.1 - Morph Tool (4:30)

The morph tool provides for organic manipulation and 3D rotation of any extruded prism. In this video we'll experiment with its use where the slab and roof tools are unable to provide the creative organic freedom required.

5.2 - Shell Tool (5:36)

The shell tool allows for 3D rotation of an extruded composite, generated from a polyline or arc. In this video we'll use the shell tool to create a curved structure.

5.3 - Morph to Rotate (4:04)

Any 3D element can be converted into a morph, allowing it to be rotated freely around any axis. In this video we'll create a bowed truss using a slab, and then convert it into a morph, rotate it into the correct plane and multiply. 

5.4 - Solid Element Operations (3:46)

There are multiple ways to connect and manipulate 3D elements in ArchiCAD. In this video we will use the connect and solid element operation functions to merge and crop 3D forms.

5.5 - Adjusting Building Height (2:28)

There are times where the building height needs to be adjusted to respond empathetically to the ground levels or in order to fit within the building height plane. In this video we will use the elevate tool and storey settings to provide a design resolution to fit within the building height plane.

Subject 6 - Design Development

6.1 - Topographic Contours (4:11)

To accurately model site levels, adding land contours may be required. In this video we'll explore how to do this using splines & polylines.

6.2 - Creating Composites (3:01)

Utilising detailed composites provides the most accuracy and efficiency when developing an ArchiCAD model. In this video we'll implement and edit them to suit the design and site.

6.3 - Complex Profiles (3:18)

Complex profiles provide detailed extrusions necessary to accurately model construction systems. In this video we'll explore how these can enhance a BIM design model. 

Subject 7 - Doors and Windows 

7.1 - Doors (2:47)

Doors can be added into walls in a variety of sizes, types, materials, and methods. In this video we'll explore the methodology of adding and editing doors in ArchiCAD.

7.2 - Windows (2:10)

Windows, like doors, can be added into walls in a variety of sizes, types, materials, and methods. In this video we'll explore the methodology of adding and editing windows in ArchiCAD.

7.3 - Openings (2:39)

Openings can cut through any part of the ArchiCAD model. In this video we'll add openings as empty doorways, nieches, and voids.

7.4 - Corner Windows (1:25)

Corner windows allow an ArchiCAD window to be added to the corner of two walls. Some window options also allow for frameless corner glazing junction. In this video we'll use the horizontal multi-sash window to create a corner window.

7.5 - Skylights (1:44)

The ArchiCAD library has a range of skylights that can be added into a single roof element in a similar manner as how a window or door is added into a wall. In this video we'll review the critical settings at play when inserting a skylight.

7.6 - Curtain Wall (1:59)

Curtain wall systems are useful for creating geometric facades, and adding large format glazing beyond the scope of the window tool. In this video we'll use the curtain wall tool to develop facade design options.

Subject 8 - Objects, Stair & Rail Tool

8.1 - Object Library (1:36)

Furniture layout objects allow for rapid editable spatial arrangements. In this video we'll use ArchiCAD objects to test the spatial use of interior spaces with the use of standardised furniture layouts.

8.2 - Stair & Rail Tool - Auto Shapes (5:47)

ArchiCAD's stair and rail tools can function independently or uniformly when being placed into a project. In this video we'll create stairs automatically, allowing ArchiCAD's stair building algorithms to design a stair to fit the described shape.

8.3 - Stair Setting (5:50)

Stairs can be edited and manipulated before, during and after placement in the project. In this video we'll stretch and adjust stair nodes and geometry to manipulate the design outcome.

8.4 - Stair Structure and Surface (3:11)

ArchiCAD's stair tool is crafted with both structural and surface characteristics. In this video we'll adjust the settings of each, fine-tuning the detailed settings and custom editing the model. 

8.5 - Rail (5:09)

Generally it is preferable to auto-generate an ArchiCAD rail to suit a stair. However, rails can be created independently from stairs, and adjusted in equally great details. In this video we'll review the complexities of the rail tool, and explore how to use favourites as a shortcut to achieve the desired design outcome.

9.1 Design Course Conclusion (2:07)

Using ArchiCAD as a design tool can increase productivity, and reduce the likelihood for errors in compliance adherence. In this video we'll review the process, benefits, and some ongoing limitations in using ArchiCAD as a design tool.

What's next - Documentation 

Once the design phase is finished, the Archicad Documentation course by Robert Mann from Archi-Ed teaches how to develop presentation and technical documentation plan sets for design approval and construction. 

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