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What Is ArchiCAD In The Context BIM? Which One Is Better ArchiCAD Or Revit?

Last time we talked about the evolution of BIM while particularly focusing on Revit. However, it is not possible to talk about BIM without mentioning ArchiCAD. We barely acknowledged it last time, so this time let’s properly dive into ArchiCAD. How has the pioneering BIM software evolved? How is it tackling the new developments of today? And finally which software is better if you want to adopt BIM? ArchiCAD or Revit?

Brief History

First, let’s talk a little bit about the history of ArchiCAD to understand its pioneering role in the context of BIM.

It all started in 1982 in Budapest. Radar CH was released in 1984 for Apple Lisa OS. This was an early implementation of the idea of virtual building, considered as ArchiCAD 1.0.

It was written in Geometric Description Language, a programming language based on BASIC. This allowed users to build their own 2D and 3D geometric objects. (Graphisoft has a GDL Center a website dedicated to teaching the basics of GDL. You should definitely check if you are interested in GDL)

A screenshot from RadarCH – an early implementation of ArchiCAD – image is retrieved from archdaily.com

In 1986, ArchiCAD was officially launched under Graphisoft company which (as we mentioned previously here) made ArchiCAD the first BIM software available. It was allowing users to create 3D models and store a large amount of data in these models.

In 1995, it was available for both Macintosh and Windows. In 1997, Teamwork feature has been added to ArchiCAD. The file exchange based feature was aiming architects to collaborate on projects.

ArchiCAD 2.0 released in 1986 – image is retrieved from pazacademy.com

Around the early 2000s, ArchiCAD gained a considerable amount of users especially around Europe and Asia. Soon after, in 2006 Nemetschek Group the owner of Cinema 4D, Allplan and Vectorworks has acquired Graphisoft and ArchiCAD.

Recent Developments in ArchiCAD

🔹Collaboration

Teamwork 2.0 established on a database approach released in 2009. This feature is allowing users to work in teams within the same network or over the internet. The main project file is to be shared over the BIM server, and BIM server manager can determine the roles of the users. The roles can vary from “create projects”, to “create and modify projects” to “view only”.

In 2020, BIMcloud has been released in order to create a collaborative cloud-based system. Different disciplines can form teams to start working on the same project to coordinate their respective files.

🔹Rendering

In 2014, the built-in renderer of ArchiCAD has included CineRender developed by MAXON which is the team behind Cinema4D.

Moreover, recently ArchiCAD has partnered up with Twinmotion powered by Unreal Engine of Epic Games, allowing certain professional license holders of ArchiCAD to have free access to Twinmotion to produce photorealistic renders, as well as  360° VR videos. (Twinmotion is free for students! If you are a student, you should definitely test it out!)

Twinmotion in action on Zaha Hadid Architects’ Project – Image is retrieved from twinmotion.com
🔹Adaptation of Generative Design

In 2017, ArchiCAD released Rhino–Grasshopper–Archicad Toolset enabling users to import, export models and have a live connection between ArchiCAD and Rhino-Grasshopper platforms. This free set of plug-ins opened up a door for a lot more flexibility and possibilities in terms of creativity and efficiency.

🔹BIMX

In 2017, ArchiCAD released BIMx -a set of design and presentation apps aiming to bridge the gap between the design studio and the construction site.

“BIMx features the ‘BIM Hyper-model’ – a game-like navigation tool that helps anyone explore the building model and understand project deliverables. Real-time model cut-throughs, in-context measuring and project markups in the model context make BIMx your best on-site BIM companion.”

ArchiCAD or Revit?

Both software has their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to their differences. If we go through them briefly here:

🔹Operating System

ArchiCAD is available for both macOS and Windows, whereas Revit is only available for Windows.

🔹Price

Although both software has different licensing plans, it seems in general ArchiCAD comes with a lower price these days.

Also, both have free access for students. If you are a student I would highly recommend testing and learning the basics for both!

🔹Collaboration

Revit is providing all-in-one environment for collaboration. It has architectural, structural and mechanical versions and supports a collaborative environment within the same .RVT format.

ArchiCAD enables the collaboration via Open BIM platform. It works with .IFC open data format which can be read by many other programs, and this is possibly providing a bigger range of readability.

🔹Plug-ins

A lot of features are built-in in Revit, whereas in ArchiCAD users need to use plug-ins to have access to some features. A wide range of free and purchasable plug-ins are available for ArchiCAD.

This is both advantageous and disadvantageous. If you do not need most of these plug-ins, it means ArchiCAD comes with a more simple, user-friendly interface. On the other hand, if you need these more advanced features then you will end up paying more than what you initially thought of.

🔹Visualization

For rendering most users go for actual rendering programs. Still, built-in quick rendering, and having decent looking 3D visuals for presentations might be a significant concern. Both programs have fair built-in rendering features.

Revit has the cloud rendering option which might save up a great amount of your time. On the other hand, ArchiCAD has BIMx platform, allowing users to virtually walk through the model and reach drawings even in 3D quite easily from basically any device you might have.

Image retrieved from graphisoft.com

Final Thoughts

This time we mainly focused on ArchiCAD and the differences between ArchiCAD and Revit. Some of these differences bring certain advantages or disadvantages and make it hard to reach an easy verdict true for all.

When it comes to choosing, it is best to consider your expectations and invest accordingly. If you are a student or a beginner in BIM, I would suggest testing them out and learning the basics in both. They do have free trials and free student versions.

One thing that can easily be said is that Revit is the most popular BIM software of today. ArchiCAD once started as the pioneer in BIM area, seems to be trying to catch up with Revit today. But, despite being in rivalry with the industry giant, it does not seem to fall out of the competition. And this competition might be very valuable for the demands of the industry.

Let us know your thoughts on ArchiCAD and Revit! Do you think there is a clear winner in this competition? What is your impression, experience or predictions? Let us know in the comments!

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