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News from the ArchiCAD University Winter School 2004

News from the ArchiCAD University Winter School 2004

We have had perfect skiing conditions, over a metre of good snow cover. Sunday morning was ideal conditions, sunshine and wonderful views. In the afternoon, cloud came in and visibility was reduced, but as it was our first day, it was good not to overdo the knees and ankles and retreat to to hotel. All the lifts are operating, so we have plenty of mountain and valley to explore!
There are 38 of us here and the hotel is full.
Sunday evening, we had two sessions. Simon Gilbert, Tech support of GS UK presented the secrets of ArchicAD 8.1.
After the beer break, Lazlo Neda of Graphisoft HU, "Mister Wishlist" as he is also known held a most interesting seminar of the future of ArchiCAD and started a rolling discussion till afer 11pm on improvements to ArchiCAD and Plotmaker.
Predictions for Monday? perfect conditions, sunshine all day.

News from the ArchiCAD University Winter School 2004

Skiing conditions for Monday were unbelievable! Perfect visibility all day, sunshine on south facing slopes till after 4pm, no ice on the pistes (fresh snow coating at the weekend), all lifts operating. Snow is expected overnight and Tuesday, so we enjoy it while we can.

The evening talks were also excellent. The topic was 'Rendering and presentation'. The enchanting Ildiko Szabo of Abvent gave a presentation on three topics. is a new web server for architects to deposit project information and set up access levels for clients, colleagues etc. ArchiGate is well established in France, and due to be available in German and English this spring.
The second item was the relaunched AV-Works 2 for ArchiCAD 8.1, greatly improved from version 1. This has been made possible by replicating ArchiCAD's library of lamps with additional parameters such as soft shadows, global illumination etc.
This was pretty good, but we were then knocked off our seats by her third topic which was a new product called PhotoCAD. We thought "oh not another stitcher", but within 10 mins, we were all asked if she takes credit card right now! This stitches Cylindrical and Spherical panoramas, but in a most sexy way - as you bring the pictures in to join them they are preshaped so you see the cylinder forming - and you pan and zoom effortlessly as you join the pictures. Uneven light levels or distortion from wide angle lenses are capable of being corrected; people who have moved between photographs can be selectively hidden, hotspots for jumping to the next panorama can be drawn, and by distortion extraction, elevations of buildings can be extracted as accurate flat images - and then mapped onto ArchiCAD or Sketchup wall suurfaces. Compilation of the final panorama takes seconds instead of minutes as with Apple's VR authoring tool.

The next presentation wasn Pavol Elias from Dunako in Slovakia with a world beating product ArchiShock3D, which is a 3D export to Shockwave 3D, and a template for using in a website which means that a comprehensive building model can be viewed and walked around in a normal web browser. Works on Mac and PC. This is a wonderful innovation, and effectively replaces GS's very flaky GDL browser and VR Objects and VR walkabouts and flythroughs at a stroke. File sizes are smaller than traditional VR or movies, the model streams on to your page visually as it downloads (so you see it building), the Open GL rendering is more sophisticated than ArchiCAD's (good glass!). It also works in ArchiCADs publisher, so that a rotatable/ walkaboutable 3d model is now included with the other drawings. All the client needs is Open GL on their PC/Mac, and download the free Shockwave plugin. Pavol will be at ArchiCAD University in Nottingham, and either Pavol or David NC will show this incredible plugin at ACUWest in Pomona in March.

The final presentation was from Simon Gilbert of Graphisoft, of ArchiLumos, which appears every bit as good as the rumours say. They, like Abvent have also taken the ArchiCAD lights library and added more code so that light output is measured in Lumens, or can follow downloadable IES data from lighting manufacturers. The Plug in makes its own model of the surfaces in the environment of your view, assembles the surfaces and lights in a floating window/pallete, and you can then generate the final view.

an excellent day, in all ways. If you arent here, why not??
so here i am at the top of a mountain in a blizzard. body and mind are getting a thorough workout for sure . . .

yesterday (tuesday) was a poor skiing day for us beginners - (i really don't have any idea how to ski, but i'm getting pretty good at standing back up again now!)

the day was spent indoors in small groups learning from each other and trying a few new things out. we're lucky to have a small contingent from graphisoft with us to talk things through with - i'm personally on a mission to fill lazslo 'mr-wishlist' neda's notebook with new ideas and his colleague andor 'mr-tech-support' szoke's notebook with issues surrounding the existing ideas! so far so good . . . (thanks guys!)

yesterday evening i had a choice between running over some of the serious construction documentation stuff in archiCAD and plotmaker, or handing myself over to DNC and his GDL workshop. i'm pretty much a novice at GDL, but i figured i'd been throwing myself off of mountains the past few days, so why not jump head first into the GDL too . . .

i now know just how much i need to learn . . . the small, 'nursery-slope' routine demonstrations quickly turned into a full-on black run with visual, editable control panels in the floor plan and solo window casements that just seemed to recognise and snap to each other making objects more and more customisable on the fly . . .

an extremely necessary beer followed in the kellerbar. and i've still got my 'homework' to go: a fully parametric ski lift mechanism with editable hotspots and a UI . . . anybody got an idea where i start?!!

b e n f r o s t
b f [a t ] p l a n b a r c h i t e c t u r e [d o t] n z
archicad | sketchup! | coffeecup
Monday night changed from sunny all day to driving wind late in the evening and we were frequently wakened during the night by the heavy gusts, and in the Tuesday morning, we all enjoyed a morning in the comfort of the Edelweiss Hotel, watching a few brave souls braving the Force 7 wind outside.
It calmed down in the day, but visibility was poor - so a lot of networking and ArchiCAD discussion took place throughout the day.

The evening was in 2 channels, some 15/16 people braving an evening of advanced GDL from yours truly, with a demonstration of many objects that exemplified advanced techniques. The remainder took part in an ArchiCAD Seminar with Adrian Harms, Herbert Peter and Frode Saltjevik.

Everyone was so keyed up that we continued in the Kellerbar, but this time, strictly with the emphasis on enjoying the beer and Herbert Peter and DNC playing the guitar and a few brave ones singing (for some) until 2, 3, 4, 5, and for a few crazies, 6am!!

Although snow was still falling, visibility was good and the skiing was excellent for those who wanted to learn powder skiing. the Austrians are just magic as ski teachers and have great patience with anybody who wants to learn. The official ski school have a brilliant teacher called Franz, who has brought on the beginners to confident intermediates.

In the evening, people continued with the workshops from the night before, the ArchiCAD people taking that further (there will be another report on that soon), and the GDL people discussing Graphical hotspots before embarking on making some GDL models of skilift and cable cars structures as an example of hotspots and many other advanced techniques.

David Nicholson-Cole : ArchiCAD University Europe 2004
*17-24 January 2004 Feuerkogel near Salzburg, Austria*
ArchiCAD Users Winter School
with the Austrian ArchiCAD Users Association AUAA
Skiing/snowboarding during the day, ArchiCAD evening seminars
Information page is on
fax +44-115-945-5121 or email
News from the ArchiCAD University Winter School 2004

Fresh snowfall over night and the whole resort was coated with delightful powder that made for some of the safest and most interesting skiing that anybody could ask for. As specks were still falling (and people enjoying it) the piste machine only flattened the beginners slopes, so we enjoyed the more advanced slopes with nearly half a metre of fresh powder cover to explore. This is the most 'cake-icing' I have ever seen, yet it feels like an infinitely soft feather quilt. Some of the Austrian Archicad users took us out and taught us soft powder techniques till we were totally confident.
After a morning of this, the lovely icing was full of interesting patterns of ski tracks, and sometimes of large bum marks; yet no injuries, only laughs.
We were taught so well that on the following day when the pistes were machined down, we relative beginners were still seeking out soft side areas to do some of our turns.

The locals had created an IGLOO pub during the week, so we enjoyed an hour of night skiing 8-9 by floodlights. They had piled up a massive mound of snow during the previous weeks which had compacted nicely. During our week, they were carving it out with a chainsaw and by Thursday evening it was a welcoming Pub with electric lighting and a bar, and people could ski into it, take a cup of punch and ski out again.
About 10.00, Mike Lucey (from western Ireland) gave a long talk on Sketchup, intuitive 3D modelling software. His practice has made extensive use of this, and for construction, he is migrating from AutoCAD to ArchiCAD. He also showed us the Sketchup equivalent of ArchiCAD talk, a very active forum, with a huge resource of examples of users work and downloadable objects and files.
Maybe this was the alcohol acting, but the best skiers in the group decided on a midnight ski, climbed the Heumahdgupf peak nearby and skied down through the soft stuff lit only by starlight and the light from Jorn Lovland's miners lamp helmet.
News from Winter School Friday and Saturday
Friday 23rd jan

The skiing conditions and sunshine were 110%, the kind of day that Alex (our hotel owner) said we may only get once or twice in a winter. The pistes were smoothed now, and with the mesh of runs and lifts, we could enjoy great variety. There were ski races taking place on the long chair lift run, and we shared the mountain and valley with a lot of enthusiastic day skiers and spectators.

In the evening, we had our usual 'POT LUCK' of presentations, but as the hotel design team were still frantically polishing off the design, we left the start till 9pm.

DavidNC from Nottingham kicked off with some travel info for the flying delegates and a presentation of some Cadburys chocolate to the two waitresses, Nicole and Daniella.

Pavol Elias from Slovakia showed some work a a few years back in which he was developing algorithms for interpreting the false perspectives of one of the impossible objects in a drawing by Escher - the Belvedere - the boy in the bottom left corner is puzzling over just such an object.

David NC showed one of his current GDL projects, a GDL configurator for Velfac 200 range windows (an unfunded research project) that can produce all of the current configurations (about 60) plus another million or two. (A GDL configurator for Norwegian windows had been shown to both groups back on Tuesday.) David also showed the delegates ArchiCAD-Talk, quickly explaining how the system worked, and showing an example of BBCode. He also showed some extracts from the ArchiPUB and GDL Talk.

Charlotte Darre a 22yr old student from Aarhus, Denmark, showed the work of her GDL class in Aarhus (which has had some late-in-the-day teaching input from David NC). The students have been tackling serious building technology tasks, and were required to build a small building at the end using the GDL objects, such as stairs, doors, windows, ceilings, flooring, bathrooms. Her task was precast walling panels (conforming to manufacturers rules), with a well developed user interface and graphical hotspots.

Adrian Harms from Nottingham took us through a quick demonstration of Piranesi - retouching software with remarkable options for finally texturing the image, inserting people and vegetation and for applying artistic effects.

Georg Weber, from Munchen Gladbach, showed us the work he has been doing in retail, with recent work setting up shops within shops for Alberto, a manufacturer of fashion trousers; something like 3 shops a week. These are done in hours thanks to the investment made in GDL objects which when brought together complete the shop and all listing information required. He has also done some houses which we saw some of last year.

Gerhard Hladik, from Salzburg, showed us a cute trick with Mesh Objects. He has written a neat little GDL file during the week which takes a mesh object, and generates a version of it cut into slices at user settable heights to show the contours of it in 2D and 3D.

Simon Gilbert, of Graphisoft UK, showed us a quick view of ArchiGUIDE and then showed an interesting construction simulation project for drilling railway tunnels. He finished with a quick canter through some of the movies of skiers at the Winter School, including some spectacular powder skiing from Lazlo Neda and Herbert Graier.

Andreas Lettner and Herbert Peter (from Innsbruck and Vienna) presented a scheme they had developed in about 15 hours with ArchiCAD/Teamwork for a new Feuerkokel Hotel to replace the ruined Berghof next to the Cablecar station. This was a strikingly modernist response to the site, and would represent an impressive object on the skyline for arrivals in the new cablecar. Adrian Harms had used a contour plan of the Feuerkogel locality to generate a 3D model of the site (roughly with 100m contours) and planted over 1000 ArchicAD trees, and the hotel design. He used Navisworks thereafter to show us how fast it is in coping with many polygons.

David NC closed with a quick show of Ecotect software, the building environmental prediction software from Andrew Marsh of Cardiff University (http:/

Saturday 24th Jan
The conditions were so perfect, we decided to stay on till lunchtime and we were awarded free extensions to our ski hire and lift passes for the half day. For those who travelled to Salzburg it was highly rewarding. We found time to have a quick look round both Mozart's Living house and Birth house. That day, there was a big international outdoor music festival, using highly coloured facepainted, coloured costumed groups of about 20 each, brass, drums and dancing. Although we were too late to see the main parade, the bands were walking around the city, entertaining in every street and platz of the pedestrianised city centre.

ACUE Winter School
There is a most remarkable chemistry in the whole event - the magic combination of altitude, fresh air, feeling the improving fitness and skills is unequalled any other way - and then there is the most remarkable networking and friendship making in the evenings.
And having had the best snow conditions in recent memory (more than five years have gone by since anybody there can remember such a good winter) there were no grumbles about the skiing conditions, even though we took a rest during Tuesday. Although Feuerkogel is no Kitzbuhl, it has just the right combination of skiing environment to keep the experts and beginners happy alike. There is an excellent ski school at Feuerkogel, and every ACU Winter School introduces a new generation of newcomers to skiing. Its cheap and friendly, the family run Hotel treat us marvellously and provide excellent food and drink.

And the temperature is only about -10C at worst, meaning that you dont get cold. I was only needing a normal shirt and a thin sweatshirt (same warmth I would wear indoors), apart from the outer skijacket. The coldest time was about the last 2 mins of a 15min ride up the chairlift. I heard that in Banff Canada last year, the lifts were stopped because at minus 40 (F or C) the steel is too brittle to go round the rollers reliably. Well, forget the steel! Humans are too brittle to take that sort of temperature.
The program was more relaxed to allow people time to use their laptops for private work. Being able to keep in touch with home and office via broadband is helpful, and laptops enabled people to do a bit of work in spare time.
Posting by Mike Waddingham

ArchiCAD Winter School 2004[/size]

Mike isnt a member here, but he has sent this to me to post on the site....


What a success this week has been; we have had perfect snow conditions, excellent company, stacks of beer and there is a remote possibility we may have learnt something into the bargain. Writing today, Thursday 22nd January, we have had the best powder snow I’ve ever experienced, and this combined with minimal occupancy on the slopes gave us superb skiing.

I am wrecked and ache everywhere, and was just about to sink an early pint, when DNC asked if I would write up the previous two days evening lectures! Well thank you David; a little advance warning would have helped! I have now had to approach every speaker and remind myself about their topics, and apologise for falling asleep.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we split into two groups, GDL or ArchiCAD. Being entirely new to version 8, I chose the latter. Adrian Harms kicked of with some good ArchiCAD stuff, and with only a couple of beers he had my full attention.

We looked at Navigator, and the project map, is a real bonus; a vast improvement on quick views, but a most useful tip emerged. It is important to go to Options/Preferences/ 2D Redraw Options, and uncheck the little box ‘Save Navigator Preview Data with project File’. This can dramatically reduce file size. Ben Frost reported a reduction of 88Mb to 37Mb with this little tip. None of my files go to 37Mb let alone 88; I hope his salary is in proportion to his file size. Well, if it was, he wouldn’t uncheck the box would he?

About his point Steve Marshall decided it was his shout, and more beer appeared, while Adrian moved into Viewsets and on into Publisher. By Mike Lucey’s round we were into Reviewer and the Mark Up pallete. I made a hazy note to try Reviewer as a way of shifting data to and from our project managers.

Frode Salkjevik took the floor with some good stuff on Interactive Schedules, office standards and templates. At last it seems not too difficult to make a door or window schedule. About this time I lost the plot a bit, as a text came through from the new girlfriend; ‘missing you desperately’ is not the sort of message a man can ignore. Being on my fourth pint, it took a while to compose a suitably explicit reply.

We ended up in the Keller Bar with Herbert Peter playing Guitar till after 6am accompanied by the incredibly attractive Charlotte Darre, 22, student from Aarhus Denmark, with DNC and a motley chorus of the increasingly inebriated. It was noted that DNC himself strummed a number or two with not a GDL script in sight.

The second evening followed a similar pattern with some excellent lectures, a similar quantity of beer and me trying to extract myself from the hole I dug the with the previous nights texts to the new girl friend. It wasn’t so much the suggestion that she met me at Stansted in her nighty. I got into trouble when she asked which one I preferred. Any sober man knows to be very careful of the question ‘which dress do you prefer?’ Well unfortunately I must have described a nighty belonging to a previous model. There are things in life for which you really need a delete key!
Adrian Harms got my attention early with a logical review of Plotmaker; it is such a massive improvement over 2.1 and long overdue. I especially like the automatic drawing production and numbering. I have visions of pressing the button and retiring to the pub for a good lunch and returning to the office to find all the drawings ready to post. More likely this will be the moment when the plotter decides to do it’s shredder impression.

By Paul Jozsa’s round we were into Interactive scheduling with Frode Salkjevik, but I was starting to nod a bit, so a bit of revision needed here.

Herbert Peter did a piece on the calculate menu including standard lists and making new lists from scratch and from a template, and then using a database to connect prices with quantities.

We peeled off about midnight, and I went straight to bed. The skiing and the beer have taken their toll. But what a great week, and all credit to DNC and the Austrian contingent for choosing such a great hotel. The big bonus here is no strangers, we own the mountain. Forgotten are the 10 minute queues for lifts, and the totally wrecked pistes familiar to most winter holidays. The hotel is a family business and they really try to produce excellent meals and pamper their guests., I for one will definitely be coming next year.
Mike Waddingham, Blue Skies Design
Users Feedback reports from the Winter School[/size]

I have now compiled some of the reports from users into a single page, and this page can be viewed on the ACUE Website (watch for the moving banner under the ACUWS skiiing logo.)