This article started off as an idea I had years ago for a post on Shoegnome. Then it was going to be part of the first post on Graphic Data Fixes. And while it is such a fix, I think the issues it raises deserve their own post.

Invisible Door, sort of

Floor Plan Display to Cut OnlyOccasionally I need a hole in elevation, but don’t want to see the opening in plan. While rare, I do come across it most often when doing existing conditions. And there’s nothing more annoying than coming across something that’s easy to model but frustrating to depict (or not show) in plan. This situation once again illustrates how we can use the tools ArchiCAD provides to graphically cheat in smart ways. So how to show a hole in 3D but not 2D? There are actually a lot of options.

I could set the wall to be cut only and make sure the Floor Plan Cut Plane Settings are set to cut the wall above the opening. But this is problematic because it uses a global solution to handle a local problem. Setting the Cut Plane high might make the hole disappear, but also mess up the display of windows that may get excluded. There’s potentially a perfect height that shows and hides exactly what you need. But that might take a long time to find, and it’s not a solution you can easily explain to everyone. It’s a solution the next person working on the project might not understand when things start acting weird. Or more likely, it’s not a solution you’ll remember two months later when you haven’t touched the Floor Plan Cut Plane Settings in forever and forgot that they even exist (FYI, each saved floor plan view has a uniquely defined Floor Plan Cut Plane Setting). Will this solution work, probably? Is it the perfect answer for every instance? Probably not.

Floor Plan Cut Plane SettingsI could cover the hole with a fill and some lines, but that’s too much to manage. I could create the hole with a Solid Element Operation, which sadly doesn’t show on plan. But then I have to manage the operation (and hide the operator). I could cut the hole using a Beam with a Building Material of sufficiently high Priority and then I could hide the layer the beam is on. While automatic, that’s not much better than the SEO solution. The BMat solution needs to be a Beam because if I used a Wall, the cut would appear in plan as well—even if the wall was turned off, unless we did some tricky things with Layer Intersection Groups, like I describe in this post about conditional operators. By the way, the conditional operators trick now works much better in ArchiCAD 17. But again those are all 100 lb solutions for a 1 lb problem. Each of those possible answers, are too complex; and while they show off the power of ArchiCAD, they aren’t a good route for this problem. When you have time, try out each of those routes so that you’ll have those tricks available for when they are more appropriate.

Here’s my preferred solution for this odd occurrence:

Invisible DoorCreate the hole with an Empty Opening. Highlight the Empty Opening, go to the selection settings, set the Wall Contour Lines to match that of the wall, turn on the Plan Symbol Fill, and then match the Fill settings to that of the wall.

What I love about this solution is that the hole is still a door and therefore schedule-able. And the 3D and 2D are handled via the same element. Of course this won’t work in every situation. If you are using a composite wall, then you add in the complication of having more fills in the wall than can be assigned to the empty opening (which can only have one fill). But you know… knowledge is power and all that. So once you understand this trick, you might figure out some combination of it and the above solutions to provide the route you need. And maybe, just maybe the solution involves adding a quick ployline or fill or in a variant of the Diamond of Laziness. Because after all, model right then decide what needs to be done to fix the 2D, if fixing needs to occur.

If you find a situation where either 2D or 3D can be perfect, but not both, always pick 3D

Is hiding a door on a plan the right thing to do? Maybe not. Maybe there’s a different graphic fix that needs to happen: like acknowledging the existence of the opening, or having a slightly less pretty or pure plan. But if the hole is inconsequential to the work, it might just need to be hidden from plan but still need to be seen for clarity in an interior elevation or for the model walk through (you are doing model walk throughs for every project, right?). I don’t know, maybe I’m crazy. If you DO think I’m crazy, hopefully you’ve at least gotten a glimpse into the problem solving process I go through when faced with a finicky graph complication.

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  1. Nathan Hildebrandt

    Another trick is to use model view options. This will not work if you want all doors / windows to be hidden we use this for site plans with external walls shown without door and windows. Otherwise your last option would be my other option.

  2. Stuart Clark

    There is a 3rd way… But again it’s a bit of a sledgehammer solution…
    Duplicate the renovation filter – use one for 2D and the other for 3d and scheduling…
    Place the door and have it only appear on the latter using the renovation pallet…
    His trick can also be used for separating notes on different types of issue without ending up with a massive list of layers

  3. Jared Banks

    Great solutions. Yeah the MVO route for site plans is great and I have a post brewing about how to use Model View Options to turn any plan or section into a schematic view. I’ll try to get that out (post or video) the first week or two of February.

  4. Srinivas

    Instead we turn off the 2d Detail Level to “Off” from Options. or am I missing anything here?


  5. Jared Banks

    Turning the 2D Detail Level to “Off” is a great solution and I should have mentioned that option in the post. So there are two ways to making empty openings via objects: the simple empty opening (which is what you get if you click the empty opening button on any door) and the 6 options listed under Openings in the door tool, such as Rectangular Door Opening 17. If you use the simple empty opening then there is no 2D Detail Level option. BUT…if you use one of the six Door Opening 17 options, then yes you can turn the 2D Detail Level to “Off”. Which is obviously the correct solution!

    Thank you so much for pointing that out. I think the above post has value as a thought exercise, but you are absolutely right, the solution is to use one of the better Objects. And it’s also worth pointing out that all door and window Objects (other than simple empty opening) can have their 2D symbol turned off.

    This all makes me wonder: why do we have the simple empty opening object? And why doesn’t it have all the options of 2D symbol control?

  6. Karoly

    Hi guys, Let me add a little twist to the topic:
    How about trying to create a good structural 3D? In this view you would not need the doors / windows in 3D, except the hole in the wall. So far I was only able to do this with Cadimage doors / windows, for they have their own MVO, where you can turn the 3D of doors/windows off. For AC 18 we decided not to use any 3rd party add-ons… So is there any way to not show doors windows in out of the box AC 3D? I tried MVO, PSD, Reno… no luck. Maybe it is not so important?

    • Jared Banks

      I’ve got your answer! And I’m surprised I didn’t mention it in this post:

      1) View Menu
      2) Elements in 3D View
      3) Filter and Cut Elements in 3D

      From the resulting dialog box you can choose which element types you want to show or hide. So you can turn off doors, windows, whatever you want. There are a couple of other options as well. I guess it’s time to write about it!

      Expect a proper blog post about it in late September or early October!


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