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Building and site model file setup

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Hello Vectorworks boffins!

With the new project sharing features of Vectorworks 2016 I have been rethinking how files are setup. I am wondering if there is a general consensus on how people structure projects. I also realise there may be differences between smaller projects (e.g. single residential), and large projects and those on big sites.

Some background — our projects are mostly medium sized commercial, education and interiors.

Okay now onto setup. in the past I have recommended;

-Keeping the building file separate to the site, survey and associated works file.

-The building file to use storeys and set story level relative to a ground level of 0.000 (not a real reduced level).

-Referencing the building into the site file, and raising, and rotating the building into it’s correct position on site.

The reasons for doing this are;

-When you use real levels for building file storeys, the building can be a huge distance in the air, and can be problematic rotating in 3D.

-Working at angles is not as easy as working perpendicular to the page (obviously if a building has unusual geometry then this can not be helped).

-If you have more than one building on a site, this is a way to assign each building within a project team.

-I like to keep the survey as the master location for the file. While I could rotate the survey, with geo-surveys each team member should overlay the survey master. Additionally, a survey can be updated a number of times over a project, and it is far easier to be able to bring it into the correct location each time.

-When exporting out IFC, I will export the model out of the site file, so that the building and the site are exported out in their real position.

-References can be stripped out if necessary to keep building files smaller.

-Separating the bustling and site drawings also partly protects against file corruption. If one file goes bad, you don’t loose it all.

The problems with doing this are;

-Editing site information and building plans at the same time is frustrating, and takes time when switching between files.

Should I be;

-Keeping it all within the one file?

-Drawing the plans in their real location, and just put up with the frustrations of rotating plans and 3D views being way off screen?

I hope that was clear. Thank you in advance for your thoughts.…

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I pretty much do as you do with xref survey and have done this with separate buildings with design layer viewports.

But I always use real levels as when I build my site model and the house model it all sits perfectly together, no adjusting things by maths calculations. Yes its way up in space but my model is always in the centre of the screen and when you rotate make sure you have "interactive origin mode" selected in the options top left of screen, that way the object will rotate around the point you click on screen and I usually click on the model.


Edited by Alan Woodwell

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At present, I use all real world elevations and I keep site and building in one file.

My projects are mainly small alterations and additions.

Nemetschek should have a close look at improving the 3D experience by allowing us to set a 3D zoom level so that whenever we switch to a 3D view we don't need to scroll through the globe to get to the model.

I use a saved view presently as a 3D zoom level and use the interactive origin mode to then rotate.


I also use saved views to create a view of the building sans site model so I can work on the building as if it were in a separate file.

Edited by Kizza

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Hi Gents,

Thank you for your input. I expected this would be the case when dealing with single residential projects. Although I am still in favour of my method.

Also for your single residential, I would still recommend you keeping your site survey, model and landscape separate as the rubbish that can come in with DWG surveys can cause problems, unless you are doing something clever there. (I realise you can use a DWG shuttle file for the survey, but how are you getting the 3D geometry into your file to create the Terrain Model? I generally like to clean up survey info up anyway as I need to use much of it for landscaping, and terrain model pads and texture beds.)

Yes, the 'interactive origin mode', or rotate around selection is what I commonly use. And the saved views are also a great way to manage the view shift.

Am keen to know what those working on larger projects are doing.

Thanks again.

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I do as you do, clean up the survey file, adjust lineweights (if needed) compose polys etc. I then purge all unused classes, select all, put all survey data into one class and layer and that then becomes my "master" survey data. I end up with one layer and one class for the original survey data. I then copy and paste from this to my site proposed layers/classes as required to build my model.

It's brutal but it seems to work for my smaller projects.

I'd consider referencing in the site if it was a large project though...

Edited by Kizza

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