Established in 2018 and based in Northumberland, THAA Architects specialises in bespoke residential properties, historic property conversions and one-off commercial projects.
David Thompson, Director at THAA Architects, explained that the studio wanted to explore BIM and see what software was available. The studio understood that they would need to embrace BIM from a commercial perspective, or they may be left behind.
“We had some experience of Revit, but after reading reviews of Archicad from other users, we understood that Archicad was more of an intuitive package than its competitors.” – David Thompson
David mentions that they were also very tempted by the offer of an extended free trial as it gave them the ideal opportunity to properly try Archicad.
Learning to use Archicad
Despite having previous exposure to Archicad in a previous studio, this is the first time that THAA Architects have used the software. David has 20 years’ experience in commercial practice and in a previous role he recalls a long debate about the merits of Archicad vs Revit.
“The consensus was that Revit is very labour intensive and Archicad is more intuitive. Now that we’ve been using it for six months, I feel that Archicad is more geared towards designers.” – David Thompson
Jason Spiller, Technologist at THAA Architects, says that he hadn’t used Archicad at all before the trial, but found it much easier to use than programmes like Revit.
Jason explains that the studio were previously using a combination of Autocad and Sketchup, with Enscape for rendering. But with Archicad, the studio can do everything in one place.
Graphisoft’s technical support team in Nottingham have been a great help for the studio, especially when learning to do complex tasks.
“Revit directs people to a website – but with Archicad – we have access to excellent support directly from the team.” – David Thompson
David explains that as a small business and as they are so busy, it’s important to have good support. “If we have a question, we need to get it sorted quickly.”
THAA Architects’ current projects
Jason says that the studio has used Archicad for two residential projects so far which they’ve designed from scratch. One was a straightforward newbuild, and the other was a church conversion.
Jason goes on to say that when designing the newbuild, it went fairly quickly due to all the walls being straight. For the church conversion – the ability to be able to sketch freehand in Archicad was really helpful for the studio – it made it very straightforward.
David explains that other projects that THAA Architects are working on had been started before they implemented Archicad. The studio work on a number of projects that are ‘grand designs’ in rural locations. Once they enter the production phase of the project, the studio often remodel the whole building again, just to ensure they don’t compound any errors.
For some of those existing projects, the studio will implement Archicad at that stage, as Archicad allows them to produce much more in terms of outputs for the next phases as the projects move towards construction.
Archicad’s impact on THAA Architects
Jason states that using Archicad will speed up processes and save time. At the moment, the studio design in Autocad and Sketchup, drawing the building twice. With Archicad, THAA Architects use just one software package for everything and model the building just once. When they model in 3D in Archicad, they can instantly get the 2D information directly from the model.
David says that as the business grows and the team work on larger projects over longer periods of time, the ability to use BIM will integrate with various other elements of the project, and enable the studio to share files and work more easily with different consultants and contractors throughout the projects.
He goes on to say that as the design and drawing elements can be integrated by the Quantity Surveyors when completing pricing documents, it should be much more straightforward.
Moreover, there are now many more BIM-savvy graduates coming out of college/university. THAA Architects want to attract new talent, and it’s important that they are seen as a modern practice that has embraced new technologies.
THAA Architects’ favourite Archicad features
Jason enjoys the ability to sketch in Archicad, as it is incredibly useful for fluid modelling and is a huge bonus for the studio, particularly for work on historic buildings.
David is impressed with the fact that Archicad integrates with 3rd party rendering engines and also finds BIMstore helpful. He notes that the flexible licensing options and price are very attractive.
“We’ve only recently learned that Graphisoft is a European headquartered business. It’s exciting to see that the company is continuing to invest in Archicad and is pushing the boundaries of BIM software. And it’s reassuring to know that the software will continue to be developed and improved.
Overall, our experience of using Archicad has been really good. The technical support has been fantastic and the software is great.” – David Thompson
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