COBie 2.4, BS 1192-4:2014 and ARCHICAD 18/19 – Part 2: Space and Zone


This is the second in a series of posts about COBie 2.4, BS 1192-4:2014 and ARCHICAD. In the last post we looked at Instruction, Contact, Facility and Floor requirements of COBie and BS 1192-4. In this post we will look at Space and Zone information.


Within ARCHICAD we create Spaces with the Zone Tool. This is something that again most ARCHICAD users should be familiar with, although they are probably used to calling them Zones. This change in terminology is important as there are both Spaces and Zones within IFC and COBie. The most important thing to note is that all Spaces (I refer to these as Spaces to users which will take time to get used to them for them but this is is important) need to be modelled with correct area (Gross Area and Net Area) and height (the minimum Usable Height of the space), need to have a boundary and must each have a unique Space number. The boundary can be created with both 3-dimensional and 2-dimensional elements.

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 17.47.06

Image: 3-dimensional representation of Spaces in GRAPHISOFT ARCHICAD 19

We need to model all spaces that require preventative maintenance access from. So we don’t need to model ceiling voids and spaces under raised access floors as these will be accessed from the space below or above respectively. Also remember that double height spaces need to be modelled. Note: You will find that Solibri Model Checker will fail rules because of this as it expects a Space at each floor level. These can be accepted if double height spaces exist.

During the design phases the user needs to input 3 fields of data per Space. These are Space No. (Name), Space Name (Description) and Space Classification (Category). One final piece of data – Room Tag is required for handover but this is something that can be added towards the end of the project as this is the client’s final agreed Space/Room number. This means that Space numbering during the design and construction is less important for handover.

COBie Spaces

Image: COBie 2.4 Space information displayed in the IFC Manager in GRAPHISOFT ARCHICAD 19

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 17.51.05

Image: COBie 2.4 Space information displayed in Interactive Schedules in GRAPHISOFT ARCHICAD 19 – note that the Category is split in ARCHICAD into the reference code and a description. These are combined in the final COBie output to create the Category field.

Solibri Spaces

Image: COBie 2.4 Space information displayed in 3D and using the COBie resources in Solibri Model Checker v9.5

BS 1192-4:2014 additional attributes/parameters

BS 1192-4:2014 also identifies a number of other fields required to be incorporated into Spaces. This additional data will populate in the Attribute data rather than in the Space workbook. The additional fields for both internal and external Spaces (identified in Table 11) are: Capacity, GrossPerimeter, InteriorOrExteriorSpace, NetPerimeter, OccupancyNumber and Utilization.

For internal Spaces only (identified in Table 12) the following are also recommended additional attributes: CeilingCovering, FloorCovering, Concealed, FinishCeilingHeight, FinishFloorHeight, GrossCeilingArea, GrossVolume, GrossWallArea, NetCeilingArea, NetVolume, NetWallArea and WallCovering.

Many of these fields are created from the geometry so whilst the number of fields of data looks daunting its not as long a list as might first appear. Much of this additional data will form the basis for architectural Room Data Sheets/Schedules (RDS). Much of this information can be used to provide information for early cost analysis and the Spaces can also ultimately be used for other outputs such as environmental analysis.

Tip: Spaces can in some cases be created as Favorites with predefined Classification meaning less room for error by the user.

Space workflow issues in ARCHICAD

One weakness of the current workflow are that the Space colour for 2D and 3D are not linked or a single workflow. This can lead to differences between 2D and 3D documentation and how the model is displayed in IFC viewers. This needs extra care from users but ultimately GRAPHISOFT need to improve this workflow by creating a link between the 2D and 3D outputs to eliminate the possibilities for error.


Zones are described by BS 1192-4:2014 as a “named set of Spaces (locations) sharing a specific Attribute, such as activity, access, management or conditioning”.

The first thing we need to understand about Zones is that they are not modelled. As mentioned above don’t confuse this with the Zone Tool (which should really be called the Space Tool!). Zones are essentially a collection of related Spaces. Each Zone requires a minimum of 2 fields of data – Zone Name (Name) and Zone Classification (Category). In addition the Description field is required if specified by the client.

Every Space should be assigned to at least one Zone and every Zone should have at least one Space.

The Zone Classification part for architects is split into 2 – Occupancy Zones and Circulation Zones. Other types of Zone Classification exist for Lighting Zones, Fire Alarm Zones, Historical Preservation Zones and Ventilation Zones. Classifications are chosen by selecting ‘Apply Predefined Rule…’, selecting the ‘COBie Floor and Zone Categories’ rules and then finally the required classification.

Zone Predefined Rules

Image: Zone Predefined Ruleset in GRAPHISOFT ARCHICAD 19

Zones can only be created within the IFC Manager and involve dragging the required Spaces into the appropriate Zones. See Graphisoft’s guides for more detail.

COBie Zones

Image: COBie 2.4 Zone information displayed in the IFC Manager in GRAPHISOFT ARCHICAD 19

ARCHICAD Zone Schedule

Image: COBie 2.4 Zone information displayed in Interactive Schedules in GRAPHISOFT ARCHICAD 19

Solibri Zones

Image: COBie 2.4 Zone information displayed in 3D and using the COBie resources in Solibri Model Checker v9.5

There are no other additional data requirements for Zones identified in BS 1192-4:2014.

Zone workflow issues in ARCHICAD

Whilst the principles of Zones is straightforward there is a small amount of additional work for the user. I believe that the workflow in this area could be improved by GRAPHISOFT. Dragging and dropping the Spaces into Zones is fine but there are a few issues with this workflow that users need to be aware of.

Firstly it is difficult to see in the IFC Manager interface if you have forgotten to drag a specific Space into a Zone. Its easily done even when being careful. You can use the Interactive Schedule to review Spaces have been allocated to Zones but it does add a little more to the workflow than is needed.

Also if the design changes and you have already allocated a Space to a Zone you may need to move the Space to a different Floor (IfcBuildingStorey) and if you cut and paste the relationship is lost.

I’d also suggest that in many instances the Zoning is known even when placing Spaces. For example we already know which Spaces will be in the Circulation Zone. Being able to store Zone data in the Space in a Favorite (or in the Zone Stamp settings) for example would mean less work for users and ensure greater consistency for projects.

Zone Type can be scheduled but not the Name and Description fields.

Conclusion (Space and Zone)

So like the previous post much of this is not difficult. At the moment we are asking users to make sure their Space information for COBie is correct and our rule based checking is aligned with this. Zones are at present are largely optional although we encourage users to complete this wherever possible.

So if you combine the requirements of the previous post with this post you would have all the spatial information complete for a COBie output and a well structured IFC file.

In the third post on COBie 2.4, BS 1192-4:2014 and ARCHICAD 18/19 we will look at Components.

Rob Jackson, Associate Director, Bond Bryan Architects


One thought on “COBie 2.4, BS 1192-4:2014 and ARCHICAD 18/19 – Part 2: Space and Zone

  1. For years now I have some considarations about zones in Archicad and how zones are handled and how they affect modeling and design in Archicad. Also the way the whole thing is setup it affects documentation and design freedom.
    What I want to point out is in few words is firstly the multibuilding site and secondly single buildings (mostly residential) with intermediate floors (to understand what I mean try to picture a two story 6m tall building with another floor-space on the side of it that starts at 1.5m and ends at 4.5m). Now making this more complicated lets add three of these on the same site that has some inclination too and all buildings have different base levels.

    I know that there are work arounds about using each building as a module etc.

    But I think that redesigning the navigator of archicad would acomodate all these flaws, and would open new horizons in the use of the software too.

    With plans, sections and elevations we are trying to depict what?
    objects or space?

    what ever it is an object, an assembly, a zone, a story, a building, a site, etc it belongs to a space or takes some space or defines a space.

    I believe that the model manager should be just a spatial organizer where you could define spatial hierarchy.

    now from each space you could ask to get sections elevations and plans.

    Also for each space you would be able to count objects and quantities of materials. You would be able to count the quantities of the secluded spaces also. Say an appartment has a number of quantities, a story has all the appartments plus circulation, a building all stories and vertical circulation or whatever…

    About plan Views?
    You could define cutting planes related to the specific spaces and choose if you want to show adjacent spaces or infinite bounds or just the bounds of the selected space.

    That wouldn’t change the layout book neither the publisher

    I would just have this model manager and a group manager to group zones with common characteristics.

    This approach would really free up design and Open horizons to GIS or planning directions also.

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