Public urban spaces are at the heart of a city’s architecture. In an effort to fully understand what makes them valuable and unique, Sophie Wolfrum’s SQUARES: Urban Spaces in Europe explores the architecture of 70 European cities including Barcelona, Berlin, Florence, London, Munich, Paris, Rome, Vienna, and Warsaw. The designs of the squares in these historic cities are frequently discussed among architects and city planners, and SQUARES serves as a one-stop reference for analyzing and comparing these and other metropolitan spaces.

Platzatlas1_614The text, funded in part by a Vectorworks Academic Research Grant, is one of the only reference works of its kind. Each of the 70 locations presented methodically in site plan, ground plan, sections, and axonometric views uses drawings created in Vectorworks software. In each set of drawings, Wolfrum explores shape, position, and the size of structures in the urban spaces. Her research approaches each square from a design standpoint and contextualizes her findings in terms of that space’s political and historical impact, as well as how the materials used contribute to each city’s distinctive character. SQUARES is therefore a comprehensive, comparative work on urban typologies, providing a unique tool for architects, open space planners, and design students.

A professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the Technical University Munich, Wolfrum says her work fills a void in the knowledge of urban planners in the Google Maps era. “Drawings offer a different approach to the architecture of a square than an aerial photo,” Wolfrum explains. “Both as abstractions and as interpretations, the different modes of drawing provide differentiated information; at the same time, they invite one to think for oneself. The act of drawing itself is the best training for a designer—but the reading of the drawings encourages the active reenactment of the architectonic structure.”

SQUARES LARGEVectorworks Academic Research Grants are awarded to projects that encourage, preserve, and communicate the best approaches to facing global design issues. If you’re working on a project that positively impacts a community, please apply. And if you’re looking for an example of what you can do with a grant, Wolfrum’s book is available for purchase from the Amazon marketplace.

February may have the fewest days of any month, but that doesn’t mean we’re giving you any fewer tips to make the most of your Vectorworks software.

This first video teaches you how to decrease your rendering time when designing with fluorescent lighting. Instead of using the traditional line or area lights, you can get the same visual effect by applying a glow texture to surface objects.

Next, learn how to adjust the reflectivity of plant surfaces to give your trees and shrubs a realistic look from both up close and from a distance.

And remember to contact or reach out to @VectorworksHelp on Twitter with all of your technical concerns, and subscribe to our Youtube channel for more videos like these.

Ghent, Belgium is undergoing a transformative, urban regeneration, and the team tasked with making this dream a reality includes Vectorworks users Atelier Kempe ThillCOUSSEE & GORIS architectenRobbrecht & Daem architecten, and Marie-José Van Hee architecten. Designers and architects are collaborating to provide a sustainable urban mobility plan for Ghent that features green spaces and waterfronts, upscale residential housing, retail capacity, and innovative workspaces. Their aim is to transition this centuries-old urban center into a “smart” city, providing modern amenities without losing historical authenticity.

The plan for Ghent’s rejuvenation is so comprehensive that it has earned the participating firms a nomination for a MIPIM Award in the Best Urban Regeneration Project category. Created in 1991, the MIPIM Awards is an international real estate competition that honors the most outstanding and accomplished projects from around the world. Judged by an esteemed panel of real estate professionals, this years’ awards ceremony will be held at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France from March 10-13. Good luck to the designers involved with this project, as well as all the other MIPIM Award nominees!

You can learn more about the Market Hall Ghent project, a part of the rejuvenation efforts in the city, on page six of MODUS News 3, a magazine that pays tribute to designers who are transforming the world by creating unforgettable experiences with Vectorworks software.

Integrating audiovisual, IT, and other connected systems into your designs requires careful planning and management of various components, cables, and connectors. So when it comes to projects that involve complex installations, visualizing and adapting to changes in project specifications can be tricky and time consuming. That’s where connectCAD can help. With the new 2015 version of this plug-in, Vectorworks software users can easily and efficiently link schematic drawings with physical layout drawings, keeping all components labeled and listed in an integrated design package that adapts to real-world changes as your project progresses.

Check out this video to learn about some of the new features in connectCAD 2015, including advanced labeling and numbering features, a new device builder, signal flow visualization, and a built-in, accessible support site.


The connectCAD plug-in comes with two years of comprehensive support and upgrades. For more information about the connectCAD plug-in for Vectorworks software, visit our Partner Products page.

By Dr. Takeshi Kimura, Manager of Research and Development, A&A Co. Ltd.

While originally used with Vectorworks software to understand crowd behavior during building evacuations, SimTread is now proving its capabilities as a tool for simulating whole city evacuations during natural disasters like tsunamis and the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011.

Dr. Yoshiyuki Yoshida, who started the research and development of SimTread at Takenaka Corporation in collaboration with Waseda University, was the first person to apply the software for urban scale simulation. After this initial discovery, the SimTread research team has been experimenting with how the software can foster the design of safer cities. One result of these efforts is the Nigechizu Project, a volunteer program that works with communities to create evacuation maps of towns based on the effects of previous tsunamis and the time it takes people to move to safer places.

Also, the Journal of Disaster Research issued a special edition in September 2014 dedicated to the Great East Japan Earthquake, to which Yoshida, other SimTread researchers, and I contributed the results of our studies. This paper includes a detailed description about SimTread, beginning with its original conception to its validation results, as well as a proposed new methodology for understanding how to design a city that can be safely evacuated. This new methodology outlines the framework for how long a given person would take to reach a safe place and allows for adjustments based on things like age and crowd density. Also, the map informs which part of the city needs additional escape routes or emergency shelter capacity.

The map was drawn with Vectorworks software because of its flexibility and presentation capabilities. A simple VectorScript program read the file of the simulation result and created circles at the origin points for each of the 12,034 people with records attached indicating how long it took them to evacuate. The circles are colored with the “Modify By Record” command, which turned the tedious task of organizing the data into a creative work for presentation.

Some of the features that emerged during this research study have already been implemented in the software, and some are still to come. As Vectorworks 2015 software became 64-bit, so too did SimTread, which is now capable of calculating larger areas, further extending its original functionality from performing crowd simulation and traffic flow for interiors to simulating the evacuation of an entire city. We can’t wait to see more architects and city planners enlightening their designs by studying human behavior with SimTread.

Over 31,000 architects from around the world made their voices heard during ArchDaily’s 2015 Building of the Year Awards, a peer-based, crowd-sourced program where designers choose their favorite structures from the thousands featured on the ArchDaily website. We’re happy to announce that the Portuguese firm spaceworkers was selected as a winner in the housing category for their design: Sambade House.

© Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

Chosen for its beauty and intelligence, Sambade House is a 1,177-square-meter home in Penafiel, Portugal designed to create a contemporary space that doesn’t disturb its peaceful, natural surroundings. The firm describes the building as “a pure volume, adjusted to the ground and opening into the green landscape. The volumetric purity sets the mood for the project and perfectly balances with the terraced fields. Thus, the act of inhabiting unfolds through the volume of concrete, pure, raw, adjusted to the ground, just waiting to grow old as the days go by … reflecting the life of the countryside.”

© Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

Sambade House exemplifies spaceworkers’ mission to create a horizontal approach to design that combines architecture, economics, and furniture, while instilling their work with touches of innovation and sensory excitement. Using Vectorworks software, the firm appeals to their clients’ sensibilities by utilizing space as an instrument of communication, planning, and interacting, designing buildings that avoid the obvious and allow form to follow emotion.

Congratulations to spaceworkers! And don’t forget to check out the other winners from the Building of the Year Awards.

Whether you’re new to Vectorworks software or you’re an experienced user, getting a firm grasp of the basics is essential to maintaining and improving your skills as a designer. That’s why we’re excited to release the Vectorworks Essentials Tutorial Manual. Written by expert Vectorworks trainer Jonathan Pickup, this seventh edition of the guide explores core concepts and recent advancements in Vectorworks 2015.

“Jonathan’s teaching methods, as typified in his Essentials Tutorial Manual, are superb, and his manner of explaining techniques, tasks, and tools is wonderfully clear, concise, and well illustrated,” says Neil Barman, Intern Architect, AIBC LEED AP. “Following along with the lessons in the manual guided me to build up my Vectorworks skills with ease. This manual is perhaps the single best resource available for developing a solid foundation with the application.”

Pickup’s manual guides readers through three easy steps: read a text section, watch a video, and try a tutorial. Each section builds upon the one before it, meaning readers experience the benefits of starting from the basics and gradually increasing the complexity of their training, Pickup says.

The Vectorworks Essentials Tutorial Manual covers everything from the Vectorworks software interface and basic tool options to creating worksheets and drawing with objects rather than lines and arcs. The tutorial comes in both imperial and metric versions and can operate on either Windows or Mac operating systems.

To buy your copy of the tutorial manual, visit the Vectorworks Training Guides page.

From the Pyramids at Giza to the Eiffel Tower, architects have always strived to make their mark on the world. And as the technological ability of these designers has increased, so too has the scale of the architecture that they leave behind. However, this presents a unique problem: If every architect is working to create distinctive structures, what makes a building truly iconic?

Learn some answers in Nemetschek Vectorworks’ Art in Architecture webinar, as we explore “Small Iconic Architecture.” Listen in as architect Steve Alden, AIA, and Rubina Siddiqui, NOMA, Assoc. AIA, explore what it means to be iconic, the creative processes and works of some of today’s iconic architects, and how design software facilitates their processes.

Once you’re finished watching the webinar, be sure to take the associated Continuing Education quiz to earn 1 AIA LU.

Ilianna H. Kwaske, Ph.D., Managing Principal, Office Ron Kwaske, Architect

Since our last update, Office Ron Kwaske, Architect has continued to discover and make tremendous use of Vectorworks 2015. One tool that excites us right now is the Curtain Wall tool, which treats the curtain wall as a wall-type.

Before this tool’s existence, we created curtain walls by extruding rectangles in place. If the design direction changed or there was a problem, our work was wasted because we had to rebuild the curtain wall in the model. The design process was never really dynamic, and much of the design was worked out two-dimensionally either in Vectorworks or by hand-sketching over printed perspectives.

Now, the Curtain Wall tool allows for dynamic design. We have absolute design control without blocking the creative process. To create a curtain wall, we simply select the wall type and specify parameters (i.e., height, frame, and pane size, spacing, etc.). It’s as easy as making a wall in that you draw from one point to another, and there it is. If you would like a door, you simply add the door into the curtain wall, and it is recognized as a door. Or, you can select the Curtain Wall Door option on the object info palette, which fixes the door inside the panel. From there, studying the curtain wall is easy and making changes near instantaneous, which is critical in our world.

Currently, Office Ron Kwaske, Architect has two projects in which glass is a significant feature: a commercial seven-story building and a small custom home. Rather than just do another box with glass on it, we are trying to look at these structures differently to do something extraordinary.

The commercial project consists of a ground-up seven story building on a busy Chicago street. The curtain wall is one of the building’s most visually significant features. Because the Curtain Wall tool gave us absolute control over things like frame location, spacing, and size, we began to visualize the glass as a tapestry that interacts with the other materials of the building, along with the environment. A lone tree and a lamppost in front of the building are important environmental objects when you consider how the building will be viewed as part of the streetscape. We constantly rendered the model in open GL with the Heliodon tool to look at how the mullions could be spaced to enhance its aesthetic via the shadows. This gave us a more realistic view of what could be happening, and we began to look at the movement of a frame in relationship to the movement of pixels in our design world. Again, if changes need to be made to the model, they can be made quickly and easily.

Our other project is a small custom home in which the client sought a significant glass component. We had to use both glass and frames sparingly to accommodate the budget. Considerations were made for how the glass and building materials interact with the natural environment. Frame spacing proved to be absolutely critical. The lot, being extremely dense and wooded, will create an interesting randomness in the foreground during the winter months. Contrasting a rational, proportionately spaced frame against the chaos of nature’s tree limbs proved more art than architecture. Furthermore, because the entire façade is not glass, we paid great attention to the locations of frames and intersections of storefront frames to walls.

Office Ron Kwaske, Architect finds the Curtain Wall tool to be user-friendly, fast, and capable of helping us better study the 3D models of our projects. We can adapt our designs easily and quickly. It is just one more feature, characteristic of Vectorworks software, that enhances our ability to do a great job for our clients.

For more information about the Curtain Wall tool, check out the Vectorworks Getting Started Guides.




While great architecture comes from the minds of visionary designers, outside factors can also influence the creative processes – especially in a country caught amid two hundred years of massive social, political, and economic upheaval. That’s why the next installment of the Art in Architecture Continuing Education webinar series, “Four French Architects You Should Know – Eiffel, Prouvé, Perrault, and Ricciotti,” explores not only on these designers’ works, but also how the world around them influenced their most iconic structures. Cultural roots, the works of their predecessors, emerging technologies, and social challenges all impact the structures that Eiffel, Prouvé, Perrault, and Ricciotti have designed, shaping the France that we know today.

To fully explore the work of these four French designers, watch the Art in Architecture webinar. And don’t forget to take the associated quiz to earn 1 AIA LU.