In alphabetical order are brief descriptions of some of the systems on the South African market available to architectural and design practices to keep them up to date.


ArchiCAD is premier Building Information Modelling (BIM) software by Graphisoft of Hungary with a full series of interactive training materials available for architects and designers. allows anyone that has been working with previous versions of ArchiCAD, whether as a professional user or as a student, to download the latest version to analyse the system before upgrading to find the latest features and productivity improvements.

Several free software downloads are available, including ArchiCAD Graphisoft’s 3D architectural design software with the Graphisoft BIM Server application for model-based team collaboration.

An entire set of add-on software tools extends ArchiCAD’s design capabilities from validating the sustainability of designs to creating and presenting the design’s virtual imagery. Last year, ArchiCAD 16 was introduced to the South African market and neighbouring countries.


Autodesk consists of a range of architectural and construction software programmes including AutoCAD and Autodesk Revit. The latter software allows the development of higher-quality, more accurate architectural designs using tools specifically built to support Building Modelling Information, where designers and architects can capture and analyse concepts and maintain their vision through design, documentation, and construction.

There are two products available for architectural design: Autodesk Revit 2013, a comprehensive solution containing the functionality of Autodesk RevitArchitect 2013, Autodesk Revit MEP 2013 and Autodesk Revit Structure 2013 software available in the Autodesk Building Design Suite Premium and Ultimate Editions, and Autodesk RevitArchitecture 2013, a stand-alone application.

Autodesk Revit and RevitArchitecture software offers a variety of visualisation enhancements to provide more control over the appearance of the project within the software. A new ray tracing feature offers interactive real-time rendering and enables the rendering of Rich Photorealistic Content (RPC) in viewport.

Revit also offers enhancements to dimensioning capabilities. A diameter dimension tool enables an individual segment in a multi-segment dimension chain to be selected and deleted. In addition, dimension instances can display the segment equality text, or the equality formula string.


AutoSpec has online app, online quoting and product visualisation that links the specifier to the manufacturer. The world of technology-on-the-go is an important aspect of today’s specification process, with information being quickly and easily accessed is a main requirement in the industry, and to this extent AutoSpec is in the forefront and much favoured by specifiers.

NDTec’s initial QSPlus software product was originally developed for quantity surveyors by quantity surveyors. NDTec then developed a new product, Quantity Surveyors Product Libraries (QPL), which was distributed to quantity surveyors to provide them with fully developed bills of quantities, subheadings and descriptions for various manufacturers’ products.

This product gave way to AutoSpec, a system which allows specifications to be assembled through PowerSpec, the intelligent engine which, by asking pertinent questions, will create a “fit-for-purpose” specification and include it in a specification document with the relevant master specification clauses.

As a result, AutoSpec, a division of New Dimension Technology (NDTec) has been developing and marketing software products to construction professionals in the Southern African building industry since 1996, and was a natural progression from AutoSpec Professional which has been used by professional architects as a product database and specification writing tool since 2001 – built on the same technology as AutoSpec Professional but with a greater emphasis on modern design.

Being PC- or server-based, it is fast but updates itself daily over the internet using AutoSpec’s proprietary NetSync system. It allows the user to view and compare products and their prices, view datasheets and open CAD drawings.

A major benefit is that while products are being selected it writes a manufacturer-warranted specification for the user which can then be incorporated into schedules, project specifications or copied to another system, and it enables specifiers to view, compare and specify thousands of building products using one source without leaving their desks.

AutoSpec also provides CAD drawings, gives pricing guidance on selected products, generates Door, Window, Finishes and Sanitaryware schedules, and supplies manufacturers’ datasheets and contact details.

ecospecifier South Africa

This is an online database of lifecycle-assessed, eco- and health-preferable products, materials and technologies for the built environment that has been developed for the construction sector to provide information on how to design and deliver buildings, interiors and surrounds using environmentally preferable products.

The aim of ecospecifier SA is to help building professionals to shorten the sourcing process for this information, and to help in creating a more sustainable physical environment by increasing the use of environmentally preferable and healthy products, materials and design processes.

This assists anyone who wants to save energy and water, to use resources sustainably, to minimise pollution and ecological footprint, and to reduce negative human health impacts.

ecospecifier does this by providing clarity about what is and what is not ‘green’; enabling easier identification, specification or location of eco- and health-preferred products; facilitating greater understanding of the issues surrounding eco-products; and providing clear, independently assessed and unbiased information.

The sophisticated multi-criteria product search functions allow access to a database of independently vetted eco- and health-preferable products in nearly 80 common industry categories and 550 sub-categories.

A selection of informative and useful downloads from green design tools to eco-footprint calculators and LCA software tools is also provided.

NBS Construction Knowledge South Africa

NBS Construction Knowledge is for architects, quantity surveyors, engineers, planners and contractors, providing essential reference to those designing, specifying or constructing buildings or checking quality compliance.

NBS Construction Knowledge provides instant online access to a managed collection of hundreds of construction-related South African Standards. It is provided by National Specifications (Pty) Ltd and the South African Bureau of Standards and supplies relevant, up-to-date technical information at a reasonable price.

The benefits of NBS Construction Knowledge include instant access to relevant information as and when required; access to hundreds of standards kept up to date with new and revised publications; relevant document selection reflecting modern building techniques, technologies and initiatives; current document information updated regularly; timesaving with fast and efficient easy-to-use search tools; and cost-effective annual subscription fees.

Social media Finally, if you aren’t using social media yet, you’re missing out on a vast, untapped group of potential customers. Read all about it in our article on Social Media in this issue.