Filtering elements for IFC 2×3 export from ARCHICAD 18/19


There are a number of things to understand when exporting an IFC model. What is often misunderstood is that an IFC file is not simply one file. IFC files are exported for different purposes so when issuing an IFC file it is important to understand the purpose of the exchange. Once you understand the needs of the recipient you can begin to filter your model for different uses.

ARCHICAD has a number of ways of controlling the elements exported in an IFC file. In this post we look at the different ways to control the export of elements and also identify some limitations of the export settings.

The post is set out for both the benefit of ARCHICAD users but also those who receive ARCHICAD models so they can understand if they need to ask for a slightly different export.

1. Model filter before Save as – Layers

Most ARCHICAD users will be familiar with using Layers to switch elements on and off. This is the most basic way of filtering elements of a model for export.

2. Model filter before Save as – Layer combinations

Layer combinations are one step up from layers with users able to store a combination of the layers they wish to export. Layer combinations are a great way to create a series of filters for different exports.

For example we now have 6 standard layer combinations setup in our ARCHICAD 19 templates specifically for IFC export. These are:

  1. A-00-Model-Export-IFC-Coordination MVD-Building Only
  2. A-00-Model-Export-IFC-Coordination MVD-Moveable Furniture Only
  3. A-00-Model-Export-IFC-Coordination MVD-Site Only
  4. A-00-Model-Export-IFC-Coordination MVD-Structure (Concept Design) Only
  5. A-00-Model-Export-IFC-Basic FM Handover MVD-Building Only
  6. L-00-Model-Export-IFC-Coordination MVD-Landscape

Layer combinations can be used to create Viewsets and in turn set these up in the Publisher ensuring a consistent output each time.

3. Model filter before Save as – Renovation filter

Renovation filters allow elements to be filtered without the need for layers. Generally renovation filters are used in combination with layers and layer combinations.

Renovation filters generally are used in various combinations to filter Existing Elements, Elements to be Demolished and New Elements.

4. Model filter for export – Elements to export

The following options are available to control the export of elements:

  • Entire project – exports all elements irrespective of the selection in the model.
  • Visible elements (on all stories) – exports elements controlled by layers/layer combinations and the renovation filter.
  • All elements on current story – exports all elements on the selected floor irrespective of the selection in the model.
  • Visible elements on current story – exports elements controlled by layers/layer combinations and the renovation filter for a single floor.

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Image: Elements to export filter in ARCHICAD 19

5. Model filter for export – Model element selection

The options available here can control very specifically what will be exported.

The following options are available to control the export by model selection:

  • IFC Element Type – allows a user to select specific element types for export.

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Image: IFC Element Type filter in ARCHICAD 19

  • Story – allows a user to select specific floors for export.

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Image: Story filter in ARCHICAD 19

  • Layer – allows a user to select specific layers for export.

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Image: Layer filter in ARCHICAD 19

  • Element Owner – allows a user to select elements based on their ownership – designed for Teamworks/BIMcloud projects.

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Image: Element Owner filter in ARCHICAD 19

6. Model filter for export – By IFC Domain

The following options are available to control the export by IFC Domain:

  • All – selecting this option exports all elements (excludes IfcPort and IfcDistributionPort).
  • Structural – selecting this option exports only structural elements. This option includes the following elements: IfcBuildingElement, IfcBeam, IfcBuildingElementComponent, IfcBuildingElementPart, IfcReinforcingElement, IfcReinforcingBar, IfcReinforcingMesh, IfcTendon, IfcTendonAnchor, IfcBuildingElementProxy, IfcColumn, IfcCovering, IfcCurtainWall, IfcDoor, IfcFooting, IfcMember, IfcPile, IfcPlate, IfcRailing, IfcRamp, IfcRampFlight, IfcRoof, IfcSlab, IfcStair, IfcStairFlight, IfcWall, IfcWallStandardCase and IfcWindow.
  • MEP – selecting this option exports only mechanical, electrical and plumbing elements. This option includes the following elements: IfcDistributionElement, IfcDistributionControlElement, IfcDistributionFlowElement, IfcDistributionChamberElement, IfcEnergyConversionDevice, IfcFlowController, IfcElectricDistributionPoint, IfcFlowFitting, IfcFlowMovingDevice, IfcFlowSegment, IfcFlowStorageDevice, IfcFlowTerminal and IfcFlowTreatmentDevice.
  • Custom – selecting this option allows a user to configure which element types they wish to export.

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Image: IFC Domain filter in ARCHICAD 19

7. Model filter for export – By Structural Function

The following options are available to control the export by Structural Function:

  • All elements – selecting this option exports all elements.
  • Load-Bearing elements only – selecting this option exports only elements that have been defined as Load-Bearing elements within Tags & Categories.
  • Non-Load-Bearing elements only – selecting this option exports only elements that have been defined as Non-Load-Bearing elements within Tags & Categories.

This method relies heavily on model elements being correctly setup with the right settings. Whilst this is a very powerful function it is prone to user error and needs careful consideration if it is to be used.

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 16.30.21

Image: Structural Function filter in ARCHICAD 19

Limitations of ARCHICAD filtering for export

It is not currently possible to filter IfcTypeProduct information from an export. Note that IfcWallType (including IfcWall and IfcWallStandardCase) and IfcSpaceType should be excluded from a COBie export but this is not currently possible from ARCHICAD. This means these elements must be filtered by other software required to produce COBie.

It is also not possible to filter Walls (IfcWall and IfcWallStandardCase) from a model whilst still retaining Doors (IfcDoor) and Windows (IfcWindow) for export to COBie.


There are a lot of ways to control the export of elements from ARCHICAD and the export filters can be setup centrally as required. The main area that causes issues is with user error in terms of filtering models. We have set up standard layer combinations using standard layering as well as standard translators to make the process as consistent as possible.

We have tried to create a clear approach for users to make the errors as small as possible. Of course we are not perfect but we are moving towards a place where more and more users are comfortable with the process we are asking them to follow.

Of course creating high quality models is key and so we use Solibri Model Checker as a further check to review our models against set criteria.

Rob Jackson, Associate Director, Bond Bryan Digital


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