Graphisoft 2024 Innovate Event: Paris Olympics Athletes' Village, Toronto’s Pier 27, and Spain’s Morph Estudio

Graphisoft continued its 2024 series of Building Together events with an Innovate event held last month that was specifically focused on how architectural firms were making innovative use of its technologies for extending their design capabilities on many fronts, including parametric design, sustainable architecture, open collaboration, cloud platforms, and managing extremely large projects. These were demonstrated by the firms themselves, and the event featured a variety of fascinating case studies, starting with the Athletes' Village for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Kickoff to the world’s biggest sporting event is barely two weeks away, so it was doubly exciting to learn about a project that will be responsible for providing rest and relaxation to the athletes, as well as a space for them to recharge, as they go through the grueling schedule and competitions of the Games.

Paris Olympics Athletes' Village

The Athletes’ Village has been developed to accommodate 14,250 athletes during the Olympic Games, which start this month, and 8,000 during the Paralympic Games, which will be held two weeks after the Olympic Games are concluded. Located in the Seine-Saint-Denis district along the Seine river in Paris, it comprises 300,000 square meters of walkways, green spaces and buildings of different sizes to accommodate the athletes (Figure 1). When the Games are over, the development will be transformed into housing and offices that will host 6,000 residents and a further 6,000 workers. The design process for the Athletes’ Village commenced in early 2020, and it was inaugurated in February 2024, with the French President, Emmanuel Macron, in attendance (Figure 2).

Three French AEC firms, CoBe, Koz Architects, and Atelier George, who collaborated on the design and construction of the main residential area of the Athletes’ Village, Sector E, shared how they used Archicad on this design-build project. In additional to the usual design, documentation, and visualization implementations (Figure 3), the use of Archicad was especially significant in coordinating the work of the seven architectural firms who were involved in the project, four of which were using Archicad and the remaining Revit. The use of BIM was mandatory for the project, and Archicad’s OpenBIM approach enabled the required coordination of all the different models using IFC. The ease of visualization with BIMx was also invaluable in facilitating discussions and design decisions among all the collaborators, even those who were not using Archicad (Figure 4).

Archicad was also key to developing the design in parallel for its short-term use as the Athletes’ Village for the Games and for its long-term use as a residential and commercial neighborhood. For every building, two models had to be generated showing both phases, at every stage of the project. Archicad’s Renovation tool allowed this to be done much more easily, enabling the changes between the two stages to be quickly visualized without the need to create separate plans and superimpose them. The same base design could be used, and the design team could quickly move from one phase to another and work on the reversibility of each phase.  

Additional aspects of the design that Archicad helped with were sun studies, sustainability, the use of wood as the construction material, landscape design, and the urban planning of the entire project (Figure 5). Overall, the use of Archicad saved time, supported building more intelligently, and allowed any issues or problems to be foreseen and addressed in the design phase rather than have them emerge unexpectedly during construction.

Toronto's Pier 27

Pier 27 is an iconic residential development located along the waterfront of Lake Ontario in downtown Toronto, with luxury condominiums and penthouse-style suites offering stunning views of both the water and the sky (Figure 6). Designed by the Canadian firm, architectsAlliance, the project is being developed over four phases (Figure 7), of which three have been completed. Phases 1 and 2 consist of four rectilinear pier buildings arranged in pairs, each connected by a three-story cantilevered “bridge” that evokes the gantries used to load cargo on and off freighters in Toronto Harbour. Phase 3, recently completed, comprises a tower with rotating staggered floors, giving it a unique structural form and identity.

architectsAlliance has been using Archicad for over 20 years, and when the project commenced in 2006, the version that was used for it was Archicad 9. The firm was able to continue using Archicad on the project seamlessly through the different software versions and updates, the most recent one being Archicad 27. Archicad was used for all the phases of the project including the master plan, conceptual massing, building design, details, interior design, and construction drawings (Figure 8). Thanks to the software, the team was able to retain all the information from the initial files going back to when the project started in 2006, which has been invaluable.

For photorealistic visualizations, architectsAlliance has been using Artlantis to render the Archicad models. Figure 9 shows one of the early renderings of the project that was done in 2007 as well as a more recent rendering of the Phase 3 tower, shown alongside the actual constructed tower for comparison of the virtual model with the physical building.

Spain’s Morph Estudio

Morph Estudio is one of Spain’s largest architectural practices, known for its innovative designs and sculptural forms (Figure 10). Headquartered in Madrid, it was founded ten years ago and has grown to 170 architects and engineers, expanding beyond Spain five years ago with an office in the Caribbean and one in the Middle East. It has projects in several countries in the region and is aiming to expand to other counties in Europe like Germany and the UK as well in the US. One of its most significant achievements, so far, is that it has designed 7 of the 50 highest towers in Spain, some of which like the Ceiba project in Malaga are shown in Figure 10.

In a country where the average studio size is 3 to 5 people, Morph Estudio’s size of over 150 is not just an indicator of its success — it was ranked as among the top 100 architectural firms in the world by WA100 — it also provides the firm with the ability to have an extensive software infrastructure and specialists in many subjects inhouse to work on its projects. This also means that the firm uses multiple software applications in its work including Archicad, Revit, Solibri, Rhino, Grasshopper, Blender, Speckle, Lumion, D5, 3ds Max, V-Ray, and others, all connected using IFC-enabled OpenBIM (Figure 11).

Archicad is the main BIM application used by the firm, and it is the application that is used the most because of the wide range of functionalities it offers, allowing many possibilities in design. Some of Morph Estudio’s Archicad work for the Sphere project, an innovative residential project in Cadiz, Spain, is shown in Figure 12. The firm’s founder, César Frías, has a long history with Archicad and was using it for several years before starting Morph Estudio. At the Graphisoft event, he shared that very often, he designs directly in Archicad. He attributes the success of his firm, and its ability to win projects, to the speed and quality of the work that the use of Archicad has enabled.

Morph Estudio also makes extensive use of BIMx for visualization and collaboration, as shown in Figure 13 for the Sphere project in Cadiz that was shown in Figure 12.


Each Graphisoft event that I have attended so far features different projects and different firms from over the world using its solutions, and I find it amazing that Archicad seems to have an endless array of loyal users who have been using it for years and have stuck with it, despite what must be tremendous competitive pressure from Revit. Needless to say, Graphisoft is undoubtedly doing something right, not just in the quality of its customer support, which is legendary, but also in the continued development of its solutions so they stay cutting-edge and user-friendly, enabling them to be successfully deployed in so many high-profile projects such as the ones described in this article.

Additionally, there were some remarks from the presenters at this event that stuck out for me. Sanja Janjanin from architectsAlliance, the project manager of the Pier 27 project, said in the wrap-up to her presentation that she does not think about the software at all when working with Archicad, she just uses it without being aware of it — which, I think, is one the best compliments a design application can receive. And César Frías, the founder of Morph Estudio, shared that in addition to designing directly with Archicad, he finds that — because “the possibilities of the design depends upon the tools you are using” — the use of Archicad has advanced rather than hampered his design capabilities (Figure 14).

As far as customer testimonials go, you can’t get anything better!

About the Author

Lachmi Khemlani is founder and editor of AECbytes. She has a Ph.D. in Architecture from UC Berkeley, specializing in intelligent building modeling, and consults and writes on AEC technology. She can be reached at


Have comments or feedback on this article? Visit its AECbytes blog posting to share them with other readers or see what others have to say.

AECbytes content should not be reproduced on any other website, blog, print publication, or newsletter without permission.

Related Articles

Design Case Studies from Graphisoft Building Together 2023, Part 1

This article captures the presentations of three design firms at the recent Graphisoft Building Together Design event: Reflex Architects from Sweden, Tektonn Architects from China, and The Up Studio from the United States.

Design Case Studies from Graphisoft Building Together 2023, Part 2

This article captures the presentations of three design firms at the recent Graphisoft Building Together Design event: Brenac & Gonzalez & Associés from France, JKMM Architects from Finland, and Earthworld Architects & Interiors from South Africa.

Limitless Lessons from DESA: A Story of Collaboration

This article describes how the Duke Ellington School of the Arts (DESA) renovation project used Archicad with OpenBIM for detailed coordination across project teams, making an extremely complex adaptive reuse project possible.

Merdeka 118: Project Profile

Fender Katsalidis describes the implementation of AEC technology on the “Merdeka 118” project, a 118-storey, mega-tall skyscraper under construction in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Upon completion, it will become the tallest building in Malaysia and Southeast Asia, and the second-tallest building in the world.