Outdoor environments: how to model an external staircase and rapidly adapt the terrain planimetrics to the curved staircase using a BIM software

In the previous article we have reproduced an external courtyard, located in front of the residence designed by architect Otavio Pereira Nunes in Teresopolis (Rio De Janeiro), with the help of a BIM software (How to model a courtyard with a BIM software).

In this article we will instead analyze an additional element as part of the external spaces of the above mentioned single-family residence.

We will specifically see how to design an external “S” shaped stairs ramp, placed on the side of the courtyard.

What are the process steps of designing an outdoor space?

The first step is observing and collecting the feelings conveyed by the place where to start the planning.

Another fundamental aspect is dealing with the customer while trying to understand what the needs are, how the garden will be used and investigating  on the customer’s tastes and habits, so to match planning ideas with the comforts for those living these environments.

The project starts by associating forms to functions: you try to build cases around the layout of space distribution and expression.

At the same time, materials and type of vegetation will be taken into account as being fundamental elements of this environment: plants will be selected according to their shapes, blooming and colours during the different months of the year.

The staircase project

The external elements are designed with extreme care and in perfect harmony with the lines of the architectural project.

A flight of stairs has been reproduced on the side of the driveway entrance representing the pedestrian access to the house. The “S” shaped staircase follows the planimetric course of the terrain and allows to overcome the difference in height between the entrance gate and the main door of the house.


External staircase rendered model

Let’s see how to reproduce the external staircase in few steps, with the architectural BIM design software Edificius.

 Staircase modeling with a software

We start the project by inserting an appropriately sized staircase from the terrain environment (setting the internal corner, radius of curvature and number of risers) and the two landings.

While using guidelines and the “circle” object, we adapt the curvature of the staircase to the courtyard shape.


Planimetric adaptation of the terrain to the curved staircase with a BIM software

We can adapt the surrounding terrain to the curved staircase with the aid of magnetic snaps and elevation nodes.


Modeling the Perimeter wall on the staircase curvature with a BIM software

We can use the object “solid on terrain” to make the perimeter curb of the staircase.
Next, we can hide the terrain with  the “transparency effect” function so to display the snap points in more detail. These latter ones represent a guide for the positioning of the curb, after having previously defined their height and width.


You can look at the summary video below.



Following we suggest some photorealistic renderings of the final result, which have been realized with Edificius.


Are you trying to easily model an external staircase? Download and try Edificius, the architectural BIM software, for free!