Although drawing by hand is an essential skill for architects, knowing the right architecture software has become crucial in today’s job market. It can help the clients grasp your idea in its full beauty, make repetitive tasks less painful, and help teams collaborate better on projects. So let’s find out which are the best architecture software to learn for excelling in the field.
1. Autodesk AutoCAD: Industry’s favourite software
It was one of the first computer-aided design and drafting software (CAD) in the market and has been around for 39 years.
AutoCAD has replaced the traditional pen and paper way of drawing as it makes the process quick and accurate. For example, it has pre-built objects like walls, windows, and doors.
With AutoCAD, you can create both 2D and 3D designs in a graphical design interface. 3D objects can be created through solid modeling, surface modeling, and mesh modeling which is followed by rendering to make them look as real as possible.
As a beginner-friendly architecture software, AutoCAD is used extensively by students and professionals, especially for 2D drafting. Because of its widespread use, it is also compatible with other software where you can perform more advanced functions. Moreover, it allows you to collaborate with engineering and construction teams using other Autodesk tools. These reasons have helped it sustain its place amongst the best architecture software to learn.
AutoCAD is a general-purpose drafting software which means that it can be used by everyone from architects to hobbyists. While this is a good thing, it lacks the special tools needed for complex architecture projects that need accurate technical details. This is where another Autodesk software, Revit, comes into the picture.
2. Revit: The jack-of-all-trades architecture software
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This software has been rising in popularity over the past few years. What makes it stand out is the fact that it is a BIM software. This means that it can help you in the entire project lifecycle, right from designing to construction to documentation.
Revit allows architects, engineers, and construction professionals to work together in the same place. For example, if the architect changes a part of the building, the construction materials used for it will be automatically changed too. This is possible because Revit allows you to set technical details, such as the cost of the material, properties, and so on. Other examples of using Revit include seeing plumbing in the virtual building, carrying out sustainability tests on the building, etc.
Through Revit, you can visualise the building before the construction begins, try out different designs, and reduce cost. Therefore, it is used vastly in the construction of commercial buildings such as office spaces, hospitals, and airports.
3. SketchUp: The beginner-friendly architecture software
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SketchUp is a 3D modeling and rendering software. Its objective is to help anyone bring their designs easily to life.
This architecture software is easy to learn for beginners, has an intuitive user interface, and offers stellar visualisations. These features make it great for rapid prototyping.
SketchUp has multiple plugins such as the Google Earth plugin. This allows you to see your design on the site you are designing for!
Another cool feature that SketchUp exclusively offers is the ‘push and pull’ tool. This allows you to extrude 2D design to a 3D one.
SketchUp also has a warehouse from where you can import pre-made 3D models. This is called 3D Warehouse, and it allows you to search for 3D models created by others. You can even get in touch with makers to understand how it was created. This can be a great way to network with other architecture professionals.
It is one of the most affordable architecture software and is available in both free and paid versions.
4. Rhinoceros 3D/Rhino: The architect’s favourite
Rhino is a CAD software that is used for modeling. Compared to other CAD and BIM architecture software, it offers greater freedom in terms of designing, which has made it a top architecture software for many professionals. This is because it uses the NURBS model which can generate both simple geometry like lines and circles and free-form geometry like human bodies and complex curved surfaces.
Rhino offers many plugins, the most popular one being Grasshopper. This plugin uses algorithms to create complex 3D geometry, which can save a lot of time.
With Rhino, you can import and export files in several formats. So you can create your drawings elsewhere and use Rhino for advanced modeling. This can be helpful when you don’t want to learn extra features on Rhino as it has a steep learning curve.
Besides designing, it can be used for 2D and 3D documentation.
5. 3Ds Max: Software that gives designs a glow-up
Although 3Ds Max is majorly used for animation and games, it is also used in architecture visualisation. This is because of its excellent rendering functions which give the architecture designs a realistic look.
3Ds Max is also used for creating walkthroughs. However, these are more likely to be created for high-end architecture projects.
6. V-Ray: The go-to rendering software
V-Ray is a rendering architecture software that can be used with SketchUp, Rhino, and Revit. Through this software, you can add lighting effects, textures, and materials which make your designs more realistic.
7. Lumion: Rendering software when time is of essence
This is one of the most popular rendering software for architecture. It performs real-time rendering which makes the process quicker. However, this process needs high computing power.
Unlike V-Ray, Lumion has been designed especially for architecture.
8. Adobe Photoshop and InDesign: Software for final touch-up
In addition to using core architecture software, being adept at Adobe Photoshop and InDesign can really help architects stand out.
Photoshop is helpful in the post-production phase when the architects edit their images for the client presentation. A well-edited image can really help the client envision the building in real life and help you get that project :)
InDesign is the commonly-used software for creating presentation boards for portfolios.
Image credits: <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/vectors/cartoon’>Cartoon vector created by macrovector – www.freepik.com</a>
Aynazinsaat, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons