6 Software Every Architect Must Have

As you already know, the modern Architect can’t be separated from his software. This is a list of 6 awesome software every architect must-have.

To be efficient and effective today, architects need to design with computer software. It doesn’t only make design and presentation easier, but it also makes design output economical, faster and competitive. Are you an architect, interior designer or landscape professional? Have you decided to upgrade to using computer software for design and don’t know which to use?

Let’s get right on it.

1. Conceptual /3D Modelling Software.

Often when we get design commission, we always want to test our ideas and make quick presentations in 2D and 3D formats. Now, there are easy-to-use software that can achieve this.

Among many, the most popular software in this category is SKETCHUP, now owned by Trimble inc, formerly owned by Google. It is an intuitive modelling application that lets you create and edit 2D and 3D models with patented “Push and Pull” methods.

Sketchup Push and Pull tool allows designers to extrude any flat surface into 3D shapes. All you have to do is click an object and then start pulling it until you like what you see.

The 2D output of SketchUp is stunning. For 3D, SketchUp supports third-party plugins such as Vray which guarantees an excellent 3D rendering for every model rendered.

Therefore, your initial presentation, conceptual design and 3D can be achieved with Sketchup.

2. CAD Software.

CAD means Computer-Aided Design/Drafting. Drafting for architects is like food for man, we can’t do without it. After our conceptual sketches have been accepted, we mostly return to producing technical drawings of those sketches.

This is where CAD thrives. Before now, all designs and drafting were done on drawing boards with pens and pencils. Manual drafting was very laborious and stressful, until 1982 when Autodesk released its first CAD software – AutoCAD.

Autodesk AutoCAD is the most popular and most widely used CAD programme, however, there are others.

AutoCAD can be described as computer-aided design (CAD) software that architects, engineers and construction professionals rely on. It creates precise 2D and 3D drawings. It can draft and edit 2D geometry and 3D models.

The software can also annotate drawings with text, dimensions and tables. The 2D output of AutoCad is so excellent that no other CAD software can rival it.

However, the usage and proficiency one derives in the use of AutoCAD depends on one’s ability and training. AutoCAD can also produce 3D models but architecture has long moved away from 3D done in AutoCAD to BIM.

3. BIM Software.

BIM simply means Building Information Modelling. It may sound a little high-tech but it is just an intelligent AEC software that designs, drafts, builds the 3D models and collates all the building information.

Interestingly, it does all this simultaneously. It’s become trendy among architects today for the production of design drawings as well as for collaborating with other allied professionals. It is often very easy to confuse BIM software with 3D modelling software like Sketchup but there is a difference.

Yes, BIM makes 3D models, but in essence, it is a process for creating and managing all of the information on a project – before, during and after construction.

The output of this process is the Building Information Model, the digital description of every aspect of the built project. While 3D Modelling Software only makes 3D models.

There are several BIM software out there but the most popular and widely used among them are REVIT and ArchiCAD.

ArchiCAD is a 3D BIM software produced by Graphisoft while REVIT is the 3D BIM tool produced by Autodesk. Either of them works perfectly, depending on which you prefer.

4. Rendering Software.

Basic rendering software

Sketchup, BIM and CAD software on their own are not specialized rendering software. Though their default rendering quality is not of the best available.

Often to enhance the quality of rendering you can use either independent rendering software or a plugin.

A plugin is a software component that adds a specific feature to an existing third-party computer program.

An example of a Plugin is Vray. Vray is produced by Chaos Group and is supported by Revit, Sketchup, 3ds Max, Maya, Rhinoceros and much other third-party software.

Vray produces quick photo-realistic renderings, walkthroughs and animations. It is the choice of many architects.

For quality, fast and easy architectural visualization and walkthroughs, architects should stick with Vray as it works as a plugin for either Sketchup, Revit or Archicad and guarantees very superior quality renderings.

Advance rendering software

Others include Lumion, 3ds max, unreal engine etc. While Lumion is an architectural visualization software, 3ds max and Unreal Engine are professional software used by other industry professionals.

Lumion is a 3D architectural visualization software used to create 3D environments and subsequently stunning visualization and walkthroughs.

It accepts models from almost all 3D/CAD/BIM software and works en-sync with some of them.

3ds max is a professional 3D computer graphics program for making 3D animations, models, games and images, it is produced by Autodesk.

Its renderings are of excellent quality but this depends on the skill of the user. A lot of animation movies you watch on TV are products of 3ds max.

Unreal Engine is produced by Epic games. Before now it was strictly a game engine produced for people working in real-time technology for a cinematic experience.

Today, architects, designers and 3D artists have begun using Unreal Engine for architectural visualization, virtual reality and showcasing of architectural design in real-time. Unreal Engine is the future of rendering and a big game-changer.

If you desire to specialize further in architectural visualization and animation, then you may invest in Lumion, 3ds max or/and Unreal Engine.

5. Image Processing Software.

Because presentation is central to architecture practice, image editing and processing are necessary for our day-to-day activity. Often most of the excellently rendered images we see were heavily edited in the image processing software.

This software can turn average-looking images or drawings into a very exceptional asset for a project. With this software, you can create presentations from scratch, tweak rendering and drawings and edit photographs of built projects or beautify them.

There are several image-processing software but one of the most common among architects is Photoshop. Photoshop is produced by Adobe and is easy to use.

6. PDF reader and Converter Software.

Before now architects depended heavily on printed drawings to convey design details to clients, contractors and fellow professionals. But today via emails, WhatsApp and other online channels, soft copies can be exchanged with these individuals more cheaply, faster and conveniently. The dependence on hard copies has diminished, thus, architects need a reliable format in which they can transmit drawings without fear of it being copied or reproduced.

PDF offers that format and even allows you to password your document if you desire.PDF is simply a Portable Document Format that captures your document as an electronic image that can be viewed, navigated, printed or sent to anyone.

It has become a very popular format professionals use for conveying documents to third parties. The most popular PDF reader is Acrobat Reader produced by Adobe and can be installed on both computers and mobile devices for quick access to all PDF documents.

On the other hand, PDF converters help you convert any documents (CAD, BIM, images etc) into PDF format before onward transmission to a third party. There are several PDF converters out there and you can choose from any good one.

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