Software is hugely important in modern architecture. Design, display, visualization, and record keeping are all completed accurately and efficiently with the help of ingenious specialist computer programs. This article is a rundown of the most important kinds of software used in architecture today.
A floor plan is one of the essential documents that all architects must provide to clients, construction managers, and permit granting authorities. It is a 2D diagram showing the horizontal dimensions of a building, both interior, and exterior. It contains easy-to-decipher information regarding each room’s exact dimensions and materials. Universal symbols are used to mark out fittings such as doors, windows, and stairs – in much the same fashion as in an electrical circuit diagram.
Traditionally, floor plans were created by architects using a compass, pencil, and ruler. Architects spent a great deal of their formal training learning how to accurately create diagrams – including floor plans. Today, the software has made floor plan design far more easy. Floor planning software enables a near-perfect degree of accuracy to be achieved, as an architect can input dimensions and precisely illustrate them. It enables the swift export of floor plans to other software, clients, or construction managers without the need for photocopying.
As well as learning how to draw floor plans, architects have traditionally spent a portion of their time in training, learning how to construct scale models of their designs. 3D scale models are immensely important in architecture. They enable an architect to explore their design and to display it to clients and stakeholders. They give an accurate impression of the physical impact that a building will have on a space. In the past, these models were made of plywood.
These days, architects are able to do away with fiddly and time-consuming modelmaking. Instead, they can use modern 3D modeling software to create explorable representations of their design that can be viewed using a computer. Most good 3D modeling programs will allow an architect to import dimensions from documents such as floor plans to aid their creation of a model. Although Sketchup is the most popular of these programs, there are a number of Sketchup alternatives that are becoming equally as beloved.
Building Information Modeling software is a must-have for any modern architect. It is essentially a record-keeping tool used to record every material choice, design choice, or required alteration related to a design. Building Information Modeling might sound rather boring, but it has been one of the driving factors behind an increasingly efficient architectural design to construction implementation pipeline in recent years. The more efficiently information is recorded and stored, the more efficient a project will be in the long run.
CAD stands for Computer-Aided Design. The use of Computer Aided Design software differs slightly from the use of floor planning, VR, and 3D modeling software despite being very similar in appearance to all of these programs. The aim of floor planning, 3D modeling, and VR software is to illustrate a design. The aim of CAD software is to create that design. Modern architects typically use Computer Aided Design programs as their primary creative software – replacing the sketchbooks of their predecessors. CAD is far more efficient and practical than a paper notebook. It enables an architect to effortlessly keep records of dimensions and materials while creating. It allows for the export of designs into other programs and the sharing of designs with clients and stakeholders.
Computer-Aided Design has revolutionized the field of architectural design. The first successful CAD software was conceived in 1963. Ian Sutherland’s Ph.D. thesis ‘Sketchpad: A Man-Machine Graphical Communications System’ lays out the foundations for modern architectural Computer-Aided Design. It was a novel step forward in the interactivity between human beings and computers and ushered in a new age of design.
Live Walk Through And VR
Live 3D tours and Virtual Reality renderings of architectural designs are all the rage at the moment. It is not hard to see why these kinds of innovative experiences are causing such a fuss in the architectural world. The ability of an architect to enable a client to actually experience the dimensions of a building before it has been constructed or modeled physically is a great one indeed. This technology is not only useful for displaying building designs to potential and current clients. It can also be used by architects themselves to explore spaces and find aspects that need to be altered. It enables a new kind of design perspective.
Live walk-throughs can feasibly be facilitated using a 3D rendering program like a blender. True virtual reality is a slightly more complex affair. Software that enables a person to ‘explore’ a digital rendering is necessary. Software like Autodesk Live enables an architect to easily convert a 3D model into an explorable virtual reality environment. This can then be paired up with a headset such as the Oculus Rift.
In recent years, simple VR has become far more affordable. This is largely thanks to projects like Google Cardboard, which allow the use of a mobile telephone as a viable VR monitor. Architects have been one of the biggest users of Google Cardboard since its inception. While very few clients will own or be able to borrow a full-capability VR headset, almost all of them will own a Google Cardboard compatible smartphone. Headsets for cardboard can be purchased for under 20 dollars – with some architects purchasing large quantities for distribution to clients upon request.
Layout programs like InDesign are immensely useful for architects, who regularly have to put together portfolios and guides for their clients in order to update them. An architect does not look professional if they hand out or send over poorly designed literature. Working knowledge of layout software is essential for any architect who intends to work independently. Architects should be confident when creating slideshows and construction briefs that look great and display information clearly and concisely and are easy for clients to understand.