Software Applications for 3D Architecture
For architects, engineers, and construction firms at large, manual two-dimensional designs are time-consuming and error-prone. Even after multiple iterations, 2D drawings may fail to communicate the final project concept. With 3D architecture software, however, architects and engineers can provide virtual tours, giving stakeholders the full experience of a proposed project.
3D architecture software includes features such as 3D modeling, computer-aided design (CAD) tools, and animations so users can design virtual tours and visualize structures. These tools allow multiple designers and architects to collaborate and co-edit designs via virtual 3D models.
In this buyers guide, we'll explore 3D architecture software as well as its features and benefits.
Here’s what we'll cover:
What is 3D architecture software?
3D architecture software is used by architects, construction professionals, and engineers to design virtual tours and create three-dimensional models. It uses 3D modeling and CAD tools to create a visualized concept of proposed structures.
3D architecture software uses building information modeling (BIM) to help architects analyze the entire construction process, including planning, operation, design, and maintenance. These tools also allow users to check errors in models, identify potential issues, and make changes. 3D architecture software facilitates animation, data import/export, image editing, and drafting.
An example of a 3D architecture software dashboard in AutoCAD (Source)
Common features of 3D architecture software
||Create a three-dimensional model of a structure to provide a realistic and accurate view of the project. Check errors in the architectural design process, provide virtual tours for clients, and more.
||Teams can collaborate and co-edit a 3D infrastructure model.
||Build 3D animations for landscapes and interiors to visualize ideas and provide an interactive experience.
|Building information modeling (BIM)
||Evaluate physical as well as functional characteristics of a construction project by integrating every detail about the project's strategy, design, operation, and maintenance.
||Develop, modify, and optimize 3D architectural designs. Calculate the impact of any change on the overall design.
||Select required presentation elements such as text, images, videos, and animations from a component library to create immersive presentations.
||Refine your 3D model by adding landscape elements such as trees, plants, and people.
||Import and export data files, diagrams, and 3D models.
||Store and track all project-related files in a single database that only authorized stakeholders can access.
What type of buyer are you?
Most 3D architecture software buyers belong to one of the following categories:
- Large enterprises (500+ employees): Buyers in this segment include large businesses with separate teams of architecture design engineers and professionals. These professionals are involved in complex or multi-dimensional projects with multiple stakeholders. Buyers in this category should look for 3D visualization software with advanced features such as BIM, 3D rendering, 3D printing, project management, data import/export, and file management capabilities. These buyers should also pay special attention to whether the 3D architecture tools they're considering integrate with their existing software such as construction management and BIM tools.
- Small and midsize enterprises (up to 500 employees): Buyers in this segment include small and midsize businesses with smaller teams and limited budgets. Often, these buyers provide construction design services as well as consulting throughout the project lifecycle. This means they need 3D architect software with collaboration tools, file management, and data import/export capabilities. These buyers should look for a basic 3D architecture tool that is effective yet cost-efficient.
Benefits of 3D architecture software
- Realistic visualization: 3D architecture software uses animation and landscape design to help clients visualize project designs. Designers can create a virtual tour of architectural projects that include minute details such as textures, light, and outside views.
- Streamline corrections and re-modeling: Users can re-model components separately without disturbing the overall design. Using the components library, editing and rectifying issues is much easier and more economical than manual 2D drafting.
- Reduce costs and mitigate risk: You can easily rotate and view a 3D design from all sides, making it easier to analyze and identify potential issues. This helps save time and money by eliminating any stress points in the design.
- Integrate multi-disciplinary data: BIM features integrate structured, multi-disciplinary data related to the strategy, design, and maintenance lifecycles into 3D models.
Key considerations for 3D architecture software:
Here are a few factors to consider while selecting 3D architecture software:
- Business requirements: Evaluate your business requirements and your expectations for 3D architecture software to determine whether a basic tool would work or if you need a software package with advanced features such as 3D rendering, BIM, 3D printing, and drafting.
- System compatibility: Ensure that the software you choose integrates with your existing tools and systems. You'll also want a tool that supports multiple file formats such as STEP, IGES, VDA, IDF, .OBJ, and .STL.
- Features: Understand the core and unique features of specific 3D architecture software products before making your choice. The tool you choose should not only help you conceptualize ideas but also facilitate photorealistic rendering and presenting models.
- Management cost: It is important to test and upgrade your software throughout its lifecycle. However, adding elements and features to your 3D architecture software can incur extra costs. Be sure to consider long-term management costs when initially investing in a tool.
Note: The application selected in this guide is an example to show a feature in context and is not intended as an endorsement or recommendation. It has been taken from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.