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7 Free Architecture Software Tools that Save Your Time

15th Feb 2019
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Professional architecture software requires serious investment, and students, small design bureaus and self-employed architects not always can afford it. For this occasion, we’ve collected a list of free architecture software that will be a great alternative to expensive 3D design, CAD and modeling software tools.


1. Dynamo BIM

Dynamo BIM is a space planning and 3D modeling software for computational design and building information modeling (BIM). With its friendly interface and smooth logic routines, the tool allows to find best solutions for space planning and create efficient and convenient designs. Its visualization tools allow to review results quickly and smoothly.

Dynamo is an open-source software tool, so it’s completely free. It can be used as a standalone tool or in combination with other software. Dynamo is easily extensible through a library of packages, Python scripting, and direct .dll import.


2. My Virtual Home

My Virtual Home is a 3D home design app. As its creators explain, it is inspired by lair-building video games: it includes a set of standard blocks and modifications that you can use to plan the space of your home, office or any other location.

The app is simple and suits best for beginners and people who are not proficient in visual design. It’s easy to learn (getting the basics takes about 10 minutes) and allows to create a full design in an hour or less. The tool also provides an accurate lighting model, where you can set up your latitude, longitude and season, and enjoy realistic lighting effects.


3. SmartDraw

SmartDraw is an architectural design app that is designed to speed up and simplify work process. It includes dozens of templates that you can modify and customize according to your needs. Templates include house plans, landscapes, office spaces, facilities and other objects. With ready-made symbols, you can easily plan any space and create multiple design options.

The app is available both in the cloud and in downloadable packages. To streamline work process, it can be integrated with different tools that you use in your daily work. The app allows to export drawings and plans in different formats to print them out or use in the next steps of your workflow.


4. Archimedes

Archimedes is a free and open-source CAD solution. This system is built on the basis of plugins, which means high extensibility and configurability. You can select and add the features you need for your work, and drop others.

Archimedes is a cross-platform solution available for Windows, Linux and MacOS. To run on these operating systems, it only requires a Java Virtual Machine installed. And this also means that any drawings and plans created in the software are easily recoverable and can be used on different OS.


5. Sweet Home 3D

A simple and convenient tool for beginners, great for designing interiors and drawing plans of home or office. Intuitive and realistic, the software allows you to create plans of your home and review them in a 3D version. It also allows to create photorealistic images and videos on the basis of your plans. Different lighting schemes included in the tool allow to review the results in various lighting conditions.

The software supports import of external 3D models from other sources, and allows to export plans and drawings created in it into various formats for printout and processing. Being an open-source tool, it is completely free and highly configurable.


6. BRL-CAD

This tool is an open-source solution designed as a constructive solid geometry (CSG) modeling system. It can be used to create 3D models of any objects, analyze the models, edit them, and use them in other tools and systems. The tool includes 3D solid geometry editing, high-performance ray-tracing, image and signal processing, and has an embedded scripting interface and libraries for representation and analysis of models.

BRL-CAD includes a large set of tools, utilities, and applications for 3D modeling and design. It is designed to be extensively cross-platform and supports basically all common operating systems.


7. actiTIME

actiTIME is an intuitive time-tracking solution indispensable for architect buros and solo architects. It helps you track time spent on different projects and automatically generate invoices for your clients with detailed activity. Time reports will help you evaluate your team's performance, profitability of different projects, and the most expensive parts of work. You will set more accurate estimates based on the real data.


Summary

Handling architecture, design, and modeling tasks quickly and professionally doesn’t require significant investment. Free architecture software can be a great help for those with tight budget. To optimize your workflow and achieve better performance, adapt the tools that you’re using to your specific needs, keep track of where your time goes, and automate as much as possible.

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