9 Free Architecture Software That Save Your Time

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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. Blender

Blender is a free and open-source solution for 3D model creation. It supports all steps of the model creation process: modeling, rigging, animation, rendering, compositing, motion tracking, and also includes video editing and game creation features. This tool suits for design bureaus and self-employed professionals, freelancers, students, etc. It is highly customizable and can be completed with extensions developed by supporters and enthusiasts.

2. FreeCAD

This multiplatform open-source solution is a parametric 3D modeler built for creating models of real-life objects. The tool allows to prepare 2D sketches and use them to create 3D objects, and vice versa – create 2D drawings on the basis of existing 3D models. It supports various file formats (STEP, IGES, STL, SVG, DXF, OBJ, IFC, DAE and more) so that users can process exported files in other software. FreeCAD suits for both professionals and hobbyists and can be used in design, architecture and construction, mechanical engineering, and other fields.

3. LibreCAD

LibreCAD is a free 2D-CAD multiplatform solution for Windows, Mac and Linux developed as a fork of QCAD. It allows to prepare various types of technical drawings, such as building and room plans, interior design schemes, drawings of mechanical parts, schematics, and diagrams. The main supported file format is DXF, and the tool also allows to export files into SVG and PDF. LibreCAD suits for professionals, students, hobbyists and enthusiasts.

4. OpenSCAD

OpenSCAD is an open-source solution for creating solid 3D CAD models available for Windows, Unix, and Mac. It differs from most 3D modeling software, focusing more on the CAD aspects instead of artistic ones. As its developers emphasize, the tool is not an interactive modeling software and works more like a 3D compiler that reads object properties from a script file and renders a 3D model on their basis, which gives the user full control over the modeling process.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

Know a better free architecture software solution? Share it with us at productivity@actitime.com!