Architects’ Best Friend – Architecture Software Round Up

If you’re an architect or in that area of business, you know how important it is to find the go-to software that you can always rely on, no matter what. Your grand design wouldn’t have been able to come to life in its full glory if it weren’t for these programs.

Before you jump to jog our memory and remind us about the old days when all you needed (and had!) was a(n) (ink) pencil and a piece of paper to draw up a plan, we want to clarify that we’re here to make another point. The focus shouldn’t be on the fact that you can do something in a makeshift manner, but on the easiest and most elegant way to execute your vision.

It’s actually not that easy to make a straightforward recommendation on which computing tool that helps architects revive their plans to use. There are so many different options out there. There are also at least as many personal preferences to top those available options.

Although this list is in no way conclusive, we give you the pros and cons of some of the best/most popular software tools for architects that are currently available. We’ve divided the list into two main categories – free and commercial software.

1. Free 3D Architecture Software

SketchUp is a very handy tool to have and use on a regular basis, even though some would argue that you can’t really do much with it. Arguably, it can even be used as a BIM (Building Information Modeling) program to some extent. The significant marketplace of various extensions should be added to the equation when talking about the pros and cons of SketchUp. If you include these plugins, you actually get a pretty decent piece of software, all things considered.

FreeCAD Arch is designed around parametric modeling. The developers intended it to be used for designing real-life objects in 3D. Even though it’s free, it has an upper hand over some of the paid programs out there. FreeCad Arch gives you more freedom when it comes to designing some of the most typical objects like floors and walls. You can really go wild with some of the more ordinary shapes.

2. Commercial Architecture Software

AutoDesk Products

Most of the architects today would probably tell you that AutoDesk products are the real deal when it comes to making different design solutions. They have the largest market-share and are used by professionals more than any other CAD software product.

3DS Max is a powerful and flexible modeling system that comes out of AutoDesk’s kitchen. It offers 3D modeling as well as animation, and it has AutoCAD file support to go along with powerful plugins. But we would also have to agree that the minus is a steep learning curve. The cost of the whole bundle that goes along with 3DS Max is $3,898 (AUD) for a year. 3DS Max alone costs $2128 (AUD), which is a pretty good price if you compare it with the cost of AutoCAD, which is slightly bigger.

And if you’re struggling to make a sound decision on which particular option to choose, you may want to consider business process assessment, to get a clearer idea about what’s best for you and your business.

AutoCAD Civil 3D

One of the most important characteristics and advantages of AutoDesk products is that they are designed to work together across different platforms. Softwares like 3DS Max, AutoCAD or Revit all offer a unique experience for BIM workflows.

AutoCAD Civil 3D has a cool feature where you can merge or combine survey images with terrain modeling, roads, service schematics, and constructional geometry. This tool permits architects to smoothly transition from paying attention to one particular sector to seeing the larger picture.

The price of AutoCAD Civil 3D is $3,050 (AUD) per year to license, but you can also opt for a license that includes multiple AutoDesk programs, in which case the cost for the whole ’Architecture, Engineering & Construction Collection’ is around $3900 (AUD) per annum.


The possible advantages of choosing MicroStation over some of the AutoDesk products are often connected with arguments about MicroStation’s unmatched stability. On top of that, there are also strongly voiced opinions about MicroStation’s easier and more intuitive interface.

But we can also use the same vim and vigor to discuss, make various points and talk about some of the distinct flaws of MicroStation compared to AutoDesk products. One of the most distinct weaknesses and shortcomings is the fact that only 5-10% of professionals use this software. There are different compatibility issues with AutoCAD, which don’t exactly make one’s life easier when it comes to workflow problems.

The cost of the full version (one license) is around $7,400 (AUD), but there’s also an ’educational version’ for students, and this license is free of charge.

Read about: 4 Tips For Choosing The Right PCB Design Software


So, those were some of the pros and cons of different architect tools out there that you can choose from. Although there are plenty more and the list is inconclusive, we wanted to give you a quick glance at some of the most popular and used options. Few of those are free and others are more commercial. And if you’re still undecided about your course of action, we also suggest that you contact professional help in order to make the best business process assessment.

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Chloe Smith

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