Whether you are looking for your first CAD program or already have one and want to compare it with others, our article should give you a good overview of the best architecture programs/BIM software.
Each of these architecture programs can create the necessary plans for the most complicated construction projects. However, the programs differ in many ways. Mostly it is the price that is decisive, sometimes the operating system of your computer, or the demands on the renderings of a software.
AutoCAD has been around since 1982 and is the most solid, mature software package on the market. As expected from a state-of-the-art CAD program, AutoCAD also supports parametric modeling. For more than two decades, architects had to work with the standard version of the CAD software until Autodesk released a solution for architectural design only.
Since the architecture software is an Autodesk product, the exchange with other programs is running smoothly. This is an advantage when the data from different planning instances meet in large projects. Autodesk has developed programs that are suitable for very specific applications. The data of the individual programs can be easily exchanged. So if you buy AutoCAD, you can be sure that your team members can open the files without any problems.
If you choose AutoCAD Architecture, that doesn’t mean you’re missing out on the features of the original program. The architecture software includes the same set of features as AutoCAD. However, it adds other features that are useful when drawing construction plans.
Autodesk also offers its own BIM software: Revit. Although this architecture program is newer than ArchiCAD, it does not take the same direction. Unlike ArchiCAD, Revit is not only aimed at architects but unites all the necessary professional groups that are relevant to house construction at one table. The idea behind this strategy is obvious: architects can work alone, but in the subsequent planning phases they have to deal with the house technicians, the electricians, the building planners and all other trades from other sectors. However, if all these experts use the same software, communication and coordination are simplified many times over.
One of the central characteristics of Revit is parametric building planning. This means that all building components in this architecture software are interdependent. If you increase the distance between two points or move a wall from A to B, neighbouring walls are also adjusted. This ensures consistency and accuracy. So you don’t have to change each element one after the other.
Since Autodesk is the publisher of Revit, the program also works with other tools from this company. So you can easily process files from other Autodesk products in Revit.
3. BricsCAD BIM
BricsCAD BIM is an architectural program that helps you to create a faithful digital image of a building in which all its physical and functional properties are stored. The skeleton of the building is superimposed with surface modeling techniques known from 3D modeling software.
To turn your design into an architectural design, this software has some surprises. Complex shapes such as facade panels and stairwells can be designed in no time thanks to parametric rows. This is also an advantage when reworking the model – you don’t always have to change all settings for each individual component.
This BIM software supports shared use and is therefore perfectly suited for large projects. Project data is stored in the cloud, so everyone can access the latest data anytime, anywhere. Team members can retrieve metadata and geometry data in an online 3D view. Individual search filters can be used to identify and view individual components and component groups.
Allplan is a BIM tool that has been continuously further developed by Nemetschek Architects. This architecture software consists of three components that work hand in hand to ensure maximum efficiency in the interdisciplinary planning of a construction project.
Allplan is software designed for architects. Based on the Parasolid modeling core (developed by Siemens), this component of the architecture software offers a high degree of design freedom when creating the 3D model. To start a BIM project, assign physical and functional data to the individual parts. This allows you to communicate well with the other project parties.
The second component is the Allplan Engineering Building. This component of the program was developed with the special requirements of structural engineers in mind. The BIM model is used here to plan support and facade structures. This step also includes bending lists and quantity planning. Possible problems with the meeting of material reinforcements, equipment, etc. can be avoided here. The results of the static analysis can be passed on to other teams and further processed in Allplan Architecture.
The architecture program Rhino is especially known for its visualization performance in complex structures. In addition, furniture, vehicles and many other objects can be visualized. Building construction data can be processed here and linked to the design of the building.
Rhinoceros is used in a multitude of work areas, be it in mechanical engineering or in toy manufacturing. It is therefore worth taking a look at this software, which offers a huge selection of functions and is much more flexible than conventional architecture programs.
Rhino offers a wide range of rendering software extensions. These two are best suited for architectural design: Flamingo nXt and Brazil. These extensions will help you with the final visualization of your model.
This architecture program is strongly graphics-oriented. Therefore it is suitable for presentations and competitions. You can also create simple 2D and 3D CAD drawings with this architecture program.
The software has evolved steadily. You can plan both small and large architectural projects and rely on the BIM feature. Vectorworks has a basic module and additional functions for architecture, interior design and landscape architecture. Also, high-class architectural firms use Vectorworks because of its endless BIM features.
Since Vectorworks can also be used to plan and execute CAM and CNC processes, it is also possible to plan and manufacture individual components individually. For example, furniture and complex components can be designed and implemented.
The name says it all: ArchiCAD is an architecture software that is aimed at architects and interior designers. From the very beginning, this software has represented walls, doors, windows, ceilings, stairwells and roofs in 2D and 3D. ArchiCAD contains all the functions that architects need to design buildings. With ArchiCAD, it is also possible to realize different floor heights and inclined walls. The architecture program is suitable for both, small buildings and large projects.
It is also possible to work on a project as part of a team. BIM has been an integral part of ArchiCAD for years. Data exchange with engineers takes place via DWG and IFC interfaces. With ArchiCAD, you can create simple, realistic renderings with different materials and also simulate shadows. The use of this architecture program is easy to learn.
The big advantage of ArchiCAD is that this software was designed for an exact target group, which has used it very successfully so far (also in competitions). ArchiCAD, Vektorworks, and Allplan are all from the Nemetschek Group. The programs are also continuously improved by the developers.
If you’re looking for architecture software that provides a wide range of BIM tools, take a closer look at Bentley’s MicroStation. The program is designed to unify the work processes of architects and engineers into one software package. This makes it easier for all teams involved in a large project to collaborate and communicate more effectively. This makes work many times more efficient.
With the modeling tools of this architecture software, you can build almost any geometric shape. In addition, MicroStation is a full-featured parametric modeler that lets you easily revise an existing design by changing its values.
MicroStation‘s sophisticated collaborative capabilities make it ideal for larger, multi-partner projects. ProjectWise allows teams to share project information quickly and securely. With its built-in RealDWG file format, it works well with other CAD programs such as AutoCAD.