Top 5 Architectural Design Software for Budding Architects

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Today, we are going to discuss about the top architectural design software used to design and build projects.

As an architect, you need modern architectural design software to create visual representations required by clients. Apart from concept drawings, blueprints and physical models, clients nowadays want to see more detailed representations for both the interior and the exterior of the house, which is only possible with CGI visualisation. According to 3DLines: “CGI visualisations is certainly one of the best ways of showing your creative visions, and significantly increases the chance of winning a pitch, attracting new business or giving the client an insight to the finished design.” For that reason, we have compiled some of the best architectural design software you can use to visualize your project.

You can even outsource Architecture Engineering Services to focus on large engineering and complex projects.

Here are the top 5 Architectural Design Software of 2021

1. Sketchup

Sketchup is one of the popular and smart 3D modelling software with over 2 million downloadable sketches. Developed by Trimble software in 2000, Sketchup is one of the favourite choice for Architects, engineers, interior designers, and construction managers as it’s super easy to learn and affordable. Despite being cheap, this software comes with many helpful features, thanks to its numerous updates since its launch.


Most designers avoided Sketchup initially as it was termed as too basic due to lack of advanced features. However, Google added numerous features after purchasing the software in 2006. For example, users can utilise topographical and satellite images from Google Maps.

Features of SketchUp

  • Textures
  • Lightning effects
  • 3D & 2D Models
  • Layer Manager
  • Animations

This software’s low cost makes it a perfect choice for students and designers operating on slim budgets.

Sketchup Pricing:-

Designed for Personal, Professional, Higher Education, Primary & Secondary, Reseller Locator

Starting Price :- $119/year

Free Trial:– Yes

OS:- Windows, Mac

Languages Support:- English, Sweden

2. AutoCAD

Released in 1982, AutoCAD is one of the oldest architectural design software available to date. The software was designed to transfer computer-aided design (CAD) from mainframe computers to personal computers. Over the decades, the software has undergone numerous improvements to incorporate modern design features and improve its usability. Most professionals have used AutoCAD as it is the software used to introduce students to 3D models.


Architects mostly use AutoCAD as a 2D drawing tool for creating house plan areas like the floor, sections and elevations. Its pre-built objects like windows, doors and walls simplify the drawing process by eliminating the need to design them manually. Additionally, users can convert their 2D drawings into realistic objects using the software’s variety of surfaces, solids, lighting and mesh objects.

Since most of the visual representations by AutoCAD are of basic level, most professionals transfer drawings from AutoCAD to other advanced software for improvements. Thanks to its popularity, AutoCAD’s files are compatible with other design packages. There are industry-specific versions of the software to allow simpler drawing of base models, plus it allows cloud storage to allow teams to view and view and edit CAD drawings from any location. The software is also available in the form of a mobile app.

Devices Supported: – Windows, Anrdoid, iPhone/Ipad, Mac, Web-based

Languages:– English, Dutch, Polish

Free Trials:- Yes

3. Rhino 3D

Founded in 1980 by Robert McNeel & Associates Rhino 3D is one of the most popular architectural designs, thanks to its unique features like allowing users to enter drawings and physical software that act as the base model. We highly recommend Rhino 3D if you are looking for product design and 3D printing.


Like other architectural design packages, Rhino 3D offers the various designer tools required to edit the models. You can also use the software to create animations and many more visual models that may be challenging to create using other design packages.

Additionally, if you have some programming knowledge, you can adjust Rhino’s workspace to fit your needs better. Programmers can use RhinoScript to create personal plugins, and those without programming skills can use the pre-built plugins. Manufacturers can also transfer their designs into the real-world through laser cutting and 3D printing.

Super easy navigation and user friendly tool for 3D designers.

OS:- Windows, Mac

Starting Price:- $995

4. V-Ray


V-Ray is the best software for designers who want to go beyond 3D design and present clients with a more detailed visual model. The software is a plugin that designers can use with standalone design software like ArchiCAD and Sketchup. V-Ray helps designers to make their 3D models more realistic by giving them a real-world look. This way, clients will see what the design will look like once complete — without omitting any detail, including lighting and the colours.

5. ArchiCAD

Developed in 1982, ArchiCAD was the first Building Information Modelling (BIM) product for personal computers designed by Graphisoft for architects, interior designers, designers, and urban planners and integrated BIM to allow professional collaboration in a project. As architectural design software, ArchiCAD provides users with everything they need to design both 2D and 3D models.


Designers can use the software to create 2D and 3D visual models, plus you can integrate other packages like V-Ray and ArchiCAD to improve functionality. However, you may not need to integrate V-Ray into the latest models of ArchiCAD as they are capable of creating lifelike models using CineRender.

Most designers prefer ArchiCAD for its user-friendliness, plus it takes less time to create detailed models. Its automation tools like the inbuilt library of rail designs and stairs make work easier as you can quickly incorporate them to the building you have designed. Additionally, the ease of learning ArchiCAD’s basics makes it the best choice for newbie architects and students.

The software is available on both Mac and Windows computers and as a mobile app.

Languages:– Czech, German, Greek, English, Finnish, French, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Chinese (Simplified)

Designed for :- Business Professionals, Student, Teacher or Academic Institution

Final Conclusion

To make your design process easier we have shortlisted some of the best architectural software available in the market as they can help you to work on the digital design of buildings and present them to your client in a professional manner. All these software will help you design basic models, but you may have the most preferred, depending on your needs.

If you are a beginner into architectural world than we recommend you to try Sketchup or ArchiCAD as the pricing is lower and super easy to learn but if you are a specialist you can opt for AutoCAD or Grasshopper.

Hope we helped you to select the right Architectural Design Software.

Let us know in the comments which one you start using.

Do you have a question related to related to architectural work? Please don’t hesitate to contact us.