Top 7 Free Best Architecture Software for 2021

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Are you looking for free architecture software to enhance your skills or want to use for professional purpose? Nowadays, designing architectural structures has been made very simple and efficient. thanks to the variety of powerful and versatile architecture software available on the market. Although this software requires a capable machine with good specifications, it is much easier to invest in a high-spec computer and design structures on it using software instead of doing it manually on paper.

Using a software, you can easily plan and design properties and building layout regardless of your skill status (You can be a student, a professional architect, or just someone interested in designing).

Here, I will be discussing my list of the top 7 free architecture design software that works with the Windows system.

System requirements

It is obvious that you would be primarily doing a heavy 3-D rendering of building designs in the architecture software. Mentioned below are the system requirements for getting optimal and satisfactory performance out of the software-

ComponentMinimum RequirementRecommended Requirement
Processor2.5 – 2.9 GHz Processor3+ GHz Processor
Memory8 GB – 1333 MHz16 GB – 1333+ MHz
Graphics Card1 GB VRAM

Bandwidth – 29 GB/s

DirectX 11 compliant

4 GB VRAM

Bandwidth – 106 GB/s

DirectX 11 compliant

Operating SystemWindows 7/8.1/10

32 bit or 64 bit (Bit type may vary with the software)

Windows 10 64 bit
.NET Framework.NET Framework version  4.7 or higherSame as minimum
DisplayNo minimum requirement1920 x 1080

Up to 3840 x 2160 (64 – bit)

FreeCAD

FreeCAD is a powerful and versatile, open-source parametric 3D modeler primarily developed to design real-life objects of variable sizes. FreeCAD is not exactly focused on architecture, you can use it to create any object you want. You can be a hobbyist, a programmer, a professional CAD user, a student, or a teacher, FreeCAD can suit all your needs and you will feel comfortable with it in no time.

With FreeCAD, you get Finite Element Analysis (FEA) tools, experimental CFD, BIM (Building Information Modelling), Geodata workbenches, Path Workbench, and many more features.

Some of the key features of FreeCAD-

  • Detail views, cross-sectional views, dimensioning allow you to generate 2D views of existing 3D design which is made possible due to a technical drawing module.
  • Architecture Module: Allows BIM-like workflow with IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) Compatibility.
  • Import or export files to standard formats used for CAD software like STEP, IGES, STL, SVG, DXF, OBJ, IFC, DAE, and many others in addition to FreeCADs native FCStd file format.
  • sketch geometry-constrained 2D shapes using a sketcher integrated with constraint-solver.
  • Rendering Module: You can export 3D objects for rendering with external renderers like povray or LuxRender.
  • FreeCAD has a built-in python console with features like syntax-highlighting, autocomplete, and a class browser.

Blender

If you have even a little knowledge about software-based 3D and 2D animation or rendering, it is impossible that you haven’t heard of Blender before. Blender is a top-notch free and open-source 3D creation suite used by millions of users belonging to both amateur and professional communities. Released in 1998, Blender has come a long way and now is incredibly stable, regularly updated, and very powerful and versatile.

Blender covers the entirety of the 3D pipeline which includes modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, video editing, and 2D animation pipeline. Some salient features of Blender are as follows-

  • A highly customizable user interface: You can easily customize the UI, Windows layout, and shortcuts thanks to Blender’s custom architecture
  • Powerful simulation tools: Blender offers industry-standard simulation libraries like MantaFlow and Bullet
  • Camera and object motion tracking, masking, or composition, you can do it all using Blender’s VFX features
  • Extensive modeling tools: Sculpting, retopology, modeling, curves are some tools
  • Thanks to ‘Cycles’, Blender’s physically based path-tracer, you can create extraordinarily impressive renders
  • Availability of multiple pipeline tools like GLTF, OpenEXR, ALEMBIC, and COLLADA
  • Blender doesn’t cut corners on scripting either. You can take advantage of the extensive Python API for scripting and customization

OpenSCAD

This free software is perfect for those who have basic to advanced programming knowledge. You are going to love OpenSCAD. It is a powerful, solid 3D modeler for programmers which is available for free on Linux/UNIX, Microsoft Windows, and macOS X in modest file size. As the name hints, OpenSCAD is open-source and you can download the source code from the official website.

OpenSCAD doesn’t emphasize the artistic aspects but rather on the CAD aspects. As you might have guessed by now, OpenSCAD is more of a compiler than an interactive UI software like Blender or FreeCAD. This software uses two modeling techniques: CSG (Constructive Solid Geometry) and extrusion of 2D outlines. For the second modeling technique, you can also use the AutoCAD Drawing Exchange Format (DXF) file. You can also use STL and OFF file formats.

Wings 3D

Since 2001, Wings 3D has gathered a great community and positive reviews from a variety of user groups. Although Wings 3D doesn’t support animations, I am sure you are not looking for animation features either and except for that, Wings 3D is a nearly perfect, bloatware-free advanced subdivision modeler with Auto-UV mapping facility in-built. One of the best parts about this program is that it is open-source and you can use it however you like (personal or commercial).

Moreover, the Wings 3D also doesn’t lack in the support department. With an active online forum, plenty of documentation, and a development page with a GitHub account, you wouldn’t have to worry about issues.

Some Features:

  • An intuitive and simplistic user interface where most of the functions can be done with just your mouse
  • Symmetric modeling, edge loop, and edge ring selection, shear, bend, intersect, weld, plane cut and many more set of essential tools
  • 15 major languages available to provide convenience for users all around the world
  • Support for illuminations and materials, customizable UI, and regularly maintained/updated
  • The application is available on all the modern Windows, Mac, and Linux OSes for both 32 and 64-bit.

ZBrushCoreMini

ZBrushCoreMini is a sculpting focused software in which you can create compelling and artistic 3D models. As the name implies, many notable features in ZBrushCoreMini are taken from the original shareware version named ZBrush which is a 3/2.5D modeling and painting application. With ZBrush, you can create models with a high-resolution texture that is composed of 40+ Million polygons, which allows users to create animation, TV, movies, and AAA game level of artwork.

Initially released in 1999 by Pixologic, ZBrush is regularly updated while keeping the quality of patches in mind. It uses the ‘Pixol’ technology to get information for making the objects on your display.

Features:

  • Use the popular sculpting brushes from the original ZBrush software for unmatched quality
  • The Sculptris Pro feature automatically adds or removes polygons and adapts to your model
  • The Symmetry feature decreases the amount of effort by automatically mimicking one-side of your model to the other side if needed
  • You have eight different materials to choose from, and some of these also have the ability to add RGB colors to
  • iMage3D GIF and iMage 3D PNG lets you save and share your work as a normal GIF and PNG files respectively but whenever someone downloads the file and opens it in ZBrush, the data in the image lets the app reconstruct the whole work in 3D
  • Also supports 3D printing

Bforartists

Bforartists is based on the famous 3D software Blender. This software focuses on providing a better graphical user interface and convenience while making no compromises in terms of functionalities: Modelling, rigging, texturing, animation, rendering, post-processing. As this list contains apps best for everyone’s interest, we recommend Bforartists to hobbyists and indie developers rather than professionals as Bforartists target audience are casual modelers.

With a refined keymap and own ecosystem, it is safe to say that Bforartists is the only software you will ever need if you are an individual creator.

Some salient features that set Bforartists apart from Blender are-

  • All the features of Blender in a better layout
  • Colored icons which are easier to understand
  • Configurable toolbar with icon buttons which cannot be found in Blender
  • Increased readability with better tooltips
  • Add-ons that make the software more convenient: 3D view add-on/Set Dimension Add-on along with full support of Blender hotkeys
  • Easier and improved navigation with mouse and fewer hotkeys (only the important ones are there)
  • Write add-ons, improve or change the user interface with Python as Bforartists comes with full Python support
  • Various (conventional and unconventional) UV mapping methods

MyVirtualHome

MyVirtualHome is the most fun-to-use architecture software in this list. It is more of a personal house building software but you can still use it for designing offices, personal workspace, studios, and other kinds of buildings. MyVirtualHome is the most unique software in this bunch, it is more inspired by building simulator games rather than CAD. You have thousands of tools available in this app to design the 3D replica of any house.

MyVirtualHome provides a very simple interface with a lot of interesting features. Some notable features are as follows-

  • Choose and deploy room blocks, items, furniture
  • Modify and personalize your virtual home by adding/ changing color schemes
  • Take a virtual trip of your finished home in the first-person view to get the perfect idea of how it would look in real life
  • You can even decorate your surrounding garden and exterior in this app
  • Drag and drop feature makes things a lot easier and effortless
  • It takes less than 10 minutes to learn
  • Amazing shadow quality with real-time lighting effects and accurate lighting model

Conclusion

Each of this software is unique with its own salient set of features, make sure to use reliable websites. I have carefully picked them to suit everyone’s needs, so do let us know which one are you going for in the comments below. Your suggestions and queries are important to us, do mention them in the comments or contact us for the same.

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Bipul

Bipul is an undergraduate engineering student, who has used five different Windows releases over 8 years of him being a true PC enthusiast.

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