Hi, first lets be clear! If you are an architect, landscape architect, urban designer, or anything related to this, you need to know how to draw and understand space. That is why you go to architecture school.
There will never be a program that will replace your ability to think and design architectural spaces.
That being said, there are tools that can help you represent your ideas in a much, productive, efficient, faster, and sometimes realistic way, Lets see some of the programs any architect should know.
Architecture software can be divided into 5 categories. BIM software, 3d modeling software, drafting software, render engines and graphic enhancement software. The majority of these programs are not used only for architecture related things, but they are very used in architecture schools, architecture offices and in other fields as well.
If you are an architecture student take into account that you dont have to be a master in ALL of these programs, but you do have to have a basic knowledge of them and understand which are the most used according to what you want to do in the future.
Lets start with bim software, there may be many more but we can say that the ones dominating the market are archicad and revit. Archicad was the fist bim software, and revit followed it some years later.
They are very similar in its functions, perhaps the main difference is that revit, since it is a part of autodesk, has major compatibility with other autodesk programs, while Archicad doesn’t. And also, for MAC operating sistems, archicad is the dominant winner, revit to this date is not very compatible with macs os.
These programs are known to be very time efficient and productive. While some people would first draw a floor plan, then a section, then a construction detail, the import it to a 3d program to be modeled and rendered.
You can do all of this in revit or archicad When you are drawing a wall, you are at the same time modeling it in a 3d space, and deciding its materials, and having it ready for an architecture detail.
If you want to learn an architecture program, definitely start with a bim software.
Sketchup, Rhino, 3D MAX, and blender are some of the most used 3d modeling programs in the architecture industry.
Sketchup has the advantage of perhaps being the most “easy to use” program of the bunch with a much more intuitive workflow.
Rhino can be seen as the one with more parametric abilities for designing, with extensions like grasshopper that can help you model and design very intricate patterns and projects.
3d max is also a bit complex to some, but it has the advantage to being able to adjust almost anything in a very milimetric way, we can say this is the preferred in the arch viz industry.
We could say that these are the grandfathers of all of the programs that we see nowadays, this is how many of our teachers did their plans back in the days! No mouse! just a keyboard and typing in commands! haha
Autocad and vectorworks are mainly 2d drafting programs that are still very heavily used in many places around the world.
They are very easy to use programs, that have the advantage of being compatible almost everywhere. You can also render and model in 3d here, but it is not their specialty.
We can also call this category the cosmetic area! haha Here you can also find very basic engines, to real state of the art programs that can confuse your render with a photo.
There are real time rendering software, and there is also normal rendering software. Among the most used in the arch industry are vray, corona, and lumion for a real time rendering.
It is recommended you know the basics of these programs to work in an architecture office, but if you definitely want to stand out from the crowd, dominating them will be a huge plus in your resume!
Finally we have come to the software that is not directly architecture focused, but it helps a ton when finishing your projects. Phothosop, illustrator, indesign, etc.
I think by now every architect should know the basics of these programs.
Try doing diagrams on illustrator, renders in photoshop, and your presentation boards in indesign. That is the workflow that many offices use and that is more efficient to the workflow.
If you have ever wondered how I can make so many tutorials, it is because of programs like these! Photoshop is seriously the best program ever for me.
If it was for me I would do everything in photoshop! i love it ! haha but seriously, it is really helpful
So as you can see, there are a ton of programs to choose from. Here we do not decide which one is the best! but we give you an idea of your choices.
If you are an architecture student, I really recommend, revit, photoshop, sketchup, vray and indesign.
If you want to work in a major architecture office, i recommend going into their website and looking up what programs they use, and learn it.
In the end, they are all just tools, the real skills are in your head!