The Best Free and Paid Architecture Software To Consider In 2024

The Best Free and Paid Architecture Software To Consider In 2024

Architecture is a science that is an intricate blend of creativity and complexity that has come a long way from the days of paper, pencils, and drafting tools. Today, Computer-Aided Design (CAD) is the de-facto standard in the industry.

That said, the architecture software of today does more than just help with the design aspect of the job. It also includes project management, flowchart, and diagram software, which play a critical role and help architects streamline their workflows, enhance productivity, and collaborate seamlessly with everyone involved. 

This blog lists the 10 best architecture software to use in 2024 to help you as architects take your designs and productivity up a few notches. 

What Should You Look For In Architecture Software?

Not all architecture software is built the same. The ‘best’ one for you will depend on what works for your specific workflow and needs.  Here are the key points you must consider when deciding which software to invest in. 

Feature set

Each software’s features and functional capabilities should be the primary focus when selecting software. Factors to consider here include:

  • Modeling capabilities 
  • Support for Building Information Modelling (BIM) integration 
  • Rendering and documentation capabilities 

Technical considerations

The next area of focus should be the technical aspects of each software. The key points to take into consideration are

  • Hardware and system requirements
  • Performance and stability of the software
  • Compatibility with other software in your current workflow
  • Scalability of the software ecosystem

Additional considerations

Over and above the points listed, here are more factors to consider before committing to a specific architecture software.

  • The learning curve and the availability of supporting documentation
  • Costs involved. Does the software have various subscription models that match your exact needs? Does the software come with a perpetual license? 
  • Security and data management capabilities of the software in question. 

With this in mind, let’s look at the best architecture software you should consider in 2024. 

The Best Architecture To Use In 2024

Now that you know what to look for in architecture software, let’s look at the best of them you should consider in 2024.

1. ClickUp

Track time, set estimates, add notes, and view reports of your time from anywhere with the global timer in ClickUp
ClickUp’s dashboard view

When discussing architectural software, the focus automatically shifts to software solutions used to design building models. However, effective management of time and resources is just as essential, and that is where ClickUp comes in.

ClickUp is an all-in-one platform that aims to eliminate app chaos and enable architects to manage all aspects of architectural design. One of the most valuable features for architects is ClickUp’s architectural templates, which will help you plan, organize, and coordinate architectural design projects efficiently.

Another feature that architects will appreciate is the ClickUp Whiteboards, which are visual collaboration tools that will allow you to create and share ideas, workflows, and roadmaps on a virtual whiteboard.

This feature also comes with several whiteboard templates that allow architects to organize and prioritize tasks based on individual project needs. In short, ClickUp is the best software for architects looking to save time on their design projects.

ClickUp 3.0 Whiteboards simplified
ClickUp Whiteboards’ view

ClickUp best features:

  • A one-shot shop for all things related to project management and collaboration
  • Super intuitive, user-friendly, and customizable interface
  • A feature-rich free version that’s great for smaller teams

ClickUp limitations:

  • Users feel that some of the features have a learning curve 

ClickUp pricing:

  • Free: Forever
  • Unlimited: $7/month per user
  • Business: $12/month per user
  • Enterprise: Contact for pricing
  • ClickUp AI: Available on all paid plans for $5 per Workspace

ClickUp rating and reviews:

  • G2: 4.7/5 (9000+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.7/5 (~4000 reviews)

2. SketchUp

SketchUp's layout interface
The layout interface in SketchUp Pro via SketchUp

SketchUp has an intuitive approach to 3D modeling, making it a popular choice for architects of all skill levels. Its user interface mimics drawing on a virtual napkin, with simple push-and-pull tools for controls.

This design software offers tiered pricing, making it suitable for all skill levels. The free version is accessible via the web, and each paid tier after that grants you access to better features, such as a desktop 3D modeler, Sketchup’s 3D warehouse, BIM capabilities, and professional-level rendering capabilities via Chaos’ V-Ray.

SketchUp best features:

  • Simple and intuitive UI that makes this software easy 
  • SketchUp has a large and actively growing community of users who  develop and share models, materials, and extensions that boost the design capabilities of this tool
  • Supports extensions allowing you to add AI-powered tools to aid the design process. 

SketchUp limitations:

  • Does not have a built-in rendering or animation engine and needs external tools or extensions to create realistic renders
  • Limited support for parametric design, making changes to a design down the line difficult

SketchUp pricing:

  • SketchUp Go: $119 per annum
  • SketchUp Pro: $349 per annum
  • Sketchup Studio: $749 per annum

SketchUp ratings and reviews:

  • G2: 4.5/5 (1000+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.5/5 (1000+ reviews)

3. AutoCAD

A spiral staircase designed using AutoCAD
Spiral stairs designed with AutoCAD’s architectural toolset via AutoCAD

AutoCAD is one the best architecture software programs available today and needs no introduction. It was first released in 1982 and has become a mainstay for remodeling professionals, civil engineers, and interior designers.

The dedicated architecture toolset makes AutoCAD a preferred architectural software for advanced users, which, according to a study by Autodesk, can boost productivity by an impressive 61%.

This toolset features specific tools that automatically generate commonly used architectural objects such as floor plans and elevations.

AutoCAD best features:

  • AutoCAD includes a dedicated architectural toolset with over 8800 components
  • AutoCAD also supports 2D and 3D modeling along with the ability to switch between them in real-time, allowing for design visualizations from different perspectives

AutoCAD limitations:

  • Requires powerful hardware to work with large projects or complex designs
  • Needs a high initial investment and a recurring subscription fee

AutoCAD pricing:

  • $245 per month

AutoCAD ratings and reviews:

  • G2: 4.4/5 (1000+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.7/5 (~3000 reviews)

4. Revit

Revit's design interface
The design interface of Revit shows the 2D and 3D versions of the model side by side via Autodesk

Revit is another architecture software from the house of Autodesk. While AutoCAD is a CAD software, Revit is a BIM solution better suited for architectural design.

Unlike AutoCAD, which requires manual creation and updating of multiple views, Revit can automatically generate floor plans, elevations, sections, and other views from a single 3D model.

Revit also has new features, such as the ability to analyze and create simulations of various aspects of a building, such as energy, lighting, structure, and ventilation. It also supports collaboration and coordination among multiple users and disciplines.

Revit best features:

  • Revit’s support for parametric creation and modification of components
  • Easy integration with AutoCAD is a big plus
  • Being a part of Autodesk, you get access to a host of add-ons and plugins

Revit limitations:

  • Rivet’s built-in libraries are not its strongest suit
  • Pricing is on the expensive side and may not suit relatively smaller projects

Revit pricing:

  • Revit Subscription: $193 per month (when billed annually)

Revit ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.5/5 (800+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.6/5 (400+ reviews)

5. LibreCAD

User interface of LibreCAD
The default user interface of LibreCAD via LibreCAD Wiki

LibreCAD is a simple yet powerful CAD software that excels in 2D modeling. While it cannot be termed intelligent software compared to the other solutions on this list, it is an excellent tool to depend on when on a tight budget.

Its clean, AutoCAD-inspired interface makes it instantly familiar, allowing you to jump right in and craft precise floor plans, elevations, and sections. 

LibreCAD also supports additional features that enable you to organize your drawings into layers, blocks, and attributes, which can be a boon when designs become complex.

LibreCAD best features:

  • LibreCAD is free to use, with no hidden fees or limitations
  • Available in over 30 languages
  • Runs on MacOS, Linux, and Windows

LibreCAD limitations:

  • Supports only 2D design
  • Limited features, especially for architectural design

LibreCAD pricing:

  • Free (open source)

LibreCAD ratings and reviews:

  • G2: 3.8/5 (~25 reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.1/5 (~50 reviews)

6. Blender

Blender's interface
Overview of Blender’s interface via YouTube

Blender is a powerful CAD software that does not have a hefty price tag. It’s an intuitive tool that seamlessly blends 2D and 3D modeling, rendering, and animation in one package, enabling a design team to get from ideation to a complete model without switching software.

Although this free architecture software does have a steeper learning curve when compared to a few others on this list, its thriving community provides a wealth of plugins, tutorials, and resources to fall back on.

Blender best features:

  • Uses three rendering engines, Eevee, Workbench, and Cycles, that together can produce high-quality and photorealistic models and animations
  • The large and active community of developers and users contributes to the software’s development and improvement

Blender limitations:

  • Blender’s unique interface is on the complex side and has a steep learning curve
  • May not support precision or accurate modeling, which is required for for architecture

Blender pricing:

  • Free-to-use software with paid add-ons

Blender ratings and reviews:

  • G2: 4.6/5 (250+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.7/5 (~900 reviews)

7. OpenSCAD

OpenSCAD interface
OpenSCAD’s script-based modeling interface

OpenSCAD is a script-based architectural design software. Its learning curve is steeper than that of all the other architecture software on this list. But once you master it, you can create highly accurate and realistic models.

OpenSCAD is a free tool, and its parametric modeling capabilities are the one area where it outshines other popular software in this niche. This software supports various import and export file formats, such as STL, DXF, OFF, and SVG.

OpenSCAD best features:

  • OpenSCAD’s script-based modeling offers unmatched levels of control over the design process
  • Being a parameter-driven model makes this software perfect for those complex designs that have to meet tight tolerances

OpenSCAD limitations:

  • The lack of interactive modeling makes it less intuitive and user-friendly when compared to the other software
  • Cannot handle complex graphics, such as textures and materials
  • Requires extensive coding knowledge

OpenSCAD pricing:

  • Free (Open Source)

OpenSCAD ratings and reviews:

  • G2: 4.3/5 (30+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 3.5/5 (2 reviews)

8. InDesign

Adobe Indesign homepage via Adobe

Adobe InDesign is not a modeling software, nor does it have BIM capabilities. It is a powerful tool in your architecture software arsenal as it is good at visual storytelling. As you might already know, advertising and marketing play equally crucial roles in architecture as design and modeling.

InDesign can help improve the visual appeal of construction drawings with its vast library of design templates, wireframe templates, and design assets tailored for architectural projects.

Being a part of the Adobe ecosystem also allows you to seamlessly integrate and harness the capabilities of Adobe’s Photoshop and Illustrator to deliver impressive projects effectively and efficiently.

InDesign best features:

  • Features such as Master Page, Auto Style, and Text Frame fitting help create highly polished documentation
  • Integration with Adoble’s creative suite helps harness the hyperrealistic rendering capabilities of Photoshop or vector creation and editing capabilities of Illustrator

InDesign limitations:

  • Adobe’s subscription-based model can work out to be expensive for some users 
  • Limited compatibility with software outside of Adobe’s ecosystem
  • InDesign is also a resource-heavy application

InDesign pricing:

  • Single App: $29.99 per month

InDesign ratings and reviews:

  • G2: 4.6/5 (3000+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.8/5 (~250 reviews)

9. Archicad

ArchiCAD's interface
ArchiCAD’s interface displays all projects that are being worked on via Graphisoft Community

Archicad has been a cornerstone of the architecture industry for over four decades. It was the first CAD software capable of 2D and 3D modeling and the first to bring about BIM capabilities in personal computers. 

Its built-in rendering engine and user-friendly interface give professional architects the creative freedom to realize any design idea. Its BIM capabilities help create and maintain a practical collaborative environment that makes delivering projects of all sizes a breeze.

Archicad best features:

  • Archicad is a purpose-built BIM software with all the necessary features.
  • Offers a high degree of customization in terms of interface and toolsets to match unique workflows
  • Provides flexibility and plays well with software like SketchUp and Adobe suite of products

Archicad limitations:

  • Limited features in the free version when compared to rivals
  • Poor customer support and limited availability of learning sources

Archicad pricing:

  • BIM Cloud: $40 + tax per month
  • Archicad Collaborate: $160 + tax per month

Archicad ratings and reviews:

  • G2: 4.6/5 ~250 reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.5/5 (~270 reviews)

10. V-Ray

Interior rendered using V-Ray
A rendering of the interiors using V-ray via Chaos.com

V-Ray is a 3D rendering plugin that can produce photorealistic 3D models and animations of your architectural designs. It is a great tool for architecture projects as it is compatible with numerous CAD architecture software programs such as Revit, SketchUp, and 3ds Max, to name a few.

Apart from the industry standards regarding features, V-Ray has complex modeling capabilities such as adaptive ray tracing and scene intelligence that allow it to create hyperrealistic complex projects.

V-Ray also supports various file formats, such as DWG, OBJ, and FBX, allowing users to work seamlessly across various architecture software.

V-Ray best features:

  • Photorealistic renders
  • Tons of options to customize and fine-tune the output
  • Compatibility with various rendering software such as SketchUp, Rhino, 3D’s Max, and more.

V-Ray limitations:

  • Steep learning curve
  • Long rendering times

V-Ray pricing:

  • V-Ray Solo: $38.90 per month (if billed annually)
  • V-Ray Premium: $57.90 per month (if billed manually)
  • V-Ray Enterprise: $49.40 per month (billed annually)

V-Ray ratings and reviews:

  • G2: 4.5/5 (90+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.8/5 (~25 reviews)

Design to Delivery—Optimize Your Entire Architectural Workflow

If you are looking for the best architecture software for its design capabilities, you have many of them. This comprehensive list covers everything from free to paid software tools and their best features and limitations to help you decide what will work best for your unique requirements.

However, if you are in the market for one tool that can help you streamline your entire architectural workflow, including construction management—check out ClickUp. Its out-of-the-box solutions will help you enhance your productivity and help you take your business to new heights.

Sign up for ClickUp’s ‘Free Forever Plan’ to learn more.

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