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12 Best Architecture Software Programs for Beginners

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What is the best architecture software program for beginners?
The best architecture software program for beginners is Esri CityEngine. Esri CityEngine provides all the essential tools for architecture beginners, along with advanced capabilities like 3D production and rendering, at budget-friendly pricing schemes for power users when they are ready for them. The software takes community perspectives at a premium, which helps architects identify with the needs of the community and create lasting projects.

The exacting demands of engineering, function and esthetics ensure that the next Le Corbusier or Frank Lloyd Wright among beginning architects will need more than plain pen and pencil to create enduring structures that communities would love to see in their midst. They need excellent architecture software that could channel the depth of their math understanding, knowledge of era-defining interpretations of structural design while adhering to the flow of building codes as they come and go. And they need software pricing that would not burn a hole in their pockets while leaving ample room for them to grow. If you are that aspiring architect, you also need to consider how the vendor is poised to adapt to changing technologies and how fast they can deliver them to you.

In this article, we will present 12 of the best architecture software program for beginners to help you narrow down your search to at least one or two. If you have tried it yourself without any further help from a resource like this, then you know how daunting the task before you can be. For example, architecture software can now be delivered via the cloud, but you would hardly know that if you are only familiar with the traditional names in this software category. Aside from purely CAD applications, you may also consider support applications to facilitate faster collaboration and communication, to getting your projects done at the earliest time possible.

architecture programs

As virtual reality for architecture finds wide application, it’s easy to point out, in retrospect, that architects should have been the ones to see its massive potential rather than the entertainment and gaming industry. Virtual reality is first and foremost about immersive structures and spaces that you can interact with, precisely what architecture is essentially about. If the gaming and entertainment industry can produce the oohs and aahs about realistic gameplay environments, what more the architects presenting virtual homes and interiors to expectant homebuilders?

But architects seeing the potential of VR technology are never too late seeing the light, and prototypes are coming in faster with the help of this technology. The realistic depiction of structural elements within the presentation allows architects and clients to spot flaws and misses immediately, brought into prominence by Project Correl, for example.

Project Correl is the next level in VR, allowing multiple collaborators in a machine-generated space. With multiple stakeholders able to exist in a virtual structure, issues are ironed out and addressed in the quickest time possible, eliminating the need to pass around multiple documents and proofs for approval and the like. It’s the perfect complement for an outstanding construction management software that informed partners are employing in their own works.

Virtual reality in architecture is also logically connected to smart buildings and structures, which is one of the hottest building technologies in currency. Smart buildings allow people, appliances and buildings to connect in myriad ways, making it possible to regulate operations and the building’s environment for maximum comfort.

It’s infinitely flexible, easily sustainable, and does not get in the way of how residents typically function about the structure. The discreet design follows the traditional idea of home without extraneous intrusions.

Architects who wish to push their names at the forefront of their profession could not afford to miss these continually developing technologies.


12 Best Architecture Software Programs for Beginners

1. Esri CityEngine

Esri CityEngine dashboard example

Topping our 12 best architecture software programs for beginners, Esri CityEngine offers a basic version for beginners and more advanced edition for expert users. It allows users to create thoughtfully designed buildings that enhance communities around them. Powered by a 3D production and visualization tool, the software helps urban planners, architects, entertainment and game studios to render realistic cityscapes or share with ArcGIS online.

The unprecedented 3D details allow designers to evaluate the feasibility of structures before they move to the next phase of actual development. The details are powered by a professional modeling engine along with robust procedural technology, features that will keep advanced users busy while creating stunning 3D cities. If you are faced with repetitive tasks for any project detail or its assessment, Esri CityEngine makes it easy to customize the interface and create automatic workflows, making your life easier.

Detailed Esri CityEngine Review

Esri CityEngine eliminates the need to generate 3D cityscape designs and models from scratch: you can simply feed the system any available Geographical Information Systems (GIS) data, attributes, 2D data, create procedure rules and the software will do the rest. Urban planners can simply alter rule parameters and see the overall effect on the resulting 3D scapes.

The easy-to-use software is available for Linux, Mac and Windows users. Pricing is by quote once you contact the vendor.

2. CorelCAD

CorelCAD dashboard example

A venerable name in graphics applications, Corel dives into professional computer-aided design with CorelCAD, which helps architects and other design professionals to create 2D and 3D structures with technical precision. Beginners and experts alike will find the software easy to handle, allowing them to represent their visual ideas faithfully and facilitate faster and more efficient execution and collaboration.

CorelCAD allows beginners to work with 2D materials and transform them into 3D rendering, with easy editing provided by polar guides, object snaps, grips and powerful 3D modeling tools. Beginners will also find helix tools useful for creating 2D spirals, drawing constraints and dimension tools when they need accurate measurements.

Detailed CorelCAD Review

Support for DWG file format and other CAD applications allows users to share and collaborate with expert colleagues and stakeholders. You can start using the application for USD 699 per user, with a mobile implementation that you can use to generate quick sketches when you find yourself in a remote location.

3. Floorplanner

Floorplanner dashboard example

Aspiring or new architects who want to get their hands dirty on interior design will like how Floorplanner combines ease of use and thoughtful features to make the most of available interior space in both workplace and home settings. Through the cloud-based application’s flash programming technology, architects and clients can play with wall and flooring ideas, furniture and decorative objects in an interactive dashboard environment.

3D room designs, living room and kitchen plans come alive following precise measurements, free in the basic plan or just USD 14.95 per user per year on the PLUS plan. The application provides a library of objects to go with rich tutorials so users can make the most of the program right away.

Detailed Floorplanner Review

It also allows you to export your design ideas to PDF, great for easy sharing and collaboration. It offers branding and comes with an iPhone or iPad app for times you have to work remotely.

4. SmartDraw

SmartDraw dashboard example

Architecture is not all about stunning exterior and interior designs—it is also about technical diagrams and flowcharts for times when architects have to deal with the inner layout of buildings to make them functional and useful for the structure dwellers within. SmartDraw is one such tool, and it also helps beginner architects work out their organizational charts and other visual presentations to give them a complete picture of their projects.

Visual plans from electrical circuits to roof visuals allow architects to plan their strategies carefully and efficiently from the beginning. It helps them communicate their ideas better, and using such tools make their learning process less steep than if they were using simple pencil and paper resources.

Detailed SmartDraw Review

With SmartDraw, architects have a choice of schematic diagrams, graph-based diagrams or chart-based diagrams to express their ideas better. If you are going to use this alone, you can start using the application for a one-time license purchase at USD 297 value.

5. Home Designer

Home Designer dashboard example

Home Designer is simple enough for homeowners and beginner or expert architects to generate simple to stunning 3D home designs and interactive floor plans. Users can try out multiple remodeling ideas, generate and move around furniture any way they like and make the most of 3d modeling for realistic visualization and evaluation.

Beginner architects will find Home Designer a versatile resource for design ideas from their tablets when they are on site or in the comforts of their offices or homes. Full drag-and-drop functionality makes it a perfect complement for the application’s rich library of brand name or generic appliances, furniture, cabinets and fixtures allowing you to see how your final design plans would look after the project works are completed.

Detailed Home Designer Review

Architects and personal designers can start using the application for USD 49 per year under the RoomSketcher VIP plan. More advanced features are available through the Pro and High-Volume plans.

6. Planner 5D

Planner 5D dashboard example

Beginner architects and non-expert designers need no further complex technical skills to prompt Planner 5D to generate lovely 3D and 2D house designs complete with floor and decoration plans, along with other interior design elements. It integrates manufacturer catalogs from the likes of IKEA so you can inject more realism into your idea of a dream house, or just ask your client for input and work it out with them through high-resolution images.

Planner 5D works its powerful engine so you don’t have to sweat it out combing resources for creative floor plans home design ideas. You can start with snapshots and wait for the software to deliver its renders in fantastic 3D models. Joysticks and gridlines make for easy control, while an advanced Augmented Reality (AR) Ruler lets you adjust your plans any way you like.

Detailed Planner 5D Review

You will have to go for the free trial run in order to test the application firsthand. If you find the software is just what the doctor ordered, you may contact the vendor and negotiate a quote with them.


ARCHICAD dashboard example

Beginner architects who like to jump ahead and feel like accomplished architects already can get their hands on ARCHICAD and see how a Building Information Modeling (BIM) platform actually works. They will appreciate how a leading architectural software handles projects from start to finish, from planning, through design to actual implementation and facilities management.

Available on Windows, Mac and mobile devices, you can opt to have the software on your premises or access it on the internet. BIM cloud gets you on the front seat of a revolutionary tool that provides real-time BIM collaboration environment. For your mobile device of choice, there’s BIMx that allows for BIM visualization.

Detailed ARCHICAD Review

Offering a free trial and a quote-based plan, ARCHICAD provides beginner architects the advanced tools that they will need to make it in their chosen profession.

8. Bluebeam PDF Revu

Bluebeam PDF Revu dashboard example

Working on multiple design projects could be a chore for beginner architects. With Bluebeam PDF Revu, they can turn any document in their hands into multi-dimensional PDFs to make it ready for annotations and markups by other team members, ensuring that works progress according to initial plans and specifications.

With support for 2D and 3D PDFs via plugins, any number of users will find it easy to collaborate on works using various file formats. If work involves a large batch of documents, the software lets users create hyperlinks for any batch so documents could be accessed easily.

Detailed Bluebeam PDF Revu Review

Revu for iPad, at one-time USD 9.99 value, lets you access the software via your iOS device, while Revu for Mac comes at one-time USD 199 per seat price.

9. SketchUp

SketchUp dashboard example

SketchUp is an easy-to-use CAD software that provides animations, lighting effects, textures and 2D and 3D models for your interior and other house design needs. The push and pull technology behind the software makes design work as intuitive as working with pen and paper, allowing users to come up with finished projects in the most efficient and timely manner.

Working with SketchUp recalls painters armed with colorful palettes. The application’s versatile palettes are easily customizable, allowing you to rearrange them or add and remove items as you see fit. If you feature list cluttering your workspace and getting in the way you work, you will like how SketchUp instead presents large icons in an orderly manner, letting you focus on the work at hand.

Detailed SketchUp Review

SketchUp is free for personal use, a great value if you are still mastering the arts of your architectural profession. Businesses can choose from the Shop plan at USD 119 per year or the USD 299 per year, the last provided with all the advanced 3D models to produce stunning output.


ZWCAD dashboard example

ZWCAD gives beginner architects familiar ribbon or classic interface, standard alias and CAD commands to eliminate learning costs, support for DWG and DXF file formats for optimum compatibility, and innovative smart tools that incorporate technologies in wide currency today. These include a barcode and QR code conversion tool, Smart Select and Smart Voice modules among others.

Its 2D drafting tools let you insert and work with standard PNG, JPEG and BMP image formats, manipulate blocks as a group, use table for a range of applications or attach multi-leader annotations and more. Users also have access to more advanced tools like Dynamic Block, Match Property, File Compare, Object Isolation or Super Hatch to allow for more options in quickly designing structures.

Detailed ZWCAD Review

More advanced users can appreciate the 3D modeling engine with multiple output format support and STB/CTB plot style printing.

These and many more features await clients once they negotiate with the vendor a quote for all the tools that they need in one neat package.

11. CMS IntelliCAD

CMS IntelliCAD dashboard example

A reasonably priced single-user perpetual license at just USD 249.95 gets you CMS IntelliCAD with all the standard features, tools and file format support that you expect from more expensive CAD programs.

Moreover, beginner architects will be happy to have BIM platform support in this software, ensuring that their purchase gets them ahead in optimum usability.

If a cloud-based application is more to your liking, you can access the CAD application through the internet with a USD 199.95 yearly subscription, eliminating the need to invest in additional hardware to make room for the design solution. For that, you get support for working with legacy AutoCAD file formats without missing details.

Detailed CMS IntelliCad Review

CMS IntelliCAD provides powerful 3D solids modeling, LISP and ADS support. The 3D rendering is high quality and photo-realistic, and you get a familiar ribbon interface in your workspace, eliminating steep learning curve to start using the application.

12. Coohom

Coohom dashboard example

Harnessing the full power of a speedy rendering engine, cloud-based Coohom lets you enjoy a full 3D modeling software without the necessity of purchasing powerful computing hardware and being stuck with costly software licenses. The powerful engine makes it easy to design homes and interiors at record time, made even more accessible through the use of intuitive dashboard and drag-and-drop 3D elements on an uncluttered working environment.

You can start designing your dream house and floor plan by uploading any model of your choice, or simply run the 3D model library and tinker with the vast number of elements included in the package. You get full lighting settings, unlimited renders and 720-degree rendering in the Free version, a compelling bargain when you consider how much you would have to pay for these features with other offerings.

Detailed Coohom Review

An upgrade to just USD 30 per month gets you all the basic features along with 200 4K rendering capability and removal of Coohom Branding. The Enterprise plan adds embedding functionality and an inventory management tool.

Finding Your Way in Architecture

These 12 best architecture software programs for beginners point you in the right direction, but you should also consider looking up if a free trial is offered and running it until you are convinced that it’s just what you need. It goes a long way seeing how the application runs in real time and delivers what it says on the paper.

As mentioned previously, architecture works closely with other professions. Beginner architects can learn from developments in other fields. For one, they can benefit from the impact of technology in graphic design software, which also incorporates many elements found in architecture software. Here they can pick innovative design ideas and apply them to designing buildings and the spaces within.

Architecture also marches along with advances in artificial intelligence software and robotics, which suggests that smart machines and indeed even robots will find greater presence in the architectural and construction trades, from drafting to actual structure construction.

As a budding architect, you will also find multiple opportunities to grow your practice to an active business later on. Sprawling architectural firms started this way. They did not get there by chance, however. The business can be overly competitive, with multinational companies competing for similar projects. If this is the direction you foresee in your life, a little immersion in business intelligence software can help you find a solid footing when you decide to finally enter the fray.

Nestor Gilbert

By Nestor Gilbert

Senior writer for FinancesOnline. If he is not writing about the booming SaaS and B2B industry, with special focus on developments in CRM and business intelligence software spaces, he is editing manuscripts for aspiring and veteran authors. He has compiled years of experience editing book titles and writing for popular marketing and technical publications.

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