What is the best 3D architecture software?


You are a professional architect ? To carry out all your construction and renovation projects, having good 2D or 3D architecture software is absolutely essential. However, at the start of its activity, it is rare to have an infinitely extensible budget. Fortunately, many free and open source tools exist on the market ! But how do you find the free architecture software most suited to your needs ? Simple tools to use in more advanced modeling solutions, including mobile applications and energy performance computers, are found today.

So discover our complete selection of the 16 best free 2D and 3D architecture software of the moment, with a description of their flagship functionalities !

What are the benefits of free architecture software ?

Since the arrival of digitalis in the building sector, software has increasingly had functionalities that can be adapted to all professions. For architectures, the integration of 2D and 3D design has undoubtedly revolutionized their approach to their construction and development projects.

Thanks to architectural software, the realization of the plans is not only simplified, but also allows the client to get a more concrete idea of the project. With BIM software, in particular, it is possible to create more real than nature 3D modeling and to collaborate more easily with the other stakeholders of a project.

Among the main functionalities of software for architect, we can cite:

  • Draw the 2D and 3D planes of a building by personalizing the elements of each room such as the thickness of the walls, the height under the ceiling and the location of the windows.
  • Develop the interior and exterior of the accommodation from a catalog of furniture, coatings or decorative accessories for a rendering very true to reality.
  • Modify and evolve plans as many times as possible until the client is fully satisfied with the project.

Depending on the tools, we can also find other interesting functionalities: calculating energy performance, simulating paint or even plotting plans for a part automatically using the smartphone camera.

Their complexity can vary greatly from one solution to another. It will then be up to you to choose according to your experience, as well as your technical and precision needs.

Top 16 of the best free 2D or 3D architecture software

It’s time to go in search of your future free architecture software ! Hand-operated, interface fluidity, functionalities, mobile version, specialization, performance … We are sifting through the characteristics of 16 modeling software in 2D or 3D among the most popular on the market.

1. KoziKaza, the free community architecture software

We start immediately with KoziKaza, online 2D and 3D plan software for the house. Its small feature is its participatory approach: to gain access to tools, you must first register and join the 2 million members of the KoziKaza community.

The idea is to be able to share your experience on designing and developing a house with other Internet users. As an architect, it is advisable to opt for a professional account, which will give you access to specific functionalities and a network of pros.

The software interface is pleasant, modern and easy to use. The design of the plans, via a drag and drop system, is organized around 3 main axes:

  • drawing the different elements of the rooms (walls, windows, stairs …);
  • the layout and layout of the building, playing on the floors, the height of the walls or the elevation of the doors;
  • interior decoration with the addition of furniture and accessories among the abundant KoziKaza library.

At each stage, you will have access to some well thought out functions, such as the possibility of making the walls transparent, alternating between 2D and 3D mode or even importing the walls of an existing dwelling by simply entering the address. In short, a very well done modeling tool, both suitable for pros and novices !

2. Sweet Home 3D, for realistic and personalized plans

Sweet Home 3D is free architecture software dedicated to downloadable interior design or accessible online. Created in 2005, this Open Source tool is now available in French and in 28 other languages.

From a blank or already existing plan, Sweet Home allows any novice to model housing easily. To do this, it offers various functionalities, including those of tracing walls (rights, rounded or underlay), integrating doors and windows using a slide-deposit system and documenting the plan using annotations, measurements and symbols.

It also has a catalog of fleshed out objects to add to the plan, classified by category: kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living room … Each element is 100% customizable in terms of color, texture, size, position and orientation. It is also possible to adjust details like sunlight to create realistic images and videos.

As the two-dimensional plan design is designed, the software displays the 3D rendering for aerial view or in the skin of a virtual visitor. You can then export your plans in PDF, in the form of vector and bitmap images, or in video format. Several plugins are also available if you want access to more advanced functionality.

Regularly updated, Sweet Home therefore remains a reference in the world of 3D modeling !

3. SketchUp, the free and intuitive 3D architecture software

We are continuing this quest for the best free architecture software with Sketchup. Originally, this online 3D modeling tool was edited by Last Software before being purchased by Trimble. It is suitable for all kinds of architectural projects: interior, exterior, houses, buildings, warehouses …

Unlike more conventional applications, Sketchup offers its users to design their plan directly in 3D. It provides various tools to work on the volume and shape of the object: extrusion, cutting, rotation, resizing, etc.

Once the plans have been drawn, a layout functionality makes it possible to enrich the appearance of the surfaces in order to get as close as possible to reality. In particular, you can add furniture, household appliances and many decorative details. For this, the tool is based on a large library of models created internally or offered by other users.

Extremely easy to take in hand, SketchUp focuses on the intuitivity of its interface and its simplicity of use. Its goal is to allow its users to visualize their projects by creating sketches quickly, without wasting time in frills.

4. QCAD, the open access CAD solution

In the category of DAO (Dicino Assisted by Computer) solutions, or CAO (Computer Aided Design), we find QCAD software. Available at open source, it offers an excellent alternative to AutoCAD software, which is paid for.

This 2D tool makes it possible to produce technical drawings such as building plans, mechanical parts, interior fittings, diagrams and diagrams. If it is intended for experienced users, its intuitive and well thought out interface also makes it accessible to beginners. They will also be able to take advantage of a mutual aid forum, and find many tutorials online.

Quite powerful, it has a nice range of functionalities quite suitable for professional use. Its library includes more than 4,800 CAD modules, 40 construction tools and 20 modification tools. Arcs, lines, circles, ellipses, polylines … The range of tools offers a wide variety of form options, as well as the possibility of adding quotes, text and images.

The files are exported in DXF and DWG format, two formats very widespread in the DAO universe. The only downside therefore remains the fact that it is in English (know that a section of the forum is however dedicated to French speakers).

5. ArchiFacile, the one who bears his name well

You are looking for a fairly basic tool for drawing up plans for a house or apartment ? So Archifacile is for you. Available both online and downloadable, this software may be suitable for users of Mac and PC, but also computers and tablets.

Despite its somewhat interface, this 2D architecture software has a satisfactory functional panel given its free access. After a quick registration, you can start drawing your plans immediately via its editing tool.

In a few clicks, you are erecting walls, adding stairs, openings (doors, windows) and shutters. An object library also allows you to arrange the interior of the rooms with furniture, kitchen elements, cars for the garage, etc.

Archifacile also proposes to measure dimensions and place quotes freely on the map. Finally, you can also calculate the surface of the parts to plan the paint work. Namely, that the plans are exported exclusively in PDF format

In summary, Archifacile is a practical and simple solution to use, ideal if you do not have big technical needs.

6. Blender, free 3D architecture and animation software

Difficult to miss Blender when you are interested in 3D modeling ! The history of this software is quite unusual: originally, Blender was a privately funded project for marketing. When its design costs became too great for its publishers, Blender was sold to the open source community which completed its development.

Today, this 3D modeling and animation tool is one of the most efficient in the open access market. He easily competes with industry giants such as 3D Studio Max from Autodesk. If it is not specifically dedicated to architecture and development projects, many professional architects use it.

Very complete, Blender embeds several modeling functionalities such as texturing, 3D sculpture and Bézier curves, but also 3D animation including the motion blur and the mapping. It also manages the processing of lighting (ambient occlusion and radiosity), the advanced creation of materials and the video composition. We could go on for a long time !

It is important to note that Blender is an advanced modeling solution, which requires advanced learning to take advantage of its functionality. This is worth it, really said the trouble, would only be for its absolutely impressive quality of rendering. A real must !

7. LibreCAD, to carry out technical plans in open source

We are continuing this selection of the best free 2D or 3D architecture software with LibreCAD. LibreCAD is an open source DAO solution allowing technical plans, construction documents and buildings as well as diagrams to be produced in 2D.

This free 100% software is available in 30 languages including French and downloadable under mac, linux or windows. It has a clear and rather simple interface to take in hand, where we find different tools to draw shapes and lines (circles, ellipses, segments, points, etc.), draw polynomial curves and create blocks.

A tracing system allows you to make different changes to the plan and alternate between versions easily. LibreCAD manages the DXF format and offers to export the files in bitmap (JPG, PNG) and vector (EPS) version.

Finally, LibreCAD’s biggest asset is undoubtedly its large user community, which regularly exchange on the site’s mutual aid forums. A blog (in English) is also available, as well as many tutorials on the net.

8. Cuclic, to draw kitchens in one click

Developed by Fly, a French furniture and decoration brand for the house, Cuiclic software specializes in the design of kitchens. Rather fun and suitable for beginners, it offers a creation process based in several stages.

You will first have to define the configuration of the part and position the openings and technical installations on the plane (water points, boiler, electrical outlets, etc.). The second step is to choose the style of the kitchen from the Fly catalog, after which the software generates a 3D representation

You can then add furniture and equipment, always via the brand’s product catalog. Finally, comes the finishing stage, with the choice of floor covering and walls, work plan or handles.

At each stage, Cuiclic provides guidelines and explanatory videos to guide you. If you wish, it then generates a quote in line with your project, which you can present in store. Please note, Cuiclic is not available online, it must be downloaded to its computer (Mac and PC).

9. MagicPlan, free mobile architecture software

Free mobile architecture software ? It’s done with MagicPlan. This innovative application, available on the App Store and Google Play, creates 2D and 3D plans, field reports and tariff estimates.

With its very modern and simplistic interface to use, MagicPlan is blowing a wind of renewal in the construction and interior renovation industry. In free version, the application offers multiple functionalities, including that of picking up the dimensions of a space using the camera of your smartphone.

For this, it’s very simple: just position yourself in the center of the room with the phone and turn slowly on yourself. The application then generates the plans automatically. It is then possible to adjust the measurements, write annotations and add furniture to the sketches.

The plans are exported in PDF or PJE format. Only downside, the files are marked with the MagicPlan logo, which can only be made disappear by subscribing to the paying subscription.

10. CassSC, to calculate the energy performance of a building

Developed by the agency Incub ’, CassSC is the acronym for” Simplified Calculations of Combined Solar Systems “. This free software allows not only to calculate the energy performance of a construction, but also the savings following the installation of a combined solar system for its heating and hot water needs.

First, it is necessary to describe the equipment and structure of the building as comprehensively as possible. From walls to ceilings through the type of floor, the volume of surfaces (habitable or not), the type of insulation or even ventilation. It is also possible to provide external data such as altitude, geographic location and citizenship with another building.

In a second step, the software generates a complete report on energy performance and the rate of greenhouse gas emissions. This report comes in the form of fairly detailed diagrams and tables and is accompanied by recommendations on the potential for savings to be made by installing a combined solar system.

We should welcome the very complete side of this energy calculation tool, but relatively complex for beginners. The interface, for its part, leaves something to be desired at the aesthetic level, and would deserve a little expense.

11. KoZiBox, the very precise energy calculation solution

We continue with KoziBox, software to simulate the heating and air conditioning consumption of a building. Let it be said frankly, looking at the outdated software interface is like taking a 15 year leap back.

But if we go beyond this detail, we quickly realize that this energy calculation tool is actually very complete and efficient. Based on the different parameters that you will provide, it is thus able to provide very precise results on the possible future consumption of a project.

Climate, volume of rooms, breakdowns, nature of materials, type of windows, walls and glazing, exposure, orientation of the building, internal loads … A lot of data is taken into account to calculate the most rigorous performance balance possible. . KoZibox then displays the results through various exportable graphs, and indicates the energy and power required to regulate the temperature of the building.

The free version of KoZibox provides access to all of the software’s functionality, except for data changes and only RT205 weather files. The price of the commercial version is € 250, which remains reasonable.

12. Archimist, tool 2 in 1 for thermal simulation and 2D planes

Archimist is two-in-one software, combining two tools: carrying out 2D plans and a thermal simulator to optimize the energy performance of your projects.

During the creation phase, you will be able to perform simple actions such as tracing walls, adding openings or even placing boilers and ventilation openings. The software manages the multi-storey buildings by displaying each floor on a separate plan, but with the possibility of drawing the load-bearing walls simultaneously to save time.

For each item added to the plan, Archimist requests to indicate the material by choosing from a list. A color code is then assigned to each material in order to identify them more easily. Once the materials are on the map, Archimist calculates the energy balance of the project and updates it in real time with each change.

Two points of view are possible: one in “heating” mode displaying temperatures and powers, and the other in “breakdown” mode with flow rates and rates. Collaborative, Archimist allows you to share your projects with your employees by email and activate the writing mode so that they can edit the plan directly.

Archimist is available in free version, although this is quite limited. To access more advanced functionalities (such as automatic generation of quotes), you will have to opt for one of the 3 paid plans (ranging from 35.40 € / month to 149.52 € / month).

13. Floor Plan Creator, free 2D and 3D architecture software on mobile

This top of the best free 2D or 3D architecture software is being pursued with another mobile application. Floor Plan Creator, only available on Google Play, allows you to easily design 3D housing plans.

Very precise, the application takes into account the floor dwellings. It is possible to draw pieces of all shapes (with straight walls) by hand and automatically calculate surfaces. You can also furnish each room by drawing from the application icon library, adding windows and doors.

Like its competitor MagicPlan, you will be able to map a space using the camera of a smartphone by placing yourself in the center of the room and turning on yourself. The advantage is that there is not even a need to move the furniture to get good results ! Floor Plan Creator then merges the plans for each room to generate the complete plan of the home.

In summary, Floor Plan Creator is a simple and effective tool, which, without allowing very extensive use, does the job very well.

14. Castorama, to easily calculate its material needs

Castorama, the famous DIY and home layout brand, has also developed a mobile app. Available under Android and Iphone, this is free and is used to calculate its material requirements for construction work.

Painting, varnish, tiles, paving, woodwork, seals, slats, screws …. Based on a simple 2D plan that you have created upstream, the application determines the exact amount required. No worries for novices, the plan is very easy to draw using an intuitive interface.

Whether it’s repainting a room, laying a parquet floor, installing a hood or building a fence for its garden, the Castorama application will advise you on many aspects of a project.

If it is rather intended for individuals, professionals will also be able to find their account there. Several video format tutorials are also made available, as well as a QR code system and online store access to easily find material references.

15. Tollens Color Design, the paint simulator

The last mobile app we’re going to talk about is Color Design, created by the paint maker Tollens. If Color Design is not 3D design software per se, it is a good addition to complete its architectural tool case.

The principle of this color simulator ? Find the ideal paint color for renovation and decoration projects. For this, Color Design allows you to take a picture of a wall plot or a specific area, then identify the corresponding color reference among the Tollens color chart.

From there, Color Design then generates a list of color suggestions in harmony with those in the photo. This will allow you to test different atmospheres, play with the tones of a room and check the chromatic consistency before deciding.

Once the simulation is complete, it is possible to share it with its customers, employees or with its provider if it is an individual. Of course, Color Design then redirects its users to the Tollens store for the purchase of the products. Very practical for its construction sites.

16. DraftSight, the professional solution of CAO 2D and 3D

And finally, we end with DraftSight, CAD software paying but offering a free 30-day test. Designed by the editor Dassault Systèmes, DraftSight is a very qualitative solution and used by many architects, which is why we considered it important to include it in this top.

If it can be suitable for neophytes, its advanced functions make it a tool more suitable for users with a little bottle. This will allow you to make, modify and annotate technical building drawings using a multitude of options.

Calque system, automatic quotes, script execution, support for dynamic blocks, cuts, thickness and various shapes (arcs, polylines, etc.) … its panoply of functionalities is impressive.

A simple click allows you to go from 2D to 3D (and vice versa). The software also manages DWG files, the conversion of DGN and BAK formats and the importation of PDF and SVG documents. Flexible, DraftSight is compatible with other Dassault System software.

After the free trial period, the subscription amounts to $ 199 / year. As long as you can afford it, it remains advantageous in view of all that it allows.

So much for this selection. In light of this information, we hope you have been able to identify the best free 2D or 3D architecture software for your business. The advantage of free education is that it is possible to try these different tools without worrying about paying a high price subscription if it does not suit you. One last piece of advice to help you make your choice: take the time to determine your needs well and make a complete list of the features you want as a priority. Good research !

You appreciated this article ? Discover our other comparison on the 10 best BIM software, free and paid in 2022

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