Top Apps for Architects

This collection of apps are some of the best and most valuable out there for anyone working within architectural services. Although the majority of those featured here are designed solely for the iOS platform, every time we collate lists such as these it’s clear that more and more high quality apps for the Android and Windows platforms are being developed. From condensed versions of large scale software packages that architects and designers use every day, to blank canvases to scratch ideas down onto, you might just find an app that could improve the way you work. Here are the top 10:

10) iRhino 3D / Droid Rhino

Although these two apps are created by different developers (both official Rhino partners), they both serve to view models created in Rhino3D on the go. Both feature the abilities to pan, zoom and orbit around complex 3D models before sampling and sharing them.

9) AutoDesk FormIt

This app, designed as part of the AutoDesk Revit software package, allows you to use real-world site information to help create forms in context and support early design decisions with real building data. Designed to create a continuous Building Information Modeling (BIM) workflow with Revit (by synchronising designs in the cloud), this app is both stable and technically refined.

8) PadCAD

Designed for small drafting projects such as home additions, small remodeling projects and site surveys, PadCAD produces “clean, clear drawings” from scratch, with the ability to then export them into a professional desktop CAD application (using standard file formats like DWG). Allowing for precise (if not basic) CAD drafting on the go, the developers believe that it is “ideal for general contractors, small architectural firms, and appraisers.”

7) AutoCAD 360

The iOS version of the official AutoCAD app has recently benefited from a fresh user interface, building upon the considerable abilities of the previous version. This app allows you to view and edit 2D or 3D drawings and, with an AutoCAD 360 subscription (which can be costly), allows files to work seamlessly between a whole range of devices and platforms.

6) SketchUp Mobile Viewer

With the announcement earlier this year that the next generation of Trimble’s SketchUp would incorporate Building Information Modelling (BIM) capabilities for the first time, SketchUp Mobile Viewer – launched in April of this year – allows for “on the go” access to SKP files. In addition, users have full access to browse and download every file on their 3D Warehouse.

5) Concept Idea Calculator

Getting instantaneous, accurate structural dimensions in the early stages of the design process, or even when exploring the feasibility of a project, can often be challenging. Concept, a pocket calculator which uses typical span-to-depth ratios for common steel, concrete and wood members, gives you a quick overview of what dimensions a certain structural idea will require. The app also includes project photos to give users an idea of how certain materials will be expressed in built form.

4) Morpholio Trace

This app allows users to instantly draw on top of imported images or background templates, layering comments or ideas to generate immediate, intelligent sketches that are easy to circulate. Part of a wider app development project, Trace consistently ranks as one of the most loved free sketching apps available.

3) Sun Seeker

With a flat view compass and taking advantage of augmented reality showing the solar path, it’s hourly intervals, the winter and summer solstice paths, sunrise and sunset times (and a lot more), this app is more than capable of assisting architects and in making important site and design decisions at every stage of a project.

2) Archisketch

This app seeks to streamline the experience of digital drawing and sketching with a smooth, cleanly designed app for iPad that not only allows you to import drawings and doodle over them, but also draw to scale. A recent update brought great new levels of functionality, though they’re still working to increase accuracy and improve features.

1) Arrette Scale

Allowing users to digitally review work by sharing ideas and drawings, Arrette Scale and Sketch welcomes incremental design changes drawn to scale without the need for printing reams of paper. Features like layering and being able to import base images from native iOS applications (such as Maps and Photos) brings a level of functionality not seen in other apps of Arrette’s class.

December 2014

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