3d visualization software in architectural design
(Click to expand images below)
Over the last decade or so, computer-aided design (CAD) software
has improved tremendously in quality and ease of use, even as its cost
has fallen dramatically.
It is now probably safe to say that all design firms can afford to invest
in CAD systems and all young architects
have been trained in CAD.
all professional design firms now use CAD in all steps of production,
especially for generating the two-dimensional plans, elevations, and sections that
form the basis of standard construction documentation.
However, "CAD" can also refer to three-dimensional (3D) design
software, and this is perhaps more
important and interesting to the architectural client and
relevant to the future of design.
Photo-realistic renderings and animated sequences produced with
3D CAD will allow you to see exactly what your project will
look like. You can explore the building's proportions and
materials, its roofline and massing,
its interior and exterior spaces, and its relation
to neighbouring buildings.
Even rudimentary 3D CAD models can be a valuable
design tool throughout the design
process, allowing you to quickly test out alternatives and
modify the design until it looks just right.
With the ability to accurately pre-visualize your project with 3D CAD,
you can avoid a lot of costly mistakes
and unpleasant surprises. Don't start the expensive construction process
until you are completely satisfied with the design and
know exactly what your project will look like!
An extraordinary south-facing hillside site with vertiginous views of Jay Peak was
recently acquired by a client who favours a Modernist architectural vocabulary.
The result is an open plan, oriented to the south and capped by a tilted roof plane.
Three floor levels are connected by a continuous spiral staircase. Service functions
are packed into the north side of the house; on the south side two double-height spaces
and a mezzanine 'bridge' reach out to the light and the view. Preliminary design studies: exterior view and cut-away perspective
Atelier Muir is developing a series of model houses for a new subdivision project. 3D CAD is being used
in the early stages of the design, in order to shape the rooflines, porches and overall massing.
The image on the left shows how a library of custom architectural components can be developed (columns,
windows, doors, etc.) and at the same time, scale devices (people, pets, chairs, cars, vegetation, etc.) can be
downloaded from the web in order to make the rendering more understandable. The second image shows how
the software can be used to create 2D elevations as well as more complicated 3D images that
display 2D floor plans in perspective. Sun shadows are instantly calculated for the selected date and time of date.
Materials such as shingles or clapboard can be easily applied and modified.
Atelier Muir is developing plans for a youth center in a Townships village. 3D CAD
is being used to study strategies for the overall volumetric massing and circulation patterns within the
four main zones: entry, administration offices, meeting rooms, and gym.
Exterior materials and colours can be adjusted instantly, during design meetings with the clients.
A series of views
can easily create an animation sequence that simulates the experience of driving up to the building.
Transparent views make it easier to visualize interior spaces and aid in fine-tuning the position
and size of windows. The image on the left shows how a preliminary rendering of the
building can be dropped onto a photograph of the site to approximate the final result.
In this cottage renovation and addition project,
a quick 3d computer model (left image) was enough to confirm that the roofline
concept was on the right track. The idea was to integrate the new wing
(right side) with the
small original structure (left side) by matching the roof angle
and having the roof planes merge on the far side. The
3d model also made it possible to precisely preview the
porch depth and window placement.
This simple computer model was generated in order to study the
angle of the pyramidal roof in this 41' square "Haiku" house which has
a continuous 7' wrap-around covered porch with no supporting columns. The height
of the peak of the roof was adjusted in the 3d model,
with the viewpoint set at the center
of the street, until the roof slope created the
desired visual proportion of roof mass to building mass.
This 3d computer model made it possible to do minute adjustments of the proposed house
and the garage relative to each other in
plan and in scale (left image). The software calculates shadows cast by the house
porches and the garage pergola. The resulting rendering is superimposed
over a photograph of the actual site to give a sense of the scale and context.
This three-story residence on Lake Champlain was inspired by a late
19th-century Shingle Style design by McKim, Mead and White. The 3d computer
model (left image) was used to calculate the shape and dimension of the roof structure
which is constructed with 32' pre-fab wood trusses hung from attic
girders. In fact, most of the house's framing components (beams, girders,
trusses, floor joists, etc.) were pre-fabricated and trucked to the site. A photo of a
shingled wall was used as a texture map to
generate the appearance of traditional shingle at the correct scale: 5 inches "to the weather."
Cut-outs in the porch roof show how skylights would bring extra light down to
the kitchen windows. Construction photo (right image) of framing.
For added realism, and a sense of drama, this rendering of the new
Bedford Pizzeria incorporates photos of customers coming
and going (left image). Spotlights are
added to simulate facade lighting at dusk. The brick texture is scaled accurately
to show the actual effect of standard 8" x 2 1/2" clay brick. The computer model
includes neighbouring buildings, making it a useful tool for studying the
urbanistic aspects of the project.
Actual site shown at right.
A preliminary computer model permits this winery project to be studied from all
angles, including aerial and interior views. Metal roofing is simulated
with parallel seams applied to the roof planes. Standing and
seated human figures help in the scaling of the dramatic porch overhangs.
Trees are rendered as transparent spheres in order to give a sense of the orchard
grid without obscuring the view. Data from a topographical survey is used to create
an accurate model of the slope to aid in the precise siting
of the building in the landscape, and the calculation of the optimal
route for the access road. Actual site shown at right.