Architecture can be categorized using aspects like styles, timeline, etc. one such variation can be seen in the before and after software intervention. When we look for software developed specifically for the AEC industry, there are not many. Whereas, software that is shared by other fields of design is quite high in number. 

Architects have always needed to experiment with the software and decide what might suit them  better for the work at hand or specialization. In this article, we will explore the path less traveled in terms of architecture and software used. 

Below is a list of 10 software that is paving their way into architecture.

1. Autodesk Maya

Maya – this software has been with the animation department for quite a long time. Now, this software is gaining momentum in the field of architecture as it is easier to create models even without the help of scripting tools. It has started attracting the architecture fraternity worldwide. 

Initially, this was the tool used to create animated characters only. It’s fun to play around with simple geometric forms and see them transform shapes that are not easily attainable in other conventional software that architects use. Legendary firms like ZHA use Maya for their works. Students or personnel from the teaching fraternity can register with the Autodesk student community and gain access to use Maya for free.

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architecture using maya_©

2. Blender

A blender is an open-source software used for its graphics. Mesh modeling, sculpting, animating are few of its varied applications. Among the paid software’s ruling design fields, Blender is free to use without compromising on quality and functionality. Blender software has been the choice of hobbyists mostly, but it is slowly opening up and is becoming the choice of designers especially in architecture. 

There is still a lot to explore on how to adapt the potentials of this software for the use of architecture. Blender is one software that is a whole package, it can be used for modeling, rendering, and animation. 

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rendering using blender_©

3. Houdini

Houdini is a computational design software and a procedural generation tool. A software that is widely used by VFX companies. It can be used for modeling apart from animation. Houdini has a free version named Houdini Apprentice that can be used by students, artists, anybody to get the hang of the software. This software is being explored by computational designers of today and renowned architectural firms are already using this powerful tool to come up with interesting designs. 

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generative design using houdini_©

4. Zbrush

A digital sculpting tool used by designers. Its interface is simple to use hence a basic introduction is sufficient to start using the software to create marvelous creations. The level of intricacy that could be attained using the software is mind-blowing. If one wants to explore the software or wishes to do a hand-on before opting for it then Zbrush-core-mini is for them. Zbrush uses poly-meshes. 

Though the software can produce high-resolution models, its frequency can be varied anywhere between low to high. Architects are currently trying out this platform but the possibilities for it to be an architect’s tool are still to be worked out. 

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modeled using zbrush_©

5. Fusion 360

Fusion 360 is another Autodesk product that is available for free once registered with the student community (applicable only for students and teachers). It is CAD/CAM software. Predominately used in the field of mechanical or automobile engineering to model engines and design parts of the product. This tool has the advantage of both testing and fabricating models. It isn’t best suited for developing 2D drawings. One of the best when it comes to product designing tools.

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modeled in fusion 360_©

6. Python & C#

Popular coding languages for everyone who knows or has chosen computer science as their major. Python is used to script parametric algorithms and complex forms. It is used alongside Dynamo, or Rhino, or Grasshopper. A person who has a strong foundation in coding can choose to integrate that in their design field. 

When it comes to C#, it is quite a complex coding language that uses the Microsoft.NET framework. Though it is complex it doesn’t mean impossible. The power of C# is that it can code design tools from scratch. 

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python scripting for rhino_©

7. Unreal Engine

It is a free-to-use game engine when it’s not for commercial purposes. It has traveled by far in the gaming industry. As this is a game engine, it deals with all things in the gaming and designing like 3D, 2D, VR, AR, mobile, multiplayer. Unreal has the advantage of using visual scripter in alternative to coding making it a lot easier to work. 

Unreal is considered the best game engine in terms of graphics. But when coding, unreal uses C++, a language that is considered to be tough in the computing world. 

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rendering using unreal engine_©

8. Unity

Unity is another game engine that is widely considered to always compete with unreal engines. This engine doesn’t have the advantage for the users to use visual scripting but it uses C language for coding which is easier when compared to C++. This has got every feature that an unreal engine offers.

Unity doesn’t create any games other than small educational projects whereas an unreal engine is used to develop popular games like Fortnite.

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real time development in unity_©

9. Dynamo

Just like Grasshopper is a plugin used for scripting in Rhinoceros software, so is Dynamo for Revit. Dynamo uses graphic elements called nodes in alternative to scripting. It is a visual programming tool that is inclined towards the AEC industry. Dynamo helps to create complex forms easily without scripting and enhances BIM capabilities. It is easier to compile the data analyzed as it can be exported easily to an excel sheet. In short, it is a computational BIM design software.

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dynamo to create and analyse complex form_©

10. Cinema 4D

A software that is most suited for any visualization professionals. A tool that helps to create 3D models, animation, rendering, motion graphics, VFX, and AR/VR. It has a wide variety of features like parametric modeling, sculpting, volume-based modeling, etc. one-stop destination for all needs except for 2D. Cinema 4D allows students to use its software for free.  

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model created in cinema 4D_©

Software that architects are using right now were once like these software that were left unexplored. Somebody had to start experimenting and implementing them to help design and break free from the limitations that were imposed on architectural design. Now is the time to take another leap to keep up with the pace of other industries. When architecture can open its doors to so many allied fields, learning software gives the same leverage of opening up doors to other paradigms.


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Anon, (n.d.). Available at:

Anon, (n.d.). Available at:

Anon, (n.d.). Available at:

Anon, (n.d.). Available at:

Anon, (n.d.). Available at:

Anon, (n.d.). Available at:

Anon, (n.d.). Available at:

Anon, (n.d.). Available at:

Anon, (n.d.). Available at:


Stephy is an intrigued explorer of various paradigms of Architecture, choosing writing as a catharsis to her never ending thoughts.

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