Top 11 Best Free Architectural Design Software (2023)

Architectural design software enable users to virtually create spaces of any size and purpose without the help of a construction company. It is possible to draw a 2D drawing or 3D image of a house, apartment, office or playground using special design tools.

These architecture software assist in visualizing how a property will look after construction. This also applies to the remodeling of an apartment or the interior design.

Top 11 Free Architectural Design Software

  1. SketchUp - For 3D designs
  2. AutoCAD - To create representative drafts
  3. Sweet Home 3D - Open-source interior design app
  4. SmartDraw - For building diagrams and schemes
  5. FreeCAD - Modular 3D parametric modeler with BIM tools
  6. FloorPlanner - Easy 2D/3D floor plan drawing
  7. Revit - Multi-disciplinary and collaborative BIM-approach
  8. Blender - For 3D modeling and compositing
  9. TAD: The Architect's Desktop - Open-source interior design app
  10. My Virtual Home - 3D home design planner
  11. actiTIME - Time tracking software with intelligent data

Based on availability criteria and architectural problem setting, here are various 3D architecture software including open-source, floor-planning, general-purpose CAD or BIM (building information modeling) in order to make your choice easier.

1. SketchUp

Vast marketplace of extensions

  • Videos creation, professional plugins
  • Layer management, animations and 3D models
  • Lighting effects, textures, customizable palettes
  • Offers exchange repository
  • The free version is basic, web-browser only
  • Recognition of uneven shapes and rendering

Verdict: This architectural design software freeware operates from schematic design to construction documentation and serves as an intuitive CAD solution for creating and editing 2D and 3D architectural projects, interior models, furniture and landscapes. With the title blocks, users are capable of drawing plans, facades and sections, building details and completing them.

SketchUp provides numerous add-ons and a forum. It isn’t difficult to learn and generates clear 3D pictures. Each object, surface and material has a unique texture. Its straightforward interface will appeal to architects, designers, builders and engineers at any stage of construction design.

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2. AutoCAD

Sophisticated architectural tools

  • Drawing documentation and annotation
  • Supports import of Revit grids
  • Styles browser and tool palettes
  • AEC object styles and database
  • Free only for students and teachers
  • Paid toolkits

Verdict: AutoCAD is extensively used by specialists for effective development, creation of designs and standard documentation. You are unlikely to encounter compatibility problems unless you have used AutoCAD crack. If you start experimenting with layers and line weights, you will receive a decent project with standard drawing conventions and measurable design details.

Another version is AutoCAD Architecture, an integrated toolset adapted to the needs of the architect. The created drawings will demonstrate real behavior, will take shape and structure. This architecture design software free incorporates AEC objects (windows, doors) as design elements and employs them to create realistic and spatially oriented three-dimensional real estate floor plans.

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3. Sweet Home 3D

Measurements of fixtures

  • Multilingual, open-source, expandable via plugins
  • Print and export PDFs, bitmap, videos, 3D
  • Photorealistic images and videos with light sources
  • Update colors, texture, size, orientation of furniture
  • The scope and development of environments are restricted
  • Certain objects don’t match the current market

Verdict: Sweet Home 3D is a free construction drawing software for interior design letting users view ready-made 2D floor plans in 3D for context and presentation. It is also the best interior design app that is perfectly suitable for designing interiors and creating home or office plans.

Users have an opportunity to produce photorealistic images and videos based on their plans and incorporate different light sources to simulate their surroundings under certain conditions. If you are interested not only in the programs for your work but in modern architecture trends in general, you should visit Architecture Lab website.

It is possible to receive a furniture catalog, a list of home furniture, a house plan, and a 3D view of the house. Users can import a property plan or start drawing a new one, enjoy drawing walls or edit existing ones, add doors, windows and furniture. Besides, the software enables users to import additional 3D models from other sources and export plans to various widespread formats.

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4. SmartDraw

Professional intelligent diagramming

  • Robust architecture design toolset
  • Rich architectural symbol library
  • Quick-start architecture design templates
  • Draw to any scale
  • Open license for Windows only or via a web browser
  • Many graphic images are highly specific

Verdict: In this free architectural drawing software, the emphasis is put on a swift and straightforward structural design process. It supports integration with plenty of well-known tools (Trello, Visio, Jira) for optimizing the workflow, as well as exporting drawings and plans to different formats for printing.

SmartDraw offers dozens of templates that can be modified and customized with thousands of ready-made characters for different design options.

Simple and robust charting lets users draw and print architectural and engineering diagrams at scale. Contractors and architects will find this software useful for creating diagrams, flowcharts, process maps, CAD and floor plans, project diagrams, graphs, organizational and network diagrams, wireframes, and all types of layouts. The creator of the organization structure offers an online floor plan for ease of use, sharing and collaboration.

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5. FreeCAD

Customizable modular architecture

  • Free, cross-platform, open-source
  • Sketcher, robot simulation module, rendering
  • Customizable modular architecture
  • Geometry kernel, parametric model
  • Under development
  • IFC export isn’t fully implemented

Verdict: FreeCAD is a parametric online 3D modeler of real objects. The tool lets users produce 2D thumbnails for creating 3D objects, and vice versa. It supports specialized file formats (STEP, IGES, STL, SVG, DXF, OBJ, IFC, DAE) for export. Parametric modeling makes it easy to modify a component by going back to the model history. Objects, walls, floors, etc. aren’t restricted to stereotypical forms.

FreeCAD offers a modular architecture that enables users to mount functions and workspaces of specific areas in the main application. It provides a workflow similar to information modeling of building BIM, as well as compatibility with IFC (industry base classes).

The integrated Python interpreter, macros and external scripts grant full access to any part of FreeCAD architecture software.

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6. FloorPlanner

Drag & drop interface

  • 3D, 360°panorama, VR walkthroughs
  • Drawing tool, photorealistic rendering
  • Interactive 2D and 3D floor plan
  • Furniture image library
  • Free version supports only one project
  • Advanced capabilities become accessible after subscription

Verdict: FloorPlanner grants the ability to create floor plans in 2D and 3D, and then share interactive versions of these plans online. It is supplied with the “automatic finishing” function, which makes it easy to decorate rooms according to the plan. The finished floor plans of the planner look professional and polished, ready for presentation.

This free floor plan design software will assist in quick and hassle-free designing with numerous capabilities. Its applications in Google Chrome and iPad are an excellent addition to the web tool. The drag-and-drop feature in the design view is convenient. Navigating between design features, floors and viewing options is definitely an advantage.

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7. Revit

MEP and engineering disciplines

  • Free for the sphere of education
  • Every modification you make is updated
  • Implementation of parametric modeling
  • Inclusion of MEP and engineering disciplines
  • Desktop application for Windows only
  • Revit v2019 is incompatible with BIM Team

Verdict: Since Autodesk provides Revit free, it integrates well with the publisher's tools and supports DWG files as a trace reference for model generation.

It is universal architecture design software for 2D and 3D projects that outputs the overall result of the project, including modeling, rendering, and construction documents. Instead of lines and circles, users can incorporate real components and characteristics of a physical building.

The capabilities of BIM modeling intend to combine all disciplines of building design. Architects collaborate with MEP development teams, electricians and mechanics, so using the same tool makes it easier to interact and coordinate. All building components are interdependent, letting planners make changes without having to redraw each component.

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8. Blender

Built-in compositor

  • Free, cross-platform, open-source
  • Geometric modeling as per 3D architectural models
  • Integrated effects, color grading compositor
  • Animation toolset, simulation and compositing
  • Not the easiest to master
  • Unusual selection system

Verdict: Blender as a free video editing software makes it possible to develop technical skills to create architectural scenes and 3D models.

It supports all stages of the model creation process: modeling, rigging, compositing, rendering, simulation, motion tracking. Besides, it boasts video editing and animation capabilities. With this free architectural design software, users can manage their architectural projects via the layer management system.

Besides, users have an opportunity to add structural elements to the 3D scene by applying the optional Archimesh feature. They will receive the real lighting conditions within this software using the textures of the environment. This flexible tool is easy to configure and may be improved with various free extensions developed by the community.

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9. TAD: The Architect's Desktop

Built 3D draft view

  • Iterative design architecture
  • Integrated architectural language ARDELA
  • Flexible system with add-ons
  • Remarkable object orientation, in-built 3D draft view
  • Source code isn’t open
  • Not intended for design

Verdict: TAD, The Architect’s Desktop is an architecture software free and building information modeler based on basic architecture research with very small file size. It is notable for extensive query capabilities and the ability to get objectivity from bubble-diagramming stages.

TAD is intended to be used from the earliest conceptual sketches and drawings. This architectural designs software free enables users to explore different configurations of bodies and spaces before starting to refine the design.

This 3D architecture software emphasizes the engineering aspect and neglects the conceptual side of architectural design. TAD is meant to be used by senior architects who outline the concept of a building, rather than designing it down to the details like other BIM software. Details are filled in downstream in other solutions. If you still want to have a powerful design tool at hand, check out Cedreo. It allows creating lifelike designs in 3 simple steps.

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10. My Virtual Home

With real building materials and suppliers

  • Accurate lighting model
  • Interior items, garden accessories
  • Local supplier directory
  • Design element library with a virtual tour
  • Windows only, local adaptation
  • Restricted technical support

Verdict: My Virtual Home is the best free home design software based on the game. It boasts a set of standard blocks and modifications for planning the space of a home, office or other places. It is a go-to software for those who wish to imagine what a house will look like since it shows the user the actual display of the effect of a certain construction type: walls, doors, bathrooms.

The software offers creative and interactive models of objects, surfaces and materials. Besides, it determines how lighting will look in different parts of the layout. My Virtual Home is more oriented at novices: it isn’t difficult to master and create a complete design within an hour. It is possible to adjust latitude, longitude and time of year to add realistic lighting effects to the virtual environment.

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11. actiTIME

Highly visual Kanban board

  • Customizable workflow
  • Ability to collaborate with the team
  • Infinite number of customers, projects, tasks
  • Tracks an unlimited amount of time
  • Generates insightful reports and charts
  • Paid subscription option
  • Non-specialized software

Verdict: actiTIME is a user-friendly time tracking solution that works great for both individual architects and studios. It assists in tracking the time spent on various projects and lets users create simple invoices for the clients with a detailed breakdown of the work performed as a contractor.

Reliable reports will help users evaluate how effective is the team, assess the profitability of projects and determine the most time-consuming tasks and actions.

The service is reliable, well integrated into the business process, and helps focus on the business rather than on technology. actiTIME was extremely easy to install and configure according to the needs of the business and proceed straight to production. You will definitely notice positive changes in the workflow.

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  • • How does free architectural design software compare to paid software in terms of features and capabilities?

Free architectural design software often offers a more limited range of features and capabilities compared to paid software. While it can still be effective for basic design tasks, paid software typically provides advanced functionalities, greater customization options, and extensive libraries of pre-built components.

  • • Are there any collaborative features available in free architectural design software?

Collaborative features in free architectural design software can vary, but some options offer basic collaboration capabilities such as file sharing, allowing multiple users to work on the same project by exchanging files.

However, real-time simultaneous collaboration and advanced collaborative features are typically more commonly found in paid architectural design software.

  • • What are some notable advantages of using free architectural design software for professional architects?

Using free architectural design software can be advantageous for professional architects in terms of cost savings, as it eliminates the need for expensive software licenses.

Additionally, free software often provides a platform for experimentation and exploration, allowing architects to test new ideas and workflows without a significant financial commitment.


Top 11 Best Free Architectural Design Software? ›

Fotor is one of the best free architectural design software which is specialized in 2D and 3D architectural design. It provides a user-friendly interface and a wide range of tools for creating architectural design.

What is the best free program for architecture? ›

15 Handpicked Free Architecture Software Tools That Save Time
  • Blender.
  • FreeCAD.
  • LibreCAD.
  • OpenSCAD.
  • MyVirtualHome.
  • Bonus tool: actiTIME.
  • Floorplanner.
  • Sweet Home 3D.

Which software is best for architectural design? ›

Top Ten Design Software for Architects
  • Rhino 3D. Since its creation in 1998, Rhino 3D has become one of the most popular tools for architectural design. ...
  • Revit Architecture. The building information modelling (BIM) concept is key in modern architecture. ...
  • SketchUp. ...
  • V-Ray. ...
  • AutoCAD. ...
  • Maya. ...
  • ArchiCAD. ...
  • Grasshopper.

How to make architectural drawings for free? ›

Fotor is one of the best free architectural design software which is specialized in 2D and 3D architectural design. It provides a user-friendly interface and a wide range of tools for creating architectural design.

What software do architects use to draw plans? ›

Many architects use AutoCAD as a 2D drawing tool for creating floor plans, elevations, and sections. This architectural software speeds up the drawing process with pre-built objects like walls, doors, and windows, that behave like real-world objects.

Are there any free architecture software? ›

Top 10 Free Architecture Software in 2023
  • SketchUp.
  • Revit.
  • D5 Render.
  • Archicad.
  • V-Ray.
  • Cinema 4D.
  • Enscape 3D.
  • Modo.

What is the #1 architecture program in the US? ›

Cornell University

#1 Best Colleges for Architecture in America.

What is easiest software for architecture? ›

12 Best Architecture Software Programs for Beginners
  • Cedreo. Topping our 12 best architecture software programs for beginners, Cedreo is a home designer software that allows you to create 2D and 3D home decor models and floor plans. ...
  • Esri CityEngine. ...
  • CorelCAD. ...
  • Floorplanner. ...
  • SmartDraw. ...
  • Home Designer. ...
  • Planner 5D. ...
Sep 15, 2023

What design apps do architects use? ›

Top 10 Apps for Architects
  • AutoCAD Mobile App. The Autodesk brand is familiar to most professionals who have ever worked on a design project. ...
  • Morpholio Trace Pro. ...
  • ARki. ...
  • ArchiSnapper 5. ...
  • MagicPlan. ...
  • Shapr3D. ...
  • ArchiMaps. ...
  • SketchUp.
Jul 12, 2022

What app do professional architects use? ›

SketchUp. Best for: Architectural sketching and design. App overview: SketchUp is a 3D CAD program that has been in the game for more than 20 years. It's primarily used by architects, interior designers, and landscape designers.

Do architects use FreeCAD? ›

I am architect too. I use FreeCAD in my work. A lot of people used it in their work, too. I needed a lot more than 4 days to learn FC and even much more time to incorporate it in an efficient workflow.

How to get AutoCAD Architecture for free? ›

Students and educators can get free one-year educational access to Autodesk products and services, which is renewable as long as you remain eligible. If you are a student or educator, you can access free AutoCAD software with an Autodesk Education plan.

Which is better SketchUp or AutoCAD? ›

A true professional can use AutoCAD to create top-notch architectural designs and renderings, but SketchUp tends to be more user-friendly and has a much easier learning curve.

Can I draw my own architect plans? ›

You most certainly can! You can save a lot of time and money if you design a house plan yourself. It is also really fun to do. Many local authorities require an architect-drawing together with the permit application.

What is the cheapest way to get architectural plans? ›

The cheapest way is to draw a plan from scratch. However, the easiest way is buying and downloading a ready made house floor plan, which is cheaper and faster than hiring architectural services. With this option, you can also buy construction sets and guides.

Can I learn architecture on my own? ›

Learning architecture requires dedication, focus, and self-discipline. The most effective way to teach yourself is to find a book, tutorial, or online course that is suited to your skill level and learning style. Having the right resources is essential for making progress with your architecture studies.

Where is it cheapest to study architecture? ›

Here are the 20 cheapest bachelor's degrees in architecture.
#1University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX
#3California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, CA
#4University of California Berkeley, CA
#5University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA
#6Cornell University Ithaca, NY
5 more rows

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