Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fly Through Animations of ADU

When hiring an architect, I insisted that they must render the architectural design in SketchUp, a 3D modeling software that is now owned by Google. SketchUp is the best way to visualize spatial designs; it's relatively simple to create models, and even simpler to navigate through them once they are built. Did I mention that it's also free? Fortunately for me, my architect was quite skilled at designing in SketchUp.

While plan and section, 2D CAD drawings may suffice as a visual aid for some architects and builders, it's quite clear to me as a customer that 3D modeling is a far superior way for the average mortal to understand a complex design. A 3D model is essential to understanding a building's site and landscape design elements such as fences and trees, proximate relationships between standard home features like windows, doors, and cabinets, and it can even be astutely used to get a better grasp on the implications of aesthetic choices like furniture, textures, and finishes.

Every architect should provide customizable SketchUp models to their clients, and every client should be able to navigate their way through a SketchUp model. In an earlier post, I included some screen shots of various views in the model. What follows are two fly-through animations of the ADU design, in which I attempt to convey the physical spaces in the building.


  1. The ADU looks really good Kol. The space looks nicely organized and efficient. But I gotta say you may have fallen a bit too quickly for Sketchup. It is a good 3D modeling program, and it excels at being intuitive and simple. However it is hardly the best modeling program out there, especially for anything larger than a residence. Revit, 3D Studio Max, Rhino, Form Z, and even ArchiCAD just to name a few are superior modeling programs, and definitely put Sketchup to shame in realistic rendering.

    For ease of use and speed Sketchup is probably ahead of the pack. But it lacks a lot of other features other programs have like lighting, you can't do a night time rendering in Sketchup because it's just black. It has its place, but it is far from the be-all-end-all program for architects.

  2. Thanks Patrick. Yeah, I am stoked about the design.

    You're right about the strengths of some modeling tools over others.

    I am definitely biased towards freeware and simplicity.

    If the homeowner/client (me, in this case) is going to be empowered to participate in the design process, the tool has a to be free and simple to use.

    In graduate school, I learned FormZ, and I found the barrier to entry to be too high. I discounted whatever merits it conferred because it was so difficult to learn.

  3. Free is always the best price, and you're right about the steep learning curve on those other softwares - they take significant dedication and a lot of time to be proficient.

    For this application sketchup was definitely the right program. I've also seen a V-ray plugin for sketchup that lets you do great rendering inside the program, which makes sketchup compete pretty well with the other programs.

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