3D Visualization: The Future of Architectural Design

3D Visualization – The Future of Architectural Design

It’s very difficult to predict the future. People have been trying to do it as long as we’ve been around, and people will consider you brilliant if you’re even a little bit accurate. It’s always an amusing adventure to pick up an old copy of a magazine from the 1920s and see what they predicted the year 2000 would look like. Things were wildly different in their imaginations, and it belies the difficulty with predicting the future, particularly with technology.

Architectural design services are a historically nostalgic practice. It evokes images of large drafting tables, designers sketching out schematics on large blue sheets, and creating buildings from scratch. If that is your vision of architectural design, however, it’s at least 30 years behind the times.

Architectural design has been radically changed in the past few decades with the development of 3D rendering software such as CAD, 3ds Max, and other similar programs. Now, the next step in the process has already been developed and is working its way through the ranks of architecture all over the world.

3D architectural modeling seems like the next major step in the world of architectural design, and it’s promising to revolutionize the process entirely. There is so much to delve into as this technology is shaping the world and its industry. It’s an easy dive, though, because it’s such a hot topic in the technology community—everyone wants to see and use 3D computer graphics today, and that will only increase.

 So, let’s take a look at the process.

What Is 3D Rendering?

Villa in the countryside. Architectural design and 3D render by Ayham Bitar.

3D rendering is the process of creating realistic designs, in this case, for architecture. At its heart, it is defined as creating an image using computer software. 3D architectural rendering, as we’re going to discuss it, takes things a bit further. This is architectural, lifelike rendering that creates a realistic visual of the space with which you’re working.

There are several rendering packages out there, like VectorWorks, Virtual Architect, and AutoCAD Architecture. All of these packages create three-dimensional schematics of a piece of architecture to analyze or display for a client. 3D rendering options are changing the market because of their visual wow-factor and their ease of adaptation and use. There is so much you can do, and it will blow your clients away if done properly. Don’t skip this technology over—take a look at all the advantages it offers.

What Are the Benefits of 3D Rendering and Visualization?

The benefits of 3D architectural visualization are where they shine, and they are why it’s taking over the architectural design industry. Architects and designers have much to gain from using 3D rendering and visualization. Here are some of the more prominent advantages:

1) Visual Impressiveness

3D architecture visualization of a commercial building by sandip dhaduk.

The visual presentation of the 3D model is one of its predominant features. First and foremost, with enough skill to use a modeling program, modelers and renderers can create a lifelike, three-dimensional representation of any space you’re planning to design. The options are limitless with computer-generated 3D rendering. You can design in the features and fixtures, for example, granite or hardwood, to give realistic options. Various textures and skins offer you the choice to make the design seem realistic and feel alive as if you were stepping into an actual room.

These designs take everything much further than a simple stick and line drawing on blue paper. Not only can you see the dimensions, which, mind you, are just as accessible and understandable as with those simplistic drawings, but you can also craft a virtual home or building.

This is where the architecture combines with the design aspect because you can use 3D rendering to plan and design in the styles and updates in this building, particularly if they will need special architectural consideration. The visual impressiveness of 3D rendering also makes it perfect for presentations with clients or other firms to show your vision and present a realistic end goal for the project.

2) Ability to Make Changes

Minor changes made to a 3D render of residential building design by Reymund Alfonso.

One of the major worries when it comes to 3D rendering or software crafted design is that they can be challenging to make changes for, especially after you have loaded in a vast amount of data or specialization. The worry is that all the extra design features will make it clunky and lead to extended rendering times. Therefore, each change will cause a cascade of issues or require multiple levels of adaptation to change it appropriately.

Fortunately, that’s not the case. With these programs, changing dimensions is as simple as typing them in, and the design features are coded to react appropriately, expanding or contracting in tandem with the adjustments that have been made. This is honestly one of the best features of 3D rendering, because you can not only create an incredible presentation. But, at the whim of a client, you can adjust it and change it to make something with which they’d be pleased.

Even beyond that, pre-packaged skins and textures can be swapped in and out to give a variety of feelings and design options. You can choose to adjust them further once you have found an initial template you like, but the ease with which you can change from hardwood to tile in a kitchen, for example, makes visualizing the design changes easier than ever. It may even help deal with indecisive clients because they’ll be able to picture what they’ll be getting better than ever.

3) Duplication

Rows of duplex homes as designed and visualized by Kayoo.ind.

There are many layers to duplication; all of them immensely beneficial. First, if you want to duplicate a small portion of a render, you can easily do that. Imagine, for instance, you are crafting a custom house for a client with three children. You’d like to duplicate the rooms, so they all have something similar and won’t be competing for the largest or better room.

You can easily copy the aspects of one space and paste it to another, thus crafting a duplicate region of the design in seconds. You can even mirror or rotate these designs instantly, saving you the hassle of having to redraw these spaces by hand. Beyond that, you may feel like you want to duplicate a texture or pattern throughout a space.

For instance, say the homeowner has a particular pattern of tile they’d like to incorporate throughout the house, and you finally found the perfect design template for it. You can easily copy that template and pattern throughout the different regions of the house to ensure that you have a cohesive look that flows through the space, as well as ensuring that you make your own life easier.

Finally, you may like the design so much that you want to use it for other projects. You can easily save this design as a template and use it for future projects as often as you’d like—as long as you keep the initial copy, you can craft as many different versions for clients in the future. You may not even realize a design will sell so well, but you can always keep copies for a portfolio or presentation and duplicate it in case it does take off and attract numerous clients.

4) Scalability

A row of identical houses. Design and 3D Architecture Visualization by sandip dhaduk.

Scalability is one of the most exciting options for CAD services and builders. Scalability is twofold. First and foremost, like with duplication, you can stretch your project to any size you’d like. This means that if your initial project is for a simple office complex in rural Wisconsin, but it suddenly gets picked up, and the buyer wants to make it a high-rise in downtown Manhattan, you can take every design aspect that the client wanted and scale it throughout the project at a moment’s notice.

On the other side of that, if the buyer comes back to you and has realized the initial plan was outside of their budget, you won’t have to scrap the project or completely overhaul the design. You can scale it down to a size with which they’re comfortable. This allows you to keep business and save time.

The second aspect of scalability is the actual building process. 3D rendering is a miracle for construction projects because you know every option and design aspect before going in and tearing out walls or putting in beams and supports. This allows the construction manager to verify and ensure that there is enough structural support or open space to put in the elements that have been asked of him, saving time and money in the process. This scalability will prevent issues and allow you to take designs directly from the computer to the construction site without any confusion or lag.

5) Display/Personalization Options

High-speed 3D work by Ari 3D for a residential building.

While the previous aspect was exciting for the architect, this benefit will appeal the most to your clients. 3D rendering will, as we mentioned earlier, allow you to customize and project to your client’s needs as well as their greatest wishes.

Think about television shows on HGTV like “Fixer Upper” or “Property Brothers.” The designers on those shows use 3D rendering to show clients exactly what the house will look like when it’s completed—and many times they do a side-by-side comparison of the design with the finished product to show how close the renderings were. The results are stunning.

You will be able to show your client every option for granite countertops you can imagine, as well as design features like a feature wall from wood or wallpaper, specialty light fixtures, and more. These personalization options allow the clients to create a vision of everything they could want or imagine in their design.

Along with that personalization, you can even incorporate pieces that the client owns. Imagine showing clients a design of their perspective home, and you’ve already incorporated their furniture and artwork into the rendering so they can imagine what the house will look like after they move in. This customization gives a much better feel for the space and allows them to play with layouts and designs. This could even be useful during the design process so they can tinker with how things will fit in every room, and you can make adjustments if needed. This is a best-seller quality for many clients.

Will 3D Rendering Be the Future of Architectural Design?

Building Information Modeling by steelconstruction for a residential building.

Now, here comes the difficult question. How do you predict the future? Will this aspect of design, the dynamic 3D rendering process, become the future of architectural design? It would seem that the answer is yes, mainly because it’s already in progress as the next phase of design. More and more companies are using 3D rendering, and because of it, the traditional versions of architectural design are falling to the wayside.

As I mentioned previously, this aspect of design is making its way to television on the aforementioned shows, among others. It is infiltrating advertising as builders are producing billboards with a fully realized schematic of the final product on it, and it is being utilized in home improvement shopping.

You’ve all seen the commercials for Lowe’s interior design studios where you can photograph your space and place in colors and pieces of furniture to visualize how they’ll interact with the space. Even apartment complexes use interactive floor plans that you can virtually walk through or place your furniture in without ever stepping foot inside. Here are some of the indicators that this design trend will explode and take over the future of architectural design.

1) Availability of Design Options

Commercial building visualization by Juan Ledezma using Octane Renderer for Cinema 3D.

The number of different design programs is blossoming every day. Twenty years ago, the options for computer-aided design, even in the form of stick and line drawings like AutoCAD Lite provides, were extremely limited and very cumbersome. For the time, these software packages were cutting edge and dynamic, which meant they cost thousands of dollars, or even more, for a single license.

Now, there are certainly software packages today that cost just as much, but the offering is much better. Also, you can find extremely affordable and even free software solutions to create dynamic 3D rendering services.

Some of the available software packages include AutoDesk Architect, which is an extension on the typical AutoCAD software and offers compatibility with those designs. Virtual Architect 3D is a much more affordable option, offering a full complement of options for less than 100 dollars; or SketchUp Pro, an expansion pack for Google’s free SketchUp software, which will cost you a couple hundred dollars for a yearly subscription.

Don’t worry if you don’t know how to use some of these software packages—you can hire a qualified designer from Cad Crowd anytime you need some work done with a specific package. Otherwise, you can learn and utilize these software suites yourself to improve your business offerings.

2) Improvements in Computing

Bakery exterior rendered by Saad Younas using 3ds Max and Vray.

As computing improves, the ability to create renders expands exponentially. Moore’s Law states that the number of transistors that can be fit on the same size chip doubles every 18 months, roughly. Eventually, scientists predict that this law will break down, but before then, it seems like it will transition so that new materials make computers still faster.

With the development of quantum computing as a possibility, the trend seems like most computer systems will only get better and faster for the foreseeable future. With these advancements, the software that can be run on these computer systems will only improve. Twenty years ago, processing power was the main issue with rendering and creating realistic visual displays.

This challenge has certainly been overcome, and now the capabilities of 3D rendering have outpaced what we imagined in 1990 or even 2000. If that breakneck pace continues for the foreseeable future, can you imagine the stunning imagery and level of clarity that will be achieved in 2050? Like we stated earlier in this piece, it’s humorously challenging to understand how the future will look regarding technology. But we can all agree that, in retrospect, it’s mind-blowing. That portends well for the future of 3D rendering and architectural design in general.

3) Virtual Reality

Home design by khireddine.

This is one such avenue that people may never have imagined technology going in, and now that it has, it seems impossible that it won’t continue on this trend. Virtual reality rendering and its various cousins—augmented reality and artificial reality—are changing and shaping the world around us. This allows us to see things that aren’t there or visualize aspects of reality that we could never imagine, as well as interact with the virtual world.

Virtual reality is taking hold in the architectural design industry because it allows clients to step in and interact with these designs in ways that we never imagined. We’ve discussed being able to visualize a space, and even customizing it or placing your furniture into the space, but virtual reality offers so much more. With virtual and augmented reality, you can walk into a space before it’s built, seeing it internally from every single angle as if you were immersed in the space itself.

You can even interact with it, touching and feeling the surfaces with haptic sensors, to help you get a true understanding of how the room not only looks, but feels. With augmented reality and 3D rendering, you can simulate different times of day to present a piece of architecture in daylight, evening, rain, or shine.

Many clients want to know how the light will look if it’s cloudy outside or wish to see the paint color in several different conditions—and with virtual reality, that is becoming more possible. These advances make it hard to deny that 3D rendering is shaking up the world of architectural design.

Cad Crowd’s 3D visualization services are high quality

Stay ahead of the architectural design game and find a way to incorporate 3D rendering. The options are all available to you, and even cheap modern computers have the necessary processing power to run something as dynamic as those programs. Your architecture firm can jump into the rendering game today by hiring a freelance designer or CAD drafting service.

The addition of this technology will sweep your clients off their feet and give you one of the most presentable new forms of media there is. Industry-leading professionals the world around are incorporating fantastically rendered designs into their projects, so it’s an opportunity for you to set yourself apart and align yourself with the best of the best.

At Cad Crowd, we have some of the world’s best 3D visualization freelancers. They’ve worked on contracts for some prestige clients, including Tiffany & Co. Find out more about how it works.