What are the software in CAD

Architecture CAD Programs: 10 Best CAD Software

Posted by Laura Kapitza on Apr 12, 2018 |

Whether you are an architect, designer or hobbyist - use CAD programs for architecture to create clear building and apartment plans or to try out new living ideas. As a professional architect, you can easily present drafts and models to your customers thanks to CAD programs. Did you know that 3D printing can even be used in architecture? For example, you can 3D print an architectural model or even an entire house. This enables your potential customers to get a good overview of your work. With 3D printing, you can create architectural models precisely and quickly, while saving time and money. In the following article we will show you the 10 best architecture CAD programs to create 3D models for your projects.

CAD programs are an essential tool when you work in the architecture industry. It is an important tool to visualize your projects for your customers. For example, you can use many different materials and textures with 3D CAD software. This enables you to have a photo-realistic rendering. Thus, a CAD program is the perfect solution for creating, editing and touching up models quickly and easily. Turn your ideas into detailed designs!

Thanks to integrated cloud systems, you can automatically back up projects and optimize teamwork: You can easily share your work with your team or work on a model project at the same time without having to be in the same office.

Don't worry, the architecture software will not completely replace pen and paper work! However, CAD software helps to achieve promising results and to save costs and time.

Professional CAD programs for architecture


ArchiCAD is a professional architecture CAD program by Graphisoft. The open source BIM software (BIM = Building Information Modeling) is a fully equipped tool for architects with which you can create 2D drawings, 3D models, visualizations or building modeling. Thanks to the capabilities of ArchiCAD, you can meet all the challenges of engineering as well as 3D design. CAD software is often used, especially in the field of visualization, as photo-realistic renderings are possible. The CAD program is also known for its feature of being able to store large amounts of information in a 3D model. That is why it is very often used to design buildings, interiors and entire urban areas.



Revit is a BIM software (BIM = Building Information Modeling) from the manufacturer Autodesk. This powerful architecture CAD program is essential if you work in the architecture industry. Since all functions have been specially developed for architects, you can use them to create precise designs with ease. Thanks to Revit, various buildings and infrastructures can be designed and managed. The CAD software also enables an entire team to work on a project. This avoids unnecessary post-processing and unnecessary expenditure of time.

Architecture CAD programs: Revit (Source: Autodesk.com)

AutoCAD Architecture

The AutoCAD Architecture toolset developed by Autodesk is very useful as a CAD program for architecture, as both 2D and 3D designs can be created. It is a comprehensive CAD program with a very good rendering, whereby efficient 3D models and visualizations can be realized. With the industry-specific toolset for solid, surface and mesh modeling, you can create realistic 3D designs. AutoCAD Architecture is also great for technical drawing and sketching in 2D. As with all other AutoDesk software, you also have a cloud system with AutoCAD Architecture to work as a team on a project.

AutoCAD Civil 3D

Another architecture software from Autodesk is AutoCAD Civil 3D. It has all the advantages that we find with the other CAD programs, and it is used specifically for civil engineering. If you're in charge of construction design, this CAD software is exactly what you need. You can also connect AutoCAD Civil 3D to Revit to complete your designs with additional structural models.

Chief Architect

Chief Architect is CAD software for architects to create 2D and 3D renderings. This software is easy to use: you don't need 3D modeling skills to use Chief Architect, especially for home design projects. The user interface is easy to use and the CAD software offers intelligent programming aids. It creates 3D structures and automatically generates a building system from your project file. In addition, you can export 360 ° panoramic renderings that you can share with your customers.

Further 3D CAD programs for architects and co.


Rhino3D is the ultimate tool when it comes to 3D modeling. This CAD software is mainly used for industrial design and architecture. The geometry of Rhino3D is based on NURBS (Non-uniform rational B-Splines), which means that you can achieve a very high level of accuracy in your 3D models. For additional features, you can download Grasshopper, which is a graphical algorithm editor for 3D geometry. Its visual programming language and interface was developed by Rhino3D developers.

You can find more information about Rhino3D in our Rhino3D tutorial.

CAd programs for architecture: Rhino 3D (Source: Rhino 3D Help)


CATIA is CAD software that the Dassault Systèmes company developed for its own needs. The CAD program itself is used in various fields: aerospace, automotive, high tech, and architecture. CATIA enables you to create complex and very precise 3D models. Thanks to the available cloud system, your whole team can work on an architecture project.

Even the famous architect Frank Gehry used CATIA for his award-winning buildings.

Do you want to test the software? Then take a look at our CATIA tutorial!


SketchUp is known for its user-friendly design. Since the CAD program is easy to use, you save a lot of time and nerves. It can be used for anything when it comes to 3D modeling - and architecture is no exception! It's great 3D software and will help you work efficiently and creatively with your 3D designs. With SketchUp you can create walkthroughs and flight simulations that are very useful for customer presentations. With SketchUp, you can create not only 3D models, but also precise 2D designs.

If you want to use SketchUp to prepare your model for 3D printing, you can read useful tips in our SketchUp tutorial.

3D Studio Max

3D Studio Max is CAD software developed by Autodesk and is similar to AutoCAD. 3D Studio Max is mainly used in the video game industry, but architects also use the free CAD program to create high-quality renderings. In addition, 3D Studio Max offers various instructional videos in English to learn how to use the program.

If you need further assistance, our 3D Studio Max tutorial provides detailed information on how to create models for 3D printing.


Solidworks is a 3D CAD software mainly used by engineers. The CAD program helps you with large 3D projects as well as with the quick creation of 3D drafts. Since it is not a special CAD software for architects, complex renderings with different materials and textures are not possible. However, thanks to the various features, you can design buildings and manage your architectural projects.

If you use Solidworks and want to 3D print your architectural model, take a look at our Solidworks tutorial to prepare your model for 3D printing.

We hope that our Top Architecture CAD Programs helped you find the best CAD software for your architecture project. If you want to learn how 3D printing can benefit the architecture industry, check out our blog article on 3D printing for architecture and construction.

If you want to 3D print an architectural model, you can upload your 3D file to Sculpteo and have it 3D printed.

If you have any further questions about 3D printing, please feel free to contact us at any time!

Image rights: Autodesk.fr