9 Best Architectural Design Software of 2020

by KEN
Architectural Design Software

Architectural designs have been evolving and advancing in recent years. During the early days, architectural designs were only made manually, but through the introduction of both online 3D modeling software and downloadable versions, it’s now much easier and quicker to create architectural design of any kind.

We’ve made a careful research and listed the best software one can access just by a click of a button you’re redirected to the site where you can either access the software from your PC or download it in just a few minutes and get started.

1. SelfCAD


Architectural design designed in SelfCAD. Image source: Youtube.

SelfCAD is a cheap user-friendly cloud-based CAD application that allows all types of users to model, sculpt, slice, and print 3D objects. Kids, students, and professionals, as well as hobbyists, can easily use this program to gain skills and confidence in 3D designing. SelfCAD allows users to approach all tools and potentialities they prefer for designing, customizing, and printing 3D objects from a single tool.

It’s a great program for designing architectural design because of the capability of its tools. You can sketch buildings and turn the sketch into a 3D model at a click of a button. Moreover, you can import a reference image into the program to help you design efficiently.


  • Simple yet powerful
  • Has a reduced number of tools and only those that are commonly used are included. Most of these tools are reusable too.
  • Sketching and free hand drawing tools are present.
  • Ability to convert an image to a 3D model.
  • Sculpting features are present.
  • There is an in-built slicer.

2. AutoCAD

Interior design of a house done in SelfCAD Image source: Indiamart

AutoCAD is a great software providing a range of comprehensive tools to constructional engineers and architects. To speed up the entire process of architectural design, AutoCAD provides a library of designs for walls, doors, windows, etc to make it easier for one to design their designs easily. Apart from that, there is also a mechanism for inventing elevations,sections and plans from model geometry. However it has a slightly older view aligned to it for those who would rather prefer a Building Information Modelling (BIM) future.

Key features

  • Comprehensive tool kit
  • Efficient keyboard shortcuts
  • Steep learning curve
  • Design and documentation features
  • Ability to save your work to the web and mobile.
  • Collaboration capabilities.


$1,690 per year, you can also get it as part of the architecture engineering & construction collection for $2,965 per year.

3. 3DS Max

Architectural environment done in 3DS Max Image source: Pikist

Flexible modeling software that allows architectural engineers to create both interior and exterior designs of houses. Creating


  • Capability to convert 2D plans to 3D
  • Great viewpoint quality
  • Import capabilities
  • Physically-based lighting
  • Support for powerful architectural plugins


Available for $1,620 for a yearly subscription with a discount offered to those who sign up for two to three years in advance.

You may also purchase it aside the construction bundle alongside Revit,AutoCAD, Civil 3D, InfraWorks and Naviswork for a discount of $2,965.

4. Civil 3D

Civil 3D

Civil 3D can be used to create any type of architectural design.

An engineering program supporting building information modeling. Has a variety of features that makes it easier for drafting, documentation, and design. Though Civil 3D is used purposefully for civil engineering, it can also be used to create plans of building and other architectural designs.


  • Ability to create construction documents quickly and easily from drawings.
  • Useful in planning, managing and design of architectural designs.
  • Versatile approach
  • Modelling and drawing are only two functions needed from CAD by architects


for $2,315 per year for licensing, it can also be licensed with other Autodesk products in Architecture, engineering, and construction collection for $ 2,965 per year.



CATIA is becoming popular architecture software because of the versatility of its tools. Image source: Archdaily.

Can model buildings and jets as well. originally conceived to precision model military hardware making it a piece of cake to handle complex architectural problems and generate finely detailed models. Recently CATIA has updated its cloud functionality.


  • Global cooperation
  • Multi-platform capabilities
  • Huge model complexity
  • Precise model data
  • Runs both online and desktop platforms.


Due to its powerful and fully featured software the prices are not indicated instead  you have to ask for a quote.

  6. Chief Architect

Chief Architect

Architectural design done in Chief Architect. Image source: Charismatic

A house building kit software, it can be utilized by homeowners with the desire to remodel. It’s a great tool for interior designers and architects innovating unique residences. The strength of Chief Architect relies on construction of homes as they are the most built compared to offices and parks. Depending on the specific needs, there is a product selection section where you can select their premier product that handles complete buildings with all their details.


  • Easy to navigate
  • Powerful smart features
  • Available for both Windows PC and Mac
  • Orthographic and perspective camera tools
  • Plans and layout presents
  • Viewer file compatibility for sharing files.
  • Ability to open multiple layouts.
  • Advanced and professional layout editing.


The Premier version costs $2,995

Architect interiors $2,195 per year

$495 per year for renewal for either of the above

You can choose to pay $199 per month.

7. Revit


BIM oriented design tool for architects. It has not only enabled the design and modeling of a building but also the coordination of multiple engineers collaborating on the same plan. Designers using Revit work with objects instead of vectors between two points allowing them to work quickly with confidence.


  • Highly efficient
  • Smart object connectivity
  • Little overlap in AutoCAD commands
  • Conceptual design tools present
  • Architectural elements of the buildings like doors, walls, and windows.
  • Point cloud tools are present. They make it easier to connect to BIM process directly.


$2,245 per year, and it comes in the same collection that AutoCAD and 3D Studio Max offer for architects.

8. Rhino 6

Rhino 6

Rhino is useful in creating architectural sines. Image source: Lynda

Rhino was designed from conception to handle curved lines,meshes and NURBS (surfaces with high complexity).  For architectural design, Rhino can easily model the complex intersections of curved roofing or any part of the structure that is not implicitly straight. As a software, it caters for add-ins and the Grasshopper visual programming system to enable it to be customized for specific tasks.


  • Plugins and scripting
  • Third party services
  • BIM functionality are present
  • Enhanced dimension and annotation features present


A single license on Windows PC costs 995Euros or $1,160 with a number of add-on costing extra.

9. Sketchup


Architectural design done in Sketchup. Image source: Youtube

User-friendly architectural program currently owned by Trimble. As a starter for anyone venturing in 3D modelling, sketchup is easy to manoeuvre as CAD. After a few easy to follow tutorials,designers are able to work rapidly to construct complex solid geometry using it. Its free release has made sketchup popular generating a large and active community of sketchup people to assist those who are still beginners. It has also made a variety of resources of pre-constructed parts to drop into any project.


  • Easy to use
  • Easier to work on 2D and 3D concepts.
  • It’s a desktop application.
  • Easy customization of any project
  • Ability to generate reports
  • Has a library of models to help one design easily.


Offers a free tier with limited features

The sketchup shop offers it for $119 per year

The full-featured SketchUp Pro for professional use at $1,199 a year.

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