There was a time when architects, builders, and interior designers had to build real-life models of their projects.
This, though fascinating a concept in itself, involved significant time and monetary investment. Plus, real-life models of buildings were static and could not be quickly taken from one place to another.
Cut to 2023, and the problem has been solved by using 3D renderings for architectural projects. Today, there is a wide variety of software tools available, using which architects and designers can create virtual models of their building projects.
What’s more, such software even allows 3D architectural walkthroughs to be created. These walkthroughs can be immensely helpful both for the designers, as well as customers. Easily customizable and entirely virtual, these walkthroughs allow the experience of a property before even the first brick has been laid.
Today, we will take a tour of some of the best software tools available for creating architectural walkthroughs. Using these software packages, architects, designers, and builders can create life-like walkthroughs that are stunning and useful.
Let’s take a tour.
Here is the list of the 5 best software for architectural walkthroughs to help you create stunning virtual tours of your designs.
1. Lumion – Best for Architectural Animation
Lumion is currently one of the best packages available for creating engaging video-animation architectural walkthroughs that impress developers and customers alike. Made with particular attention to the needs of designers and architects, Lumion can help bring a 3D design to life.
Using Lumion, building experts can import 3D models to create a 3D animated walkthrough, all within the span of a few hours. Designers also have the option to modify and render designs on the fly, thus allowing them to apply dynamic changes.
The software has a Livesync option that helps the user model scenes and create visualizations simultaneously. This allows project changes to be implemented faster and makes the whole workflow more efficient. Lumion offers a plethora of project-building tools and effects, including over 5500 environmental elements. These include realistic trees, cars, building interiors and exteriors, and even human characters.
What’s more, the Pro version of the software has a rich library of over 1200 materials such as wood, metal, and glass, using which developers can create their renderings. Apart from the environmental and materials libraries, Lumion offers exceptionally detailed natural models, 44 real skies, and even weather-based effects.
Using the Heightmaps for OSM features, the local contours of the property can be reproduced perfectly. This helps to give users an idea of the local elevation and make decisions accordingly.
With Lumion, it’s possible to create still image models, animation walkthroughs, and even 360-degree panoramic views of a property.
2. Shapespark – Best for Browser-Based Walkthroughs
While Lumion is excellent for video animation walkthroughs, and for rendering fully interactive browser-based walkthroughs, nothing beats Shapespark. Using the software’s simple three-step process, anyone can turn 3D models into live architectural walkthroughs that are engaging and interactive.
Here, one simply starts by importing a 3D model of the property into the Shapespark desktop editor which is used to set up realistic lighting and configure materials. Perfect simulation of real-life lighting is one of the highlights of this software.
Another advantage of creating virtual walkthroughs using Shapespark is that the software uses WebGL and HTML5 for renderings. That means the user doesn’t have to install any software or plugins to interact with the walkthroughs, and these can be experienced in the browser itself.
The difference between a static rendering and a Shapespark rendering is that the latter allows users to enter a space and freely walk around to examine every corner and detail. This creates a real-life tour experience that regular animated videos or even 360-degree panoramas can’t provide.
Shapespark integrates easily with the most common 3D modeling tools, such as SketchUp, 3ds Max, or Revit. As a result, any existing design system can be used with the software without the need for customizations.
Plus, sharing walkthroughs using Shapespark is extremely easy: it can be done via a simple URL or by embedding it on any website. The user can then access the walkthrough from laptops, mobiles, and even VR devices such as the Oculus Go.
Shapepark editor is a desktop application. This allows the creation of walkthroughs even without an active internet connection. With so many exciting features, Shapespark can be your best bet for creating architectural walkthroughs that dazzle.
3. Unreal Engine – Best for Immersive VR Experiences
Next, we explore Unreal Engine, which lets users create dynamic architectural walkthroughs and realistic AR and VR experiences. Unreal Engine’s wide range of features allows the creation of immersive worlds that are genuinely engaging.
Primarily used for PC-based walkthroughs, the Unreal editor can be used simultaneously by multiple collaborators. At the same time, the editor can be run in full VR mode for building walkthroughs using a What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get interface.
Apart, Unreal also incorporates scalable foliage for creating outdoor panoramas and landscape and terrain-building tools for outdoor scene rendering. Plus, the package’s mesh editing tools allow fine-grain editing on an individual element level.
Another critical aspect of the Unreal Engine that’s essential for architectural walkthroughs is the ability to create and use various materials. Add to that the capability to apply sophisticated lighting models, and you’ve got the perfect view of any location, indoor or outdoor. Overall, Unreal Engine is one of the best software for creating desktop-based architectural walkthroughs.
4. Sentio VR
If you’re not looking for a simple and quick tool to build basic 360 panorama and VR tours, Sentio VR can be the best tool. Available as a plugin that works with Revit and SketchUp, Sentio VR allows the almost instant creation of immersive walkthroughs that can be viewed via VR headsets.
Using Sentio VR is a simple process: just upload 3D models and 360-degree renders from any favorite modeling tool. Then add hotspots, images, and even floor plans to customize and create the required walkthrough.
Presentation is simple and can be achieved using VR devices such as Oculus Go. What’s more, you can even view what your customers see on a 2D screen. Perfect for creating 360-degree tours.
My360 is a multifaceted virtual tour software that allows users to develop engaging 360-degree tours swiftly and effortlessly. Designed for a range of professionals, including real estate agents, architects, photographers, and beyond, My360 is the perfect solution for anyone looking to exhibit their properties, projects, or artistic endeavors.
My360 distinguishes itself from other competitors through its intuitive interface and compatibility with an array of 360-degree cameras or even manually combined DSLR panorama images.
The platform enables you to create, tailor, and publish virtual tours with easy-to-navigate elements and features such as branding options, tour descriptions, email marketing capabilities, and the option to incorporate a video intro, a quick menu, and contact forms.
Additionally, My360 provides analytics support and multi-account functionality, making it ideal for teams or businesses. The option to integrate the tour with Google Street View at no extra cost ensures broader exposure.
Best Software For Architectural Walkthroughs Comparison Table
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Advantages Of Architectural Walkthroughs
Now that we know all about the best software packages for creating architectural walkthroughs, we need to look at the benefits. Here are the top five advantages of using architectural walkthroughs.
Undoubtedly one of the significant advantages of creating 3D walkthroughs is the cost savings that come with it. 3D architectural walkthroughs allow builders and customers to view the property before any actual construction has taken place.
This saves on revision and construction costs. Plus, the customer can suggest any changes and even test them out without actually undertaking the cost of physically building them. This makes the entire process more fluid and cost-effective.
Provides Greater Clarity
2D designs and plans can’t convey the actual feeling of the property after construction. This leads to the misrepresentation of details such as practical designs and dimensions.
On the other hand, architectural walkthroughs help overcome this problem by giving all stakeholders a realistic view of the property. This helps to get a better sense of the construction and allows clients to view the property in greater detail.
Allows Easy Alterations
Once actual construction has started, it can become challenging to make sudden changes to the design. With 3D walkthroughs, the customer can understand how the property will look after construction, even before any physical construction begins.
This means that if the buyers want any changes made, the builders can easily incorporate the same in the design. Once the clients have finalized the design, actual construction can start.
Attracts More Buyers
It goes without saying that architectural walkthroughs make a building project much more attractive to customers. The prospect of taking a virtual tour of the property is an enticing one and can bring more customers to the property.
Saves Significant Time
Finally, architectural walkthroughs can be created quickly, which helps finalize designs and speed up the entire construction process.
How user-friendly are architectural walkthrough software programs?
The user-friendliness of architectural walkthrough software programs can vary with some being more beginner-friendly, while others may present a steep learning curve.
Is it essential to have a background in architecture to use architectural walkthrough software?
While it’s not essential to have a background in architecture to use architectural walkthrough software, having an understanding of architectural principles can facilitate the creation of realistic and accurate walkthroughs. Furthermore, knowledge of 3D modeling and design principles can enhance navigation through the software effectively.
How do I find the right architectural walkthrough software for me?
To find the right architectural walkthrough software for you, determine your priorities such as budget, ease of use, and specific features like real-time rendering or VR compatibility. It’s advisable to consider trying free trials or demo versions of various software programs to evaluate which one aligns with your requirements.
How does virtual reality integrate with architectural walkthrough software?
Virtual reality integrates with many architectural walkthrough software programs by allowing clients to immerse themselves in virtual environments for a highly engaging and realistic experience.
How important is real-time rendering in architectural walkthrough software?
Real-time rendering in architectural walkthrough software is a valuable feature that enables instant preview of changes, offering a more seamless and efficient design process. Although not essential, it can significantly save time and make adjustments easier to manage.
What is the ideal system requirement for running architectural walkthrough software?
The ideal system requirement for running architectural walkthrough software varies, but generally, it’s recommended to have computers equipped with powerful graphics cards, ample RAM (at least 16GB), and fast processors to ensure smooth performance.
Selecting the best software for architectural walkthroughs comes down to evaluating your specific needs and requirements. From ease of use and affordability to browser compatibility and object libraries, different software excels in various aspects of architectural visualization.
From the above 5 best software for architectural walkthroughs, here are the top three expert recommendations:
Lumion is an ideal option for architectural animation, providing stunning and immersive visuals that captivate users. Its comprehensive objects library and real-time rendering capabilities make it a favorite among professionals.
For browser-based and mobile walkthroughs, Shapespark is a good option as it offers a platform that simplifies the entire process. It excels in creating interactive and engaging architectural walkthroughs without needing any additional software installations.
Finally, Unreal Engine is the right choice for developers seeking immersive VR experiences. With its wide range of features, advanced material creation capabilities, and collaborative environment, it allows for the creation of highly realistic virtual worlds and architectural walkthroughs.
With these top-notch options identified, selecting the best software for your architectural walkthrough needs is now a more straightforward task. Take your creations to the next level and impress your clients with any of these fantastic tools.