Published 03 April 2007
|Written by Martyn Day|
Page 1 of 2
The take up of 3D in architectural practices has been slow to say the least. However, one application appears to have gained broad acceptance within the AEC market - and that is SketchUp. Martyn Day reports.
What is it that makes architects so 2D-centric? Itİs a question that most of the industryİs software vendors have spent many years pondering, without really coming up with any concrete solutions. Despite making nearly all CAD programs 3D capable, the industry is solidly 2D. The only 3D product to get widely adopted is SketchUp, formerly @last software and now owned by Internet Behemoth, Google. While it used to sell for around $500, the change of ownership brought a swift reduction in price to $0! However, there is still a Ùprofessionalİ version which is available for $495, but if you paid for SketchUp Pro in the past the update is free.
SketchUpİs success was mainly due to low cost, ease of use and a pent up need for such tools. SketchUp is found everywhere from small one man bands to large global practices and it has inspired even some of the main CAD vendors to try and copy the feature set. However, the downside is that you still need to own and know how to drive the big expensive CAD seat. SketchUp is neat, cool and multiplatform, I can happily run it on my Mac or PC and it feels like the same application.
Fundamentally, SketchUp is about making shapes and extruding them, or punching holes in them and adding groups of geometry together to make faceted models. Itİs flexible enough to rough out most designs and it goes so far that you could make your model in-context with satellite data bitmaps, sun shadows and topology. If you want to get an idea across, quickly, it can be done in SketchUp. I reckon 30 minutes of tutorials and you will be ready to have a crack at modelling your first project.
Ease of use must have been one of the key reasons why Google purchased the company and with Googleİs methodology of giving away applications, SketchUp followed suit. Itİs now linked into Google Earth and the 3D Warehouse, a project where SketchUp is allowing anyone to build a ÙWikiİ 3D world of buildings in Google Earth. While this is fun for kids and hobbyists it also benefits the serious architect as when you are talking Google Earth, it really is as in-context as you are virtually going to get.
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