About 3d Architecture

CAD (computer aided design) programs are used to build architectural 3D models.

The term “3D architecture” refers to the virtual models used to visualize a building or similar structure that doesn’t physically exist. Architects and engineers (as well as, increasingly, those without specialized training in design) are using these to build three-dimensional architectural models. As suggested by the increasing number of Internet applets (small, targeted applications) for creating such models, average people are designing rooms and even entire houses and landscapes in 3D. Although these applets don’t have the tools for finely detailing a structure, they fulfill their intended purpose: to help people turn their ideas into realities.

Usage of Architectural Models

Pro and amateur architects build virtual houses, design cars and recreate ancient Greek temples with 3D architecture. Some model creators won’t turn their models into physical structures, but instead make artwork from them. Some of the most visible examples of this application of 3D models are the virtual buildings and other large-scale structures seen in movies. The movie “Titanic” (1997), in addition to its physical scale models, used virtual models of the doomed ship. Films with fantasy themes, like “Clash of the Titans” (2010), also make extensive use of architectural models.

Software for Making Architectural Models

The programs used to create 3D architecture are often referred to as computer-aided design (CAD) programs. The earliest instances of such programs for the PC were released in the early 1980s, and had virtually none of the features needed to create today’s models. But technology and user demand have decisively changed that. The architectural algorithms that people paid thousands for in the early 2000s are now standard in open-source (free) programs such as Blender.

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Techniques for Making 3D Architecture

Users building 3D models typically base new models on existing ones. This approach may extend as far as making a template of an existing model, then introducing changes to conform the model to the project at hand. For example, someone designing a French Gothic cathedral may load a cathedral model from the earlier Romanesque period into her CAD software. She’ll then increase the model’s height and replace the circular arches with pointed ones to convert the model to the later Gothic style.

Basic Operations

The operations that 3D architects use to build models include these fundamental ones: rotation, scaling (also called sizing) and translation (also called movement). Architects apply these operations to complete models as well as components of models, to conform a model into the desired shape. For example, an architect may scale down just the height of a cylinder to convert the cylinder into a tabletop.

Primitives: Basic Shapes

The initial 3D objects that architects often apply fundamental operations to are called “primitives,” a name that clearly suggests their simple, building-block shapes. These shapes include boxes, cones, toruses (doughnuts), spheres and pyramids. After going through even a few of the aforementioned operations, a primitive may already be transformed to the point where its original shape is unrecognizable, and it may display the essential character of the final model.