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Refresh the Greenery in your Renders with this Free Library of Plants for SketchUp

Are your animated shrubs looking a little tired? Has your digital flora dried up? Are you looking to remedy perennial render problems? Look no further: we've found a solution that will truly make your renders bloom. With the help of a botanist, OneCommunity, an open source software website, has released a list of the most realistic plants optimized for SketchUp. The archive includes everything from palm trees to an array of water and bog plants, bamboo shoots, and tropical evergreen trees. The best part? It's free.

It's time to breathe new life into your wilted renders. Find out how to make yours blossom after the break!

The Best Software Tutorials on the Web (According to ArchDaily Readers)

In a world where architects can use computers to produce representations of designs with new levels of accuracy and artistry, software fluency is becoming increasingly necessary. With that in mind, last month we asked our readers to help us develop a comprehensive list of tutorials. After studying the comments and scouring the internet for more sources, we have developed this improved list, which we hope will help you to discover new work techniques and better ways to apply different programs.

Of course, it's unlikely that any list of internet resources will ever be complete, so we're hoping to continually update this list with the web's best learning resources. If there are any tutorials sites we've missed which you found helpful, let us know in the comments!

Architecture Software Tutorials: Which Are The Best Out There?

In contemporary architecture practice, proficiency in an ever-widening array of architecture software is becoming increasingly important. For almost every job in the field, it is no longer enough to bring a skilled mind and a pencil; different jobs may require different levels of expertise and different types of software, but one thing that seems universally accepted is that some level of involvement with software is now a requirement.

While software has opened a huge range of capabilities for architects, it also presents a challenge: universities have taken wildly different approaches to the teaching of software, with some offering classes and access to experts while others prefer to teach design theory and expect students to pick up software skills in their own time. New architecture graduates therefore already face a divide in skills - and that's not to mention the many, many architects who went to school before AutoCAD was even an industry standard, and have spent the past decades keeping up with new tools.

The internet has therefore been a huge democratizing effect in this regard, offering tutorials, often for free, to anyone with a connection - as long as you know where to look. That's why ArchDaily wants your help to create a directory of the internet's best architecture tutorial websites. Find out how to help (and see our own short list to get you started) after the break.

Sefaira Incorporates Customizable Graphics Into Daylight Visualization Software

Sefaira, the market-leading daylighting visualization tool, has just announced a new feature for their software plugins for Autodesk Revit and Trimble Sketchup. In addition to the real-time visualizations announced last year, the new update adds customizable, exportable graphics which offer both a point in time analysis or an annual overview, and analysis tools which help designers easily identify overlit and underlit spaces and review heating or cooling requirements.

Top 10 Technical Apps for Architects

Building upon our Top 10 Apps for Architects, this collection brings together some of the best quality and most valued technical apps for designing, sketching, calculating and collaborating. Although the majority of those featured here are designed solely for the iOS platform, every time we collate lists such as these it's clear that more and more high quality apps for the Android and Windows platforms are being developed. From condensed versions of large scale software packages that architects and designers use every day, to blank canvases to scratch ideas down onto, you might just find an app that could improve the way you work.

Arrette Scale: calculating area. Image Courtesy of Arrette Scale Morpholio Trace. Image Courtesy of The Morpholio Project iRhino 3D (iOS). Image Courtesy of iRhino 3D PadCAD (Android). Image Courtesy of PadCAD

SketchUp Announces Mobile Viewer for iPad

SketchUp have recently unveiled the latest app in their suite, SketchUp Mobile Viewer for iPad. Allowing "on the go" access to models, the app also features access to "the entire universe" of files in their 3D Warehouse. Users can use the same familiar features, such as Orbit, Pan and Zoom, to "present their own private 3D models to clients and partners." With a price tag of $9.99 from Apple's App Store, early reviews suggest that this is a good first step with some way yet to go. Being the first ever SketchUp tablet product (with a planned Android version in the works), it has been released in conjunction with SketchUp 2014 which incorporated BIM capabilities for the very first time.

SketchUp 2014 Incorporates BIM Capabilities

Trimble Buildings Group have recently released SketchUp 2014, the latest version of its 3D modelling platform for architects, engineers, design and construction professionals. With "more than 30 million unique activations in the past year", SketchUp is claimed to be the most widely used 3D modeling software in the world today. The latest incarnation of the simple tool features a new 3D Warehouse and some interesting integrations into the world of Building Information Modelling (BIM).

Affinity Plug-in for SketchUp

When architects use SketchUp Pro as a tool for making more-accurate bubble diagrams, they create “rooms” whose areas match the ones in the program, group each one, and arrange them three-dimensionally. This is useful until one of the rooms changes size, which can throw off the whole process.

Design your own Building Competition by Hasbro

Hasbro, the makers of the Monopoly game, have officially announced a competition that gives Monopoly-lovers the chance to design a building that will be included in the new interactive game Monopoly City Streets.

Google SketchUp 7.1 now available

This morning Google announced Google SketchUp 7.1. This new version will be a  free upgrade for existing Pro users, and has emphasis on three important aspects of this easy-to-use (yet powerful and extensible) software: performance, an improved version of LayOut (2.1) and collaboration.

As for performance, the engine has been improved and you will notice that orbiting, zooming and drawing can be quicker and smoother in 7.1, for both PC and Mac editions.

LayOut 2.1, the SU componente that enables you to create presentation boards and design documents straight from your model, has now the ability to apply dimensions to scaled SU models and vector graphics. Based on my personal experience, LayOut is very good to deliver quick construction documents and has helped me a lot working with furniture manufacturers. The new dimension tool is something I was waiting for.

LayOut 2.1 also includes snap to the model, an improveed Freehand tool, lists (bullet or numbered, very useful) in the text area, improved grids and improved copy/paste, making it easier to work with other design softwares. You can see more on the video and images below.

Design It: Shelter Competition, remembering the Frank Lloyd Wright spirit

This year we not only celebrate the 142nd birthday of Frank Lloyd Wright, but also the 50 years of the Guggenheim, one of his master pieces (completed the year he passed away). These dates are not only commemorated with Lego Kits and exhibitions, but also with a very interesting competition held by the Guggenheim Museum and Google Sketchup.

Historic Preservation 2.0

As an architect, I have been involved/consulted on historic preservation proyects. Most of them never materialized, even after spending a lot of time/money between interested parties (government, institutions, communities). It´s Not that it was a waste of time, but after seeing what some communities are doing with almost no official support/money and just driven by their passion, it´s pretty much clear that it can be done in another way.

Let me show you an example: a group of architecture students from Universidad de Talca, in the south of Chile, decided to spend their summer working with a community in Lebu, an old city that was very active at the beginning of the last century thanks to coal mines nearby. Beautiful wooden buildings were erected during the bonanza, but once the coal mines started to shut down, the city lost its economic base and entered into recession until today. All of this beautiful buildings were endangered because of lack of maintenance, and as of today some of them have even been demolished.

So, these students decided to teach the community how to use Google SketchUp as a way to help them preserve their historic buildings. Being a free tool, all they had to go was to get a space and some computers. The local authorities helped them by providing a space for the workshops, and lots of people got interested on this program. They gathered old plans from the city hall and some historic archives, and each one of the 24 assistants to the workshop started to learn how to model in 3D using one of these historic buildings as a case study.

Augmented reality on your desktop, thanks to Sketchup

Augmented Reality is a new technology that is starting to spread. Basically, it consists on mixing 3D model with live footage in real time. This concept has been applied to futuristic interfaces, and it can be very helpful for architects as it allows you to take 3D Models a step further, placed on the real world and show it to your clients.

Thanks to the AR-media Plugin for Sketchup, you can start playing with Augmented Reality. This plugin allows you to place the 3D Model over live video from your webcam, and move it around as you can see on the above video. The plugin calculates the planes on the live footage thanks to a sheet you need to print out, which allows the software to calculate the distance and inclination.

So, all you need is Google Sketchup (free), a webcam, then download the trial version of the AR-Media Sketchup plugin (limited to 30 seconds), print the sheet and you can start playing with your models.

We just did it at the office with Aravena´s ORDOS 100 model, and it´s very impressive. Try to use a small model to start, since the 30 sec countdown starts running when the software launches and it can take a while to start completly, depending on the model.

Another video after the break.

Free Sketchup plugins for download

Sketchup is, by far, the easiest tool for modeling. Google acquired this software in order to crowd-source the 3D modeling of the earth, since anyone can use it to model their house, school or favourite building. But being simple and fast doesn’t mean it lacks on features.