Top 10 Technical Apps for Architects

Arrette Scale: perspective. Image Courtesy of Arrette Scale

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.

App Review: Arrette Scale – Precision Scale Drawing

Part of an increasing trend of apps which allow precision scale drawing, Arrette Scale seeks to provide designers with a simple, familiar drawing environment usable by anyone comfortable with traditional drawing tools. Allowing users to digitally review work by sharing ideas and drawings, Arrette’s platform welcomes incremental design changes and collaboration on  without the need for printing reams of paper.

PlanGrid Launches Educational Offering

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PlanGrid, touted as “the fastest blueprint viewer” available, is one of the most mature apps for viewing, amending and discussing construction drawings on a collaborative cloud-based platform. This week they launched PlanGrid for , allowing students full and uninhibited access to every feature of the app free of charge. According to the company, they currently have “40,000 blueprints being uploaded to PlanGrid daily and over 9 million blueprints stored digitally”, making the platform one of the fastest growing in its market.

Morpholio’s Latest App Turns Photos Into Sketches, Mosaics, and More

The Morpholio Project’s latest iPhone application, Morpholio Frame, “is like having a DJ booth for your photos.” The application allows users to merge, crop, and filter photographs before posting them to social media outlets like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Sounds typical, right? Not so fast.

The application gives users more control than most thanks to an interactive matrix approach. Users can select up to three filters and three related masks, creating an image with one of 64 million unique filter combinations. One of the most interesting filters for architecture fans is “sketch” – as seen in the image after the break.

Morpholio Project’s New App to Measure Human Response to Built Environment

Smart phones are designed to collect a variety of personal data, from location and orientation to sight and sound. But what if these devices were capable of tracking our visceral response to the built environment?

The architects and academics behind The Morpholio Project have been researching ways in which biometrics, such as EEG, EMG, face tracking and pulse measurement, could be used to quantify the physical impact of an image on the human body. By turning to the medical industry, has studied the capabilities of photoplethysmography (PPG) and envisioned ways in which it could be integrated with the smart phone.

With a simple 3D printed fitting, the iphone can be transformed into a miniaturized blood pressure machine that records the heart rate fluctuations of a user while they photograph their surroundings. By tracking an individual’s unique emotional response to what they are seeing and experiencing, Morpholio believes they can unlock new potentials in which technology can evolve of the design process.

More information from the creators after the break…

Framebench: The Online Tool Making Instant “Visual Collaboration” Seamless

Courtesy of Framebench

Framebench, an online tool for visual collaboration, seeks to alleviate the digital sharing problems architects and designers commonly face in practice. Aiming to do away with file storage systems, FTP clients and other kinds of complex , this web application allows for teams and individuals to share, discuss and annotate drawings in real time. Framebench suggest that “this could be the online space where you can organize all your drafts and finals, get feedback and approve the work that’s finished” – in realtime. 

The system works by creating workspaces for teams to quickly share their files with one another. You can share any image, video, or document with your team, who can then view it right there without any downloads or installation. While viewing, anyone can annotate on top or leave comments; these comments transform into discussion threads that can be referred back to and added to later.

App Review: Archisketch – “Sketch and Doodle to Scale”

Although tablets have opened up a whole new range of possibilities for architects and designers, using them for drawing and doodling is often a clumsy experience. In many cases there’s far too little accuracy and far too much complexity when it comes to working simple operations. Archisketch, which was formerly known as Archipad, seeks to streamline this experience with a smooth, cleanly designed for iPad that not only allows you to import drawings and doodle over them, but also draw to scale.

What’s “Green” Anyway? ShapedEarth’s Accurate, Carbon-Based Alternative

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“Green” measures nothing. Which is greener: a building that saves water or a building that uses certified carpet? There is no obvious answer to this question – this is why trying to quantify “green” is biased and leads nowhere. Using carbon as a metric, on the other hand, makes sense. This is something you can accurately measure and therefore reduce. Going “low-carbon” not only contributes to fighting climate change but also totally redefines (choice of materials, energy sources, etc.).

This is why shapedearth.com, the first free online calculator for assessing the whole life embodied carbon of building projects, is such a useful tool.

If Architects Love Technology, Why Are Their Websites So Bad? 5 Tips for a Better Site

The original version of this article, entitled “Why (Most) Architects Don’t Get Digital,” first appeared on UXB London.

For super smart people who spend so much time imagining the future, it seems odd that, when it comes to digital, architects are so stuck in the past. Don’t get me wrong, I love architecture and hold the profession in high regard. But I’m mystified as to why the digital revolution has been largely ignored by a profession so proud of integrating emerging technologies.

We recently carried out some research as part of a commission to develop a digital strategy for an established practice in London. We wanted to check the state of mobile adoption in the sector. We figured a good place to start would be the big guns, the award winners, and the ones that others want to be.

We made up our list* and visited each practice on a smartphone. Oh dear. I wouldn’t advise you to do this – it’s a dispiriting experience that could make your fingers hurt and your eyes bleed.

SketchUp 2014 Incorporates BIM Capabilities

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Trimble Buildings Group have recently released SketchUp 2014, the latest version of its 3D modelling platform for architects, engineers, 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).

“Invisible Cities” App Turns the Data of City Life Into an Extraordinary Landscape

The social life of cities is complex. Where once the networks which operated within cities could be understood – to an extent – through their physical infrastructure, in the internet age much of the network that supports city life is hidden, existing only through intangible data.

Invisible Cities is an app which makes this network tangible, using geocoded data from Twitter and Instagram to morph the landscape, displaying where the most activity is occurring. These hills of activity can then be linked by lines representing keywords, showing underlying affinities between different geographical areas.

Adobe Photoshop Becomes a Tool for 3D Printing

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Adobe has unveiled a major update to CC (Creative Cloud) with the hope that a “radically simplified process” will make their software the “go-to tool for anyone who wants to print a 3D model.” Their new software allows for designers to create a model from scratch or refine an existing design leading to perfect print ready 3D models. Since one of the most common problems with is the human errors in virtual modeling, Photoshop includes automatic mesh repair and will insert a support structure if necessary to ensure that the model will print reliably and without faults.

You can find out more about Adobe Photoshop and 3D Printing here. This update to Photoshop is already available for those who are subscribed to Adobe’s Creative Cloud.

VIDEO: Angles on the View with Parametric Design

This two-minute video with NBBJ’s Andrew Heumann highlights a valuable capability of parametric design; whereby the architect can optimize the shape and orientation of a building to appropriate a variety of viewing conditions at the client’s request.

The aptitude for quick, cost-effective variation and the capacity for intuitive visual re-presentation of scripting plug-ins like this one (Grasshopper for Rhino) is a gold star for design.

LEGO®, Chrome Launch Virtual LEGO Game (Prepare for Procrastination)

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Architects and ® Bricks. For many, it was love at first sight.However, playing with at the office – fun as it may be – is not exactly something you can justify doing (at least not everyday).

Well, no more. For your procrastination pleasure, Chrome and LEGO® have paired up and created “Build With Chrome,” a game that lets you play with LEGO online. Good-bye productivity.

Learn more about “Build With Chrome,” after the break..

Zahner Launches Software for Design and Fabrication

Original by Crawford Architects on the Headquarters in North America / Mike Sinclair. Image ©

Zahner, one of the world’s foremost fabricators of façades, have launched new software to assist in design, fabrication, costing and delivery. CloudWall, part of Zahner’s ShopFloor platform, is a web based programme which provides an interface for users to design and fabricate curving facades in metal. It is a tool that uses Zahner’s ”factory floor like a massive rapid prototype machine”.

ArchDaily’s Content Now on “Field Trip”

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You can now use ArchDaily’s content on Field Trip, an which notifies you when you get close to something architecturally interesting. With ArchDaily’s daily feed now embedded within the , when you approach a building we’ve covered your phone will alert you and provide you with photos, facts and information. More info, after the break…

The Morpholio Project Launches Trace 2.0

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The Morpholio Project, the team of architects and designers behind Morpholio (for building/sharing your portfolio) and Morpholio Trace (the app that lets you draw on top of images as if using tracing paper), have just launched Trace 2.0. The new version introduces three fantastic new tools that hope to “put [the ] process in hyper drive.”

As Co-Creator Anna Kenoff puts it: “The goal of the app was to embrace and enhance the fast paced and messy process of idea building, bringing back hand drawing to a culture no longer beholden to the desktop computer.”

Check out the three new features of Trace 2.0, after the break…

5 Tips for Creating the Perfect Website for Your Firm

Courtesy of http://www.archimelie.com/ – built with IM Creator

It’s unavoidable. In today’s world, in order to reach out to your target audience and promote your services, you need to have a website. And just any won’t do. Keep in mind that if you are an architect, people expect creativity out of you and from your website. An efficient, well-built, and good-looking website is the most convincing marketing tool you have at your disposal.

So, we’ve come up with five tips that explain (1) why a good website is so important; (2) what you should have in mind when creating your website (including what to avoid!); and (3) how to get started immediately, after the break…