4 of the Best Software For Architectural Walkthroughs

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 2022, 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 experiencing 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.

The Best Software For Architectural Walkthroughs

  1. Lumion

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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 creates 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. 

  • Extensive objects library for plants/trees/vehicles/people
  • Realistic sun and sky settings
  • Realtime rendering
  • Simple interface to use
  • Short rendering time
  • Video walk through production tools
  • Video animation walkthrough or interactive walkthrough export types available
  • Cost of Lumion Pro is € 2999
  • Requires a strong computer
  • Very easy to learn in basic, but not easy to become an expert
  • Output videos are large
  • To view interactive walkthroughs client need to download a dedicated application (viewer)
  1. Shapespark

While Lumion is excellent for video animation walkthroughs, 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 lightning 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 plugin 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 to create walkthroughs even without an active internet connection. With so many exciting features, Shapespark can be your best bet to creating architectural walkthroughs that dazzle.

Interested in knowing more? Just visit Shapespark.com for detailed information.

  • Interactive walkthroughs can be viewed directly in the browser including on mobile devices
  • Compatible with VR headsets
  • Prices start at €17 / mo
  • Real time rendering
  • Does not require a very strong computer
  • Easy to learn
  • No objects library available
  • Lightmap requires baking
  1. Unreal Engine

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Next, we explore the 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.

That 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.

  • Real time rendering
  • Possible to achieve extremely high quality effects and realism
  • Videos created in Unreal Engine can be post-processed
  • Extensive marketplace ecosystem with high-quality textures, add-ons, plugins, and other assets
  • Video animation walkthrough or interactive walkthrough export types available
  • Steep learning curve
  • To view interactive walkthroughs client need to download a file or a dedicated application
  1. 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 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.

  • Extremely easy to use
  • 360 tours can be viewed in web browser including on mobile devices
  • Compatible with VR headsets
  • No rendering capabilities
  • Only 360’-panorama images based walkthrough export type

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.

  1. Minimizes Costs

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 it. This makes the entire process more fluid and cost-effective.

  1. Provides Greater Clarity

2D designs and plans can’t convey the actual feeling of the property after construction. This leads to 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 a property.

  1. Saves Significant Time

Finally, architectural walkthroughs can be created quickly, which helps finalize designs and speed up the entire construction process.

Final Words

We have come a long way from the time when to buy a property, you actually had to visit the location. Today, with the help of architectural walkthroughs created using software such as those mentioned above, builders can give buyers a remote tour from the comfort of their homes.

With time, we can only expect the technology to advance even more. Perhaps there’ll come a time when architects will even be able to deliver tactile experiences through virtual walkthroughs.

If you’re interested in creating walkthroughs and learning the process, then the above software packages can be your best bet. Give them a try today, and see what resonates with you.

With that, we’ll take your leave. Happy rendering!

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Aida Vasquez
Aida has been part of Architecture Lab ever since 2011 when she started ghost writing for the website on art and design topics, today she is our veteran design contributor, covering a wide array of topics that fuel her creativity.
Aida Vasquez
Aida Vasquez
Aida has been part of Architecture Lab ever since 2011 when she started ghost writing for the website on art and design topics, today she is our veteran design contributor, covering a wide array of topics that fuel her creativity. Highlights Aida is the first design contributor of Architecture Lab since 2011 She surges writing inspiration from real life as an avid architecture-art seeker always on the move She reviews and writes about products that she deems "cool enough" Experience Aida has been writing for Architecture Lab for almost 12 years now, writing about anything and everything in the art and design niche, every piece she writes she aces with extraordinary attention to detail and a mountain of research to back it up. When asked what drives her curiosity in realm of design Aida replied that: " Every object is the thought process of its creator at a given point in time, often the result of a years struggle that we get to enjoy so casually, we should never overlook the effort our fellow peers, even if it comes in absolutely stupidly mediocre design." Education Aida is a graduate of ESAD – Escola Superior de Artes e Design in Porto
TITLE | Design Contribuitor at Architecture Lab
About Architecture Lab Architecture Lab is a MKR.S Media brand, a website devoted to extraordinary design and aesthetics aiming to promote exceptional aesthetic values and sustainable design in all it’s shapes and sizes. Learn more about us and our editorial process and feel free to contact us if you would like to see something in particular on the website, our certified experts will get back to you with the most trustworthy advice as soon as possible. Read all articles by Aida

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