With all the hype being about low carbon building design these days and with an array of tools to choose from, Google SketchUp continues to grow in popularity. Gone are the outdated conceptions’ that architects manipulate primitive, simple shapes like virtual putty in 3D space, and now in, are new methods involving intelligent wall assemblies that “know” their own material make-up and that can be used to generate an information rich building model.
You could be forgiven if at first glance, you perceived this as a trend towards increasing complexity, and that future architects will need to be specialists in BIM methodology in order to contribute to architectural practice. Think again. Google SketchUp, is perhaps the easiest 3D CAD based software to learn on the market at the moment and is rapidly becoming the number one choice for architects in early phases of building design.
Although SketchUp does not provide the BIM functionality that is present in other far more expensive solutions, I believe the future is very promising. SketchUp has a short learning curve, competitive price (free), 3D-based focus (a prerequisite for BIM programs), pleasing visualization capabilities make SketchUp a strong contender to begin with. Now add the fact that it is part of the “Google Empire,” directly connected to Google Earth and its repository of 3D buildings, terrain, and street views—as well as the 3D Warehouse—and you have a contender with enviable if not inevitable odds for success.
Of course, SketchUp does not currently possess all of the functionality of more expensive programs—far from it. Nevertheless, now in its 8th Version, SketchUp has already become a far more sophisticated program than version 1.0. greenspaceLive plans to harness the capabilities of SketchUp, by offering gModeller an energy analysis plug-in, which allows Architects to make informed decisions on building design.