Blender for Architecture

I hope this is the right forum for this thread, so here goes…
I create architectural 3d graphics for a living. The past ten years I’ve been using proprietary software, like everyone else. However, I really believe in the open source course, and would like to move to a complete open source environment. The only hurdle in my way is a decent 3d modelling app. Don’t freak out now, I do believe that Blender is more than just decent:). My problem is that I have not been able to build an acurate architectural model yet. Also, it has to be done in a tight timeframe, if one is going to be able to use it professionally.
So, I thought of a little experiment. I’ve posted a 2d CAD drawing on my site, here:
It is a project that I’ve done about five years ago, nothing special, just good enough to do the job basically. If anyone is interested, you can download the drawing and built it in Blender. Post it here, and see what we can come up with. Even if you just want to learn/practice, I can give some constructive critism.
This is just an excercise for anyone interested in architectural 3d graphics, to see what can be done with Blender. Obviously, for 2d imaging, use the GIMP, or whatever you prefer.

In my experience blender is pretty much up to the job for certain things. Scaling is the obvious pitfall but if you’re careful it should not be a problem

I have recently used blender for a couple of lighting and cabinetry prototypes and it was good for that. Generally I get other people to do the 3d stuff now and in HK and Shanghai that means Max. The reason for this is that I sell design not 3d.

Blender is very good for organic modeling (subsurfs) which impresses some clients. For quick presentations and mock ups it is good.


i’m gonna try to model this house for practice. though i might not be able to post it online for a little while. Gonna need a practice for when my internet are down for a little while (moving to a apartment soon and need to save money) maybe once i learn enough from this practice, i could try to model the apartment complex and offer it to the apartment office to use on their web site

I’m in! I’ll try to model it as closely as possible.

Edit: How to open DXF files?

Edit Again: Never mind, I don’t have cad. Thought you had some image files. Could you give me some image files?

Saxofoner91: same issue here too

Edit: How to open DXF files?

Hmm, that’s one of the shortcommings. For architectural modelling, you need to import 2d drawings, like dxf/dwg in order to model acurately. You also need to be able to snap, etc.

a free dxf viewer can be used to convert dxf files in images
google results

Yes, but working off an image is not nearly as acurate as working off a cad drawing, especially if you can snap to it, ala 3dmax.

There are some Blenderheads doing archiviz since long time ago.

Blender shortcomings and virtues for archiviz are pretty detected and studied.

Use the search tool.

I opened your file with TurboCad 8.2 and converted it to a *.wrl file, which is in fact VRML 1.0. And this is something Blender can load easily. The mesh it creats seems to be quite usable. The only thing obvious is recognized is that the letterings are gone.


Hi, I’ve also started using Blender for ArchiViz where I’ve used 3D Studio Viz previously.

I’ll take a look at your DXF and perhaps have a go.

I find DXF the best for 2D CAD imports into Blender. Once they have been put through something like Accutrans first. .obj and .wrl are problematic on many occasions.

Alvaro, I’ve looked at your site and it is the best architectural cg work that I’ve seen from a Blender user thus far.

This is exactly what I’m trying to do here, in a practical kind of way. Hopefully find solutions to the shortcomings.
Please excuse me if I ask questions that have been asked before, since I’m new to Blender. In fact I have not yet used it productively.
IMHO Blender is a powerfull and stable 3d app, but seems to be a bit weak on the AEC side. If we can pinpoint these shortcomings, then developers should be able to improve Blender’s achiviz capabilities. I do think that if more people use open source software professionally, it will be taken more seriously and be developed even more.

For those looking for a way to open & edit DXFs, check out ProgeCAD LT 2006. For a competetent converter check out ACME CAD Converter.

ebow3d, there has been much discussion about this topic on this forum that you may find helpful. I’d recommend doing a quick search here using “DXF” or “CAD” or similar keywords, and maybe you’ll come across some useful tips. yellow appears to have a handy resource available (see link in his sig) that might help, too. Cheers, and welcome to the Blender world!

Have to add my 2 cents here (or pfennigs or shillings or whatever you use…:slight_smile: )

First off, importing a .dxf into Blender is possible, but difficult. Simple discussion here:

I downloaded the file above, and then I tried to import the file directly into Blender, and sure enuf, no go. It really works better with small, simple files, and from my experiments so far, R14 works best. Perhaps, ebow3d, if you were to break up the files into smaller chunks (1 floor plan, section, etc per file, saved down to R14)?..give it a try - I think you’re experiment will become more available to a wider audience.

(Nice project, BTW - did you use Max?)

This topic is of great interest to me, as I’ve just started two professional projects using Blender. I used the above import method to make a very simple sketch model of a hotel, and I’ve modeled a topo and building of a church for studies of where to put an addition. The first will be used for fly-by’s, and for the second I intend to use the game engine to create walk-thru .exe files so clients can “walk the site” to get a feel for the topography and views.

The biggest problem I’ve encountered is the problem of the “fillet” - in CAD, it is a simple operation to fillet (or chamfer) two lines together, but in Blender, its much more convoluted. I’ll bet there’s a .py out there, or I’ll write one myself when I’ve learned Python well enough. (Free-time, free-time…:rolleyes: ) And BlenderCAD seems to have died on the vine. Sigh.

Just curious as to why accuracy is so important?

I used to treasure the importance of it but found that as long as I managed 50mm accuracy nobody noticed, so working off scanned plan elevation etc was simple and fast… and fast is important here in HK. I just aim for the overall accuracy and it still looks good. Generally 3D is just to give an impression and not used for measurement (not like product design).

Also I also found being super accurate not too important as site conditions mean compromises in the realm of 500mm! Quick to adjust out in 3D though.

On a project I just got one of our 3d guys to add half a metre to a ceiling to improve the design and save me faking it in Photoshop later.


I agree, the cad drawings should be split. The reason I didn’t split it for you, is because I wanted to see how other people would do it. I use Acad to clean up and split the dwgs into plans, sections and elevations. Then import it into Max, and arrange them in a logical way, ie: elevations in side view, plans in top view. Then one can simply work off that. Even Max is cumbersome when it comes to large editing 2d drawings, understandably, since it is a 3d app.
It seems, one will have to use a cad app. like ProgeCAD, or so.

I know its arbitrary, but, depending on the purpose of the project, it often is necessary. Snapping iads in accuracy and speed.
BTW, you’ll find that the cad drawings, supplied by the architects, are almost always inaccurate, ie, plans and elevations not linig up, etc. Still, architectural models are not organic really, therefore, some measure of accuracy is required.
Maybe I should add, that a personal weakness of mine is to spend too much time on accuracy;)

I know what you mean and if you are working for architects. Picky, picky…

Fortunately I’m now doing the design, so I aim at what the client expects to see correct which is usually graphics, lighting and materials.

Good to see someone taking it seriously though :).

One of the problems I found with blender was the difficulty in getting accurate path extrudes (better in Max). Working on the interior of food hall last year and the chilled counters were a Eurocryor model, very curved. Blender might have managed it but the time factor would have been a problem. I’m sure someone out there has nailed it though.


Accuracy is important in some cases, and so I tend to keep things accurate in all cases. Example: at a church with an odd angle in the floor plan we had drawn, a problem with snapping created a slight skew in the angle…the problem grew to a huge error on one side of the building. Also: in most CAD programs, dimensions are “associative” so any errors in the drawing will be reflected in the dimensions. On the other hand, using Blender for doing CAD-type documentation is just not a good idea, IMO - its the wrong tool for that job. As such, accuracy in Blender is not as crucial - as long as you’re consistant. I tend to use the CTRL and always scale/move along an axis to make sure things are, if not exactly accurate, at least rectilinear.

I’m currently working daily at figuring out just exactly how Blender can fit into our practice. I’m pretty sure it will be our main visualization software, taking the place of making scratch models out of chip-board. It will also be good for selecting materials and finishes, I think, but I haven’t experimented with that yet.

Anyway, not to hijack the thread, but I hope this info is useful to anyone looking to use Blender in a professional architecture practice.

BTW, you’ll find that the cad drawings, supplied by the architects, are almost always inaccurate, ie, plans and elevations not linig up, etc. Still, architectural models are not organic really, therefore, some measure of accuracy is required.

Well, if drawings are made with CAD, they should be perfect. In CAD, drawings could be and should be perfect. I’ve been almost ten years working with CAD and I’ve met only a person not able to linig up their plans and elevations in his CAD files.

When I drafted on paper, sometimes the paper got dilated during a humid night and the next day the house on the paper measured 10 centimeters more (in scale). That was innacuracy.

BTW, The only DXF format Blender accepts is DXF ACAD version 12, even so, only simple objects like lines, points and circles blender will accept.

use the search tool:

For the record, I’ve been successful importing files saved as high as ACAD 2000 .dxf. I’ve noticed something else: Blender sometimes doesn’t like curved lines - things get strange. I used a lisp routine that converts curves to segments with success - do a web search if you’re interested, 'cause I accidentally deleted it a month ago.:mad:

At any rate, this is something I want to keep experimenting with…I’ll keep y’all posted.