Arcon 3D Architect is an affordable alternative to the big boys of CAD software.

Computer-aided design (CAD) packages can be rather daunting for the beginner or casual user: prime examples being AutoCAD and VectorWorks; however, the new Arcon 3D Architect comes in at a considerably cheaper price at £199 replete with a simple, intuitive user-interface.

Arcon 3D Architect is clearly no substitute for the full AutoCAD/VectorWorks 'precision-engineering' experience, and as such it probably won't find itself installed in the offices of large architectural practices.

This notwithstanding, the Arcon 3D Architect software is excellent for a more robust method of visualising the mechanics of standard UK building construction (ie, pitched-roof houses) where it comes loaded with a host of templates for walls, ceilings and roofs.

Thus, Arcon 3D Architect is ideal for most speculative designs up to planning application, and is particularly useful for anyone wishing to visualise three-dimensionally what newly designed interior and/or exterior spaces can do. Master-planning for larger developments like blocks of flats or housing-estates, can also be designed.

Landscaping isn't forgotten either as it is a very important phase to the journey, arrival and exit contextualisation for 3D visualisations.

The quintessential aspects of architecture are all covered very well - you can user-define scale, imperial/metric, line-thickness, as well as orientating drawings correctly north. Particularly useful are the A3/A4 paper templates which cover most beginners' home/office based printing needs. For larger printing, exporting is possible via DXF files to A0 & A1 plotters, while AutoCAD .dwg (and .dxf) files can be imported, which aids functionality. Other file formats include, BMP, JPG, WMF, EMF, 2D DXF, 3DS (3D Studio) and MBA (Creative Lines). The 3D Architect package is well-organised with excellent, easy-to-use instructions via ‘Getting Started,' ‘3D Architect Revealed' and ‘Reference Guide' manuals.

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Arcon 3D Architect : Specs

  • Windows XP (SP2)/Vista
  • 1.32GB RAM
  • DVD-ROM drive
  • Windows XP (SP2)/Vista
  • 1.32GB RAM
  • DVD-ROM drive

OUR VERDICT

While not an outright replacement for AutoCAD or VectorWorks, Arcon's 3D Architect package is very user-friendly, allowing the beginner and casual-user to articulate standard aspects of architectural concepts, with useful construction templates included. The only slight blot on the horizon is Google's free SketchUp, available to visualise 3D architectural designs. However, 3D Architect is more sophisticated, and represents better value for the beginner and casual-user, than the payment-required SketchUp Pro and obviously, AutoCAD or VectorWorks.

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