Originally architectural design was a very time-consuming, manual process. Plans were created by with a nothing but a few primitive drawing tools.

Evolution of Design Process

A pencil, a ruler, some paper and an imagination was all that was needed to create wonderful designs. This was fine when it came to the overall look of the building, as this is a process that perhaps benefits from a flowing, evolving process. But once the ‘look’ of the building has been decided upon, the technical drawings need to be put in place. These consist of elevations, floor plans, details and technical sections, all of which contain a lot of detail and a lot of information. But the process was still the same.

The architect or designer had to sit at their drawing board and manually create these drawings for every part of the building. And what if part of the design had to be modified that affected a large part of the building? Well that meant going back through each and every drawing, with a blade and rubber, and editing each drawing, of which there could be hundreds for a single building.

As building got ever bigger, there was a need for a more efficient way of designing them.

Then came the CAD revolution of the 1980s. Computer Aided Design software moved drafting from the drawing board to the computer screen.

This saved countless hours in the design process and in creating technical drawings. Elements such as windows and doors which were repeated throughout the drawings could be easily copied and pasted rather than having to draw them individually. Accuracy was improved as measurement could be taken and dimensions were automatically created.

If there was something to be changed on a drawing, it was done quickly and easily on the computer and a new drawing was simply printed out. With CAD programmes, productivity was greatly improved and with it the costs of designing and planning a building were reduced as less time was required and more importantly, accuracy was improved and human error reduced.

Again, building got bigger and ever more complex and boundary pushing. The complexity of these designs was not transmitted well in 2D lines and shapes, so there was a need for something new, and this led to 3D CAD.

3D CAD software allowed designers to create, manipulate and visualize any 3D form or shape they could imagine, allowing them to really bring their design concepts to life.

Not only this, but designers learnt that by designing their building in 3D CAD, they were automatically creating their plans, elevations and sections, and therefore removing the need to produce individual drawings for each of these.

Again, productivity and accuracy were vastly improved. Designers could communicate their design concepts to non-technical minds and create ever increasingly complex solutions.

About The Author: Victor Mansfield is an architect. He loves using free CAD blocks in his designs and he doesn’t know where he’d be without them. Click here for more information on how CAD works.