Using 3D Tools to Visualize an Architectural Design – Part One


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This is the first of several posts describing how to use 3D tools, such as SketchUp Pro, to show clients and design review boards alternative designs for a proposed project. This is particularly useful when a client has difficulty visualizing how two dimensional drawings will result in a finished three dimensional project.

Later posts will show how design alternatives were created and presented to the client and how interior design and finishes may be incorporated into presentations.

The project described in this post calls for an addition to an existing house in Watercolor, FL with a new two-story carriage house to the rear of the main house.  The carriage house has a two car garage with a studio apartment above. The images are paired to first show a view of the final design in SketchUp contrasted with a photograph of the completed project.

The overall design intent was to make the family room addition and the two story carriage house appear to be part of the initial design and not as add-ons.  Below is an example using SketchUp Pro to help a client understand a proposed design as well as alternatives.  Because the designs can be viewed from any vantage point, the exterior and interior may be viewed with close to real-life perspective.

The first pair of images  above, shows an exterior view of the design with the main two story house to the left rear and the new carriage house in front to the right.  The site faces a street to the rear of this image and an alley runs along the visible facades turning off to the right of the images.  Because the site is fairly small, it was necessary to find ways to develop as large a floor area as possible.   The facades facing to the left are stepped back from each other in response to the very tight side yard setback requirements yet still permit a two car garage.  The stepped facades are facing west.

As built, there were very few changes from the final design and none of them are visible in this view.  The design was developed to maintain the front facade with open porch that extends across the entire front of the house.  This view of the design is looking down the alley towards the new carriage house.  The existing front porch and existing two story portion of the house are on the left.  The new one story family room addition is in the middle.

This is a detailed view of the new deck design.  The new family room addition is to the rear and an existing one story master bedroom to the right.  The room was stepped in from the two story portion of the house with a sloping roof that was similar in pitch to the front porch roof. The design shows the close approximation of the the SketchUp drawing and the final constructed design.

The new deck receives afternoon and early evening sunlight.  Breaking up the facades reduces the scale of the building elements as does the existing and new landscaping.

Watercolor has very strict controls on materials, colors and the overall design. All landscaping must be sustainable native materials.  No sod is used, pine straw is used instead to retain soil moisture, reducing watering requirements.

Part of the design challenge was to provide for new outside space and a private exterior stair to the carriage house.  The image on the right shows the final revised design with the stair rising from the right to the left.  The second floor door is now at the edge of the wall giving a longer wall space for the living area.

Here is the end view of the new carriage house, with the carriage house bathroom above a small storage area off of the garage.

Here you see another view of the completed project showing the eastern side of the carriage house with a central door leading into the garage.

In my next post I will will show how 3D rendering may be used to quickly show the affect of alternative designs in the design process.