The Best Architect Design Software for Urban Designers

The Best Architect Design Software for Urban Designers

This post is a closer look at urban design and will answer the main question, “What softwares do urban designers use for their projects?

September 12, 2021

When you see a great city with attractive aesthetics and functional systems, it implies that a lot of work has gone into its architectural design. Like a house, every component of a town, from the transport system to public parks, has to be conceptualized and then implemented to make the city functional and enjoyable for all. Urban designers do comprehensive urban analysis and then use advanced architect design software for city plans. This post is a closer look at urban design and will answer the main question, “What softwares do urban designers use for their projects? Read more about the best architecture software in 2021.

How Do You Create a City?

Before looking at the best software for urban design, it is important to understand how cities are created. 

How Do You Create a City?

It might sound interesting because there are so many cities around, but most of them were not carefully designed, resulting in major problems, such as challenges in waste management, traffic control, and uncontrolled property development. So, how exactly do you create a city? Here are some of the considerations that designers use for urban plans

  • Build cities for people and not simply fun to make them functional. Think of it this way -there is no need to create a city with so much pomp, yet the traffic cannot flow easily, or it is full of crime. So, they think of people first and plan for systems that make their lives, businesses, movement, and interaction easy. 
  • They make sure to provide ample open spaces. When planning for new cities, open spaces should be given a lot of focus to make them liveable. Enough land should be allocated for play areas, parks, and other community facilities. The transport system should also be carefully thought about to ensure better accessibility
  • As more people appreciate sustainability, a good city should put a lot of focus on green infrastructure. This does not just help to enhance the aesthetic appeal but will be a crucial component in cutting down the city's carbon footprint. This does not mean aesthetics are not crucial. Indeed, they are integral parts of city design projects, and planners look at the bigger picture – to have an attractive and sustainable city. 
  • When creating a city, urban designers do not always have to reinvent what has already been done. A good city looks forward to shortening the supply chain, such as that of foodstuffs that can be grown locally. Think of a honey seller with beehives on the rooftop. This means that honey will not need to be imported from other countries. 

These are only a few of the things that designers factor in when making cities. They also factor waste management which is generated as people go about their businesses, empowering people by supporting what they do and promoting communal living. 

What Softwares Do Urban Designers Use?

Now that we have established how cities are created, here are the best softwares that designers use. 


GIMP (shortening for GNU Image Manipulation Program) is one of the most popular tools for urban design. It is a raster-based image manipulation application that works like Adobe Photoshop. Whether you are a new or an experienced designer, GMP is pretty easy to use. You can easily edit images, overlay images on maps, and add texts. What is more enjoyable about this architectural design software for is that it is not just effective, but also free!

If you are getting started in urban design, GIMP can be particularly useful because it comes with multiple educational resources. For example, you can use the free tutorials to sharpen your skills in urban design, and interior designs. 


SketchUp is another highly valuable CAD tool for architecture that no urban designer or planer wants to miss. You might want to liken it to AutoCAD or Revit, which are developed by AutoDesk. The software is particularly useful because it allows rendering in 3D, making it easy to visualize all aspects of the city, including transport network, parks, and buildings. When designing buildings it comes in handy for floor plans, interior design, and entire construction project. If some of your team members use Google Earth, SketchUp also integrates well with it. Although it is a paid app, you can also use the free version.  

Digital Blue Foam

Digital Blue Foam is the newest kid on the block in architecture softwares. DBF software has been created by domain experts having extensive experience in the fields on architecture and computational design. The latest version boasts of the following features:

  • Intelligent 3D sketching in the browser
  • Urban Insights analysis for 15 minute city design
  • Advanced Generative Typologies
  • Realtime tenancy automation and metrics
  • LIVE Sync to your favourite BIM software with DBF hub.

A huge benefit of Digital Blue Foam is that you can use it (currently) for free and the beta version has opened up all the key features of the advanced packages making it ideal for creating professional models for your clients. So, start by reviewing the features you want, and use it until the beta is free and open for all.

The beta version makes Digital Blue Foam a great pick for new urban designers, planners, architects or students who want to quickly create fantastic designs and plans. Create fast, impressive 3D models with the added value of feasibility analysis for your prospective clients.


Most urban designers who use GIMP are likely to also have or use Inkscape. It is a vector-based tool for graphic manipulation. Therefore, urban planners and designers find it an invaluable tool for manipulating lines and shapes on maps. It can be comparable to the Adobe Illustrator and designers love it because of its flexibility and ease of use. Another app that you might want to check when working with nkscape, is Revit.


Are you a city designer or planner looking forward to expanding your capabilities in architecture and building information modeling? Well, one of the best design software for architects to use is QGIS. It is a powerful design and open-source GIS tool that is compatible with Esri. With QGIS, an urban designer is able to view multiple layers of data mapped into each other or elements with a specific set of criteria. Furthermore, the software can help the planner to examine proximities, determine distance calculations, and promptly determine ground maps. Like many urban planning apps from AutoDesk, QGIS also makes collaboration with other team members easy. 

Google Earth

One of the most useful apps for architects today is Google Earth because of its diverse applications. For urban planners, Google Earth comes in handy because it provides an axonometric view (a sort of view one gets from a low flying airplane). It also comes with impressive features, such as the ability to experience 3D perspective and measuring distance between different sections. Furthermore, the tool integrates well with other top architect design software, such as AutoCaAD, SketchUp and GIMP. 

This post has demonstrated that unlike in the past, when cities were developed sporadically, the modern ones involve a lot of project planning and consultations. Urban designers look at all aspects of the city and anticipate challenges that might arise with time. To make the cities functional, more effective, aesthetically appealing, and enjoyable to live in, they use the best CAD architect design software that we have listed in this post for building information modeling. If you are a new urban designer or want to join the profession, make sure to pick the preferred software, factoring the compatibility with your operating system, rendering ability, and practice working with it.

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