Google Sketchup

Posted on 18/08/11

I still remember the first time I used Sketch-Up. I was doing my post-GCSE work experience at Broadway Malyan Architects in Manchester and I was amazed at the images they were able to create that were almost photorealistic whilst I struggled to draw something that passed as a building.

When colleagues at Breathing Buildings asked me "How many architects actually use Sketch-Up?", I had to reply that I was pretty sure that there wasn't an architect who hadn't used it at some point. In my experience as an architecture student, being taught to draw a 2-point perspective was an arduous task, quickly replaced with quickly 'Sketching-Up' your view, then importing it straight into Photoshop to make it look good! And it wasn't half bad for drawing plans, sections and elevations either…

As a Consulting Engineer with Breathing Buildings I visit a lot of architect's offices and take a look at the images on display, and it's normally apparent that some Sketch-Up has gone into those presentation boards somewhere along the line.

As a student I never got competent enough as a Sketch-Up user to do the photorealistic stuff that I could use straight into a presentation, so to me Sketch-Up will always be the easiest wayto visualise your ideas in 3-Dimensions, giving me a way to see how things really fit together which I found easy to forget about when just drawing in plans and sections.

At Breathing Buildings I started to use Sketch-Up to draw up my ideas for proposals, as I find it far easier to draw what I mean than write it in words. Which is easier to understand?


In order to make the F-series system work, we recommend that an supplementary opening is provided at high level, as well as the opening which is required above the F-series unit. This opening will be used as extra opening in the summertime to prevent overheating and will be the wintertime outflow, whilst the F-series will be the wintertime inflow when external temperature is less than 16degC.

Or this:

F-series Google Sketchup


As I did more and more of these images, I started to want a bank of units which I could import every time I was drawing a general arrangement drawing for a project. And so I started to build up some models for the Google 3D Warehouse.

Mechanical design might not be what Sketch-Up is best at, but using our CAD Library I began to build all of Breathing Buildings' units in Sketch-Up to the required degree of accuracy where I could just drop them into my room, fit some grilles, draw a curb, import the roof terminal and then be able to export internal and external views which are hopefully useful to our clients.

For a free tool, I can't believe how useful Google Sketch-Up has been to me so far in my career and I know there's still more to learn, like the Bubble tool (how many hours of Rhino could you have saved me?).

Fiona Dickinson

Breathing Buildings


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