Archicad vs Revit


For some years (4-5 years) I have been following the evolution of Archicad and Revit here in Brazil. Around here, Revit is way ahead, though the few Archicad users say it’s better than Revit.

What do you guys think about Archicad vs Revit? Which one is the best? Why? :slight_smile:


And this is a topic for a SketchUp forum because…?


To be fair it is posted in the corner bar (off topic section).

I’m also interested in knowing more about this, and how well they play with SU.


I’m not a current user of either program, so I can’t directly answer this, but I can make a few comments and throw SketchUp into the mix.

Over the course of several years sitting on Masters of Architecture thesis juries, I often asked what software the students used. Several years ago, I would say it was quite consistent that the more creative designs were done in SketchUp (I could usually tell SU output before even asking), while the work done by by students in REVIT were, well, rather uninspired designs. In more recent years, I would say the use of REVIT among them has grown, and SU shrunk a little, and I’ve seen better design work done in REVIT, so I can’t say it’s such a striking contrast anymore.

General impressions: REVIT is the preference of large firms doing big projects, while ArchiCAD appeals to small to medium sized firms. REVIT is most credited for helping to work out construction details with features like clash detection between structural and mechanical elements. That’s not saying much about powers of design creativity. Sorry to say, but students learn REVIT primarily for the prospect of getting hired out of school, despite the fact that SketchUp’s advertising campaign is currently trying to make that claim. I think it would be better to pitch SketchUp as the choice for the star designer; the student who stands out as the best designer in the class, and wants software with the greatest flexibility and design freedom that will carry through a career, not just a job.

My first foray into BIM was with Architrion in the late 1980’s when I was trained to be a trainer, but by 1990~91 I gave up on it as not ready for real world projects. ArchiCAD appeared on the scene right on the heels of Architrion, but it has survived to today. In 2003, I picked up ArchiCAD and SketchUp and was experimenting with both, and, after a few years, dropped ArchiCAD altogether in favor SketchUp. Once and a while, I’ve gone to presentations on ArchiCAD updates, and I have to say it has improved.

The main thing is this: BIM software is some software engineer’s interpretation of how an architect does his job, and it’s rigidly built into the application. If that isn’t exactly the way you like to think or do your job, too bad. SketchUp, on the other hand, is a general modeler that gives you the freedom to do whatever you like. It also means more work to figure out your own working method.

A programmer friend of mine some years ago made a comparison between Pascal and C++ which I could steal to compare BIM and SketchUp: With BIM you’re constantly asking, “Please let me do this, please let me do this?” while in SketchUp you’re constantly saying, “Ooops! I’m sorry I did that.” But at least it let me.


I regularly use both, and I think that an unambiguous winner cannot be found. Here come some of my observations:

User interface:
Revit is simple, basically a row of icon tabs plus a properties window and a project content browser. Some call it simplistic.
Archicad has a proliferation of windows, toolbars, popup windows etc accumulated through its long existence, rather like something like Blender, with some important settings well hidden.

General concepts
Revit is based quite strictly on a hierarchy of building elements
Archicad has a more loose model organization, partly layers familiar to those coming from CAD, partly on element naming.

Modelling basics
Revit is based on solid geometry generated by 3D and 2D drawing tools and operations.
Archicad uses face geometry generated similarly.

Revit is an integrated package with architectural, structural and MEP tools
Archicad is mainly for architecture

Content creation
Revit components are created in a modelling environment. Parameters can be added graphically
Archicad components (“objects”) are either autogenerated from selected model geometry or generated by a script written in the GDL language. Parametric objects require the use of GDL.

Revit is a subscription only service, $2200/year+VAT (if you need other Autodesk software, a little more gives you a suite of them)
Archicad has a purchase price (in our parts 6000€+VAT) and 880€+VAT/year for maintenance subscription

Models can be passed from one to the other only through IFC files, with some lost functionality in either direction.

Operability with SketchUp
Both can import SketchUp files (not the latest version v.8 is safest).
In Revit face geometry can be used mainly for reference. It makes an effort of importing SU “solids” as solid geometry. SU “curves” display all their facets in Revit
In Archicad you currently get the best results by exporting from SU to IFC as the IFC importer seems more modern.


Thanks for this comparison!


I have Revit and I downloaded Archicad for testing it… Side by side I prefer Archicad because is more intuitive for architects in my opinion…the version 21 has a lot of improvements especially in stairs where Revit is a nightmare…In one point I’m going to buy Archicad because I feel that I can focus more on the design rather how to model what I need (like SU does).
Regarding the price, Archicad has a more affordable version “Solo” and It’s around $2,600…you can always upgrade to the standard version and its limitations are minor In my opinion compared to Revit LT.


Go to and they have free access for one month… more than enough time to go thru the tutorials to learn Archicad.


Any of those allows you to model in perspective camera?


In Revit you have to go orthogonal views to draw a profile to get extrude it. I’ve been working on some house 100% sketchup but the time I saved during the design process it was wasted during construction documents and coordination…so I’m re-adjusting my workflow SU>Revit …and later on SU>ArchiCAD.

I use as well SU with enscape and SU with 3ds max + Vray.


I’m not sure it’s really a matter of what’s better - but the one program everyone is actually using. My architecture office is on Revit - and so are most of our consultants. It’s a dream to be able to load in mechanical files - and instantly see any problems pop up in 3D. At the end of the day - if you can avoid conversion, you’ll avoid confusion.


It depends what direction are you going… if you want to be an employee Revit is a better option, if you want to have your own firm/practice you can use whatever you feel is the right tool to improve your workflow and skills. As I said before with Archicad you are a focus on design and in Revit one part of your attention is what and how I’m going to create that family to show what I want to show… so the process is not very fluent.

for example, if you want to create a stair in Revit with a metal beam on the center and the metal support for the treads…you have to made in place beam and support, if you want to do it parametric you may use the railing tool to generate those supports and beam but fist you have to model the support as generic family and load it…in Archicad, you just select the style and done.

  1. Revit is free for students and Archicad is also free for students. This is good and bad. Good, because students do not need to spend money and bad because some universities don’t want to buy any other software (for example new SketchUp).

  2. Revit is only for PC. ArchiCad is for PC and MAC.

  3. ArchiCad contains good components library. In Revit in many cases you should define families by yourself.

  4. Both programs are not so good for early stage design proces as SketchUp. I think Revit and Archicad are very good for design authoring.

  5. In Revit you should draw/model everything on construction planes. You cannot draw something on several planes.


Yes, that’s exactly what I think is happening here in Brazil

Nice! I had never thought of it that way!

I think the same too!


You work with Revit, Archicad, SketchUp and you’re Sketchup Sage…

… and when do you sleep?

Thank you for sharing all your knowledge!


A few years ago, I researched the use of SketchUp + Tekla to detect conflicts in the models, but since I did not do any research, I do not know how it works.

To detect conflicts in SketchUp models, I’ve seen people use the “Color by Layer” style. Despite my lack of knowledge about BIM’s workings, I believe this should be a rudimentary way of resolving this issue …


Just one more question: have you @Anssi (or other person :slight_smile: ) worked with Catia software (from Dassault Systèmes)?

Thank you!


Interesting comments on the two -

I am however keen to know how is a good way to promote SketchUp Pro to firms that use either of these two software types as their main architectural tool. A CEO of a very large architectural firm tell me that they discourage their staff from using SketchUp!




I am promoting SketchUp Pro here in Cape Town, but am not getting much response from companies. I need some advice of how best to overcome the ‘resistance’ in even looking at the possibility of using SU Pro as their main tool. Revit is very strong here, some use ArchiCad.