When did architects start using computers?

You need these materials when you study architecture

During her architecture degree, Anett Ring observed how the cost of study material rose proportionally with the number of semesters: “It all started with the first final presentation in the first semester. The costs for the model and the presentation plans were already quite high, ”recalls the architecture journalist and operator of the blog www.architektur-studieren.info. "The most expensive, however, were the materials and the printing costs for the master's thesis." The student magazine Unicum estimates the expenditure at 150 to 300 euros per semester.

A lot of money for some, but a lot can be saved: “You bring a lot with you from school, such as pencils, rulers and erasers. The hobby craftsmen also have cutter knives and wood glue at home, ”says Ring, who deals extensively with the right materials on her blog. So you don't have to spend large sums immediately at the start of your studies. “In the first few weeks, you quickly notice what is missing. At the end of the first semester you have the most important things together. ”In addition, many student councils organize material sales or students join forces to save on volume discounts when shopping.

Drawing material

Draw, erase, start again. For the creative process in architecture studies, especially in the first semesters, you need pens, sketch paper and other accessories. Drawing books are available in all shapes and colors and you can get lost in the choice of paper - not too thick or thin, better structured or smooth? The choice of pens is even more extensive. Pencils with different degrees of hardness, sketch pens with different line widths and colors, pigment and ink pens, markers, watercolor pencils, pastel chalk. The list can be continued at will. In addition, sharpeners, kneaded erasers, eraser pens, glass erasers, paper wipers, drawing brooms.

Architecture students cannot have enough tracing and drawing paper. There is also a drawing board with a ruler and angle that helps with geometric construction. Just like the triangle, the drawing triangle, stencils, compasses and tearing rails, and last but not least, a transport roller and a large drawing folder to safely transport the finished drawings and plans.

You will need these materials for your architecture studies:

  • Sketch pens
  • Pigment and / or ink pens
  • marker
  • Pencils (preferably mechanical pencils, TK pens)
  • Tear bar
  • Circle
  • triangle ruler
  • Transport roller
  • Drawing portfolio
  • Transparent Paper
  • Triangular scale

Hardware and software

Drawing and sketching by hand play a subordinate role in architecture in advanced studies and later in the job. The technical drawing and the drafts then mainly take place on the computer. This requires powerful computers to operate the 2D or 3D CAD programs ('computer-aided design') and the BIM software ('building information modeling') smoothly. The CAD programs are used to plan, construct, draw and document drafts. BIM software is used to carry out and manage planning. Students do not have to spend any money on CAD and BIM software, for this there are usually free licenses from the manufacturers.

The situation is different with rendering and image processing programs. Using render programs, 3D models can be supplemented with textures, reflections or shadows, for example, and thus obtain a certain degree of reality. Photo collages can be created on the computer or photographs can be post-processed with image processing programs. Some providers offer free versions for students, others only have discounted versions.

The student council of the TU Kaiserslautern recommends not to buy a new computer at the beginning of your studies if you need one. There, the students do not do any digital work in the first two semesters. At other universities it can be different, so it is worth taking a look at the course catalog. The TU Dresden, for example, advises against using laptops and is in favor of PCs.

You need this hardware and software

  • CAD program depending on the university (AutoCAD, ArchiCAD, VectorWorks e.g.)
  • BIM software
  • Adobe programs like Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator


Modeling is a top priority in architecture studies. The students work on draft models for presentations, exhibitions, theses or competitions. The most common materials are wood, cardboard and Styrodur panels. Most universities have large devices such as electric saws, 3-D printers, hot-wire cutters and laser cutters available in their workshops. In the studio you should have a good cutter knife, scalpel, wood glue, a long cutting ruler and a cutting mat.

For model building you need

  • Cutter knife
  • scalpel
  • Wood glue
  • Cutting ruler
  • Cutting mat

Support at the universities

The faculties of the universities distribute detailed lists of materials at the beginning of the course. Numerous dedicated student councils are on hand to help students, especially in the first semester. For example, the student council for architecture at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern advises not to buy any materials at the start of your studies. Here - as with many other universities - there is a cooperation with a local stationery store that offers a starter package. Other student councils organize material sales, sometimes used utensils, in order to keep costs low.

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