software by architects
VARID by Foster + Partners and the University of London 

Four Pieces of Software By Architects, For Architects

These free, open-source technologies were developed by architecture teams to fill gaps in today’s software offerings. 

 01 ELLIPSE by Thornton Tomasetti 

Ellipse, a cloud-based AEC data studio, facilitates project visualization and interaction. It serves as a centralized platform for all project-related information, ensuring real-time access for design and construction team members. The platform offers 3D model viewers, 2D drawings, charts, filterable images, and other data visualization widgets. Ellipse promotes vertical integration, connecting industry-tailored spaces to a common database that can evolve throughout the project’s life span—bringing together models, drawings, BIM data, and documents.”

software by architects
software by architects

02 KALEIDOSCOPE by Payette 

Kaleidoscope assesses the embodied carbon emissions of different types of facade assemblies from various perspectives. Architects can evaluate their facade concepts based on environmental impact categories, life span, and biogenic carbon, and receive carbon emissions data per square foot, offering a straightforward metric for facade areas. Kaleidoscope is designed to complement, not substitute, whole-building life cycle assessments (LCA) in early design stages. It serves as a reference for the approximate magnitude of early LCA decisions, allowing designers to quickly compare the embodied carbon impacts of different standard building systems and design options. 

software by architects

03 LARK  by ZGF and the University of Washington Applied Research Consortium (ARC) 

Lark is open-source software designed to assist designers in simulating nonvisual light, which significantly influences the human circadian system. Light exposure, even at wavelengths we cannot see, has a profound impact on sleep-wake cycles, alertness, productivity, and overall health and well-being. Every light source and its interaction with indoor materials can either support or disrupt this rhythm, so being able to quantify and visualize these interactions can help designers enhance well-being. Lark v3.0 allows customization of spectral power distributions for the sky, sun, electric lights, glazing, and finishing materials. 

04 VARID by Foster + Partners and the University of London 

VARID (Virtual and Augmented Reality for Inclusive Design) is a design toolset employing VR/AR technologies to enhance design teams’ awareness of users with visual impairments. Through dynamic real-time image processing, VARID replicates various vision loss symptoms, including blurring, warping, or peripheral vision loss. This game-engine plug-in, compatible with a variety of VR/AR headsets, is data-driven and can generate personalized simulations based on specific clinical test results. 

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