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ToolTalk: Spaces 1.3 is a conceptual design tool for iPad for architects

Spaces is a new iOS app directed at the conceptual design phases of architecture, purpose-built for Apple’s powerful iPads and Apple Pencil.


Spaces 1.3 is a sketch-based conceptual design tool for architects that works on your Apple iPad. Developed by Cerulean Labs Limited in New Zealand, the new software is aimed at a segment of the architecture office that the company says is traditionally underserved. Namely, design architects, principals, and directors. Recently at version 1.2, the latest 1.3 release delivers new cladding tools and design options.

See most technology like CAD, 3D modeling, and BIM solutions are aimed at the later stages of the architectural design process; the earlier phases led upfront by principals of architecture offices, primarily, tend to be far less served. This group is also historically older in age and in many firms around the world has a lower competency level in CAD and BIM software.

Spaces 1.3

Spaces is fundamentally a 3D modeling program and leverages the Apple Pencil in the same way that Shapr3D does. Unlike Shapr3D, Spaces is built for architecture and includes tools that will help architects work more efficiently while in the early iterative stages of design.

Spaces the App

Spaces 1.3 is an app for the Apple iPad directed at design architects and principals in architecture firms. It is a conceptual design app that works with the Apple Pencil.

For example, while the architect is working by starting with the overall form of the building, square footage data is being calculated. Sculpt a facade and watch the overall data on the area change instantly.

Spaces also feature building levels or stories and these can be grouped and worked on independently. The program can also bring in site context data via Open Street Map and create the surrounding buildings in one step.

Starts at Free

Spaces the app just getting started and at version 1.3 the New Zealand-based developers are treating the new iPad tool like an open beta. Right now, users can download Spaces 1.3 for free from the Apple App Store. More advanced features are available via a paid subscription plan which includes a free one-month trial.

Spaces the App

Spaces 1.3 can tap the contextual power of Open Street Maps data.

We are unsure if Spaces will always include this freemium model with subscription-based plans for more powerful features or this is temporary as the software tool evolves from this early stage. To learn more visit here. And be sure to read our thoughts below.

Architosh Analysis and Commentary

This author-architect has long recognized the reality that the industry has largely ignored the pre and early design stage phases of the AEC design process, turning its back on it while it focused on BIM and various “D’s” of BIM during the construction planning and construction execution phases. Now the industry is focused further down the phase line with digital twins, but the good news there is data from digital twins becomes useful when it loops around back to the beginning of the process. 

Thoughts on the iPad Entry…

Centering this app on the iPad makes sense from two perspectives. The first one is those firm principals and design architects begin their work on trace paper. Early-stage work is super iterative and trace paper is simply a brilliant way to think through the design. And in this case, the iPad is merging the nature of trace paper (infinite roll) with the sketchbook, something that fewer architects seem to carry these days but is still incredibly useful. Spaces the app is simply a new form of trace paper. 

The second perspective is that mobile tools like the iPad with Apple Pencil are very powerful processing-wise. The current iPad Pro features the Apple M1 chip, a semiconductor that until just recently was faster than any Intel chip in the market in single-core processing. And single-core processing is all that matters in 3D modeling. (for more thoughts on this read what the founder of Shapr3D has to say about the iPad, (see: Architosh, “INSIDER: Shapr3D is Bold on Apple and CAD Dominance,” 23 July 2021).  Tablets are the most mobile form of computers when it comes to mobility. Nobody is really sketching on the fat chunky workstation laptops; no principals at design offices do not want to lug such a device around. What they want is something like trace paper. 

This new app is a very exciting development and one I look forward to reviewing here on Architosh soon. 

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