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AIA22: BEST of SHOW Profile—Spaces for Architects

Conceptual design and its key participants are undeserved in the overall AEC workflow. Most of today’s architectural software is focused on the later stages of construction documentation and the construction itself. Spaces is a powerful yet easy-to-use sketching application that runs on iPad and Apple Pencil, created specifically for architects and designers.


Spaces conceptual design software for architects is a revolutionary new way of thinking about how architects sketch. Released in October 2021, Spaces is a powerful yet easy-to-use sketching application that runs on iPad with Apple Pencil, designed specifically for architects and designers.

Serving the Underserved

Conceptual design and its key participants—design architects, principals, and directors—are generally “underserved” in the overall AEC workflow. Most of today’s architectural software focuses on the later stages of design, documentation, and construction.

A sample Spaces sketch (image: Spaces)

A sample Spaces sketch (image: Spaces)

Created by Cerulean Labs founder, Campbell Yule, Spaces is aimed at those working at the early design stage. Spaces combines an easily-understood electronic sketchbook paradigm with a wealth of detailed building design data. Consequently, the software provides comprehensive space planning, sun studies, contextual information, and note-taking together with a sketchbook and snapshots, where you can even trace over existing designs and models.

Spaces BEST of SHOW


Spaces caught the attention of attendees at the AIA (American Institute of Architects) National Conference and Expo in Chicago last week. So it comes as no surprise that it received a 2022 Architosh BEST of SHOW award. As AIA, senior associate editor, Pete Evans observed:


“Spaces provides a creative, pen-driven, rapidly iterative, and intuitive UI on the Apple iPad with BIM-accurate high-level information feedback for reporting,”


What Spaces offers its users:

  • Sketching.
  • Modeling.
  • Site and contextual information.
  • Space planning.
  • Data-driven BIM (building information modeling).
  • Integration with existing systems.


Spaces turns your iPad and Apple Pencil into a powerful digital sketchbook. Despite all the other electronic design tools available to architects, sketching remains the quickest way to get your ideas down. It enables you to do this in a traditional and natural way.

Spaces sketching screen (image: Spaces)

Spaces sketching screen (image: Spaces)

Spaces allows you to send a 3D model to your sketchbook and use it to trace over a model and embellish, explore, and test your design. Effectively it combines the best of old and new methods in a single piece of software.


You don’t need any modeling ability in order to get started. Spaces allows architects and designers to mold and shape your design quickly. You can experiment with the overall form of your building and add architectural details to enhance your concept.

Spaces Conceptual Design for Architects modelling screen (image: Spaces)

Spaces Conceptual Design for Architects modeling screen (image: Spaces)

Spaces starts with the overall form and bulk of a building, while at the same time treating it as a multi-story building to extract valuable data. As the design evolves, this form can be further refined. Individual levels or groups of stories can be edited independently. Building facades can be applied and contoured to make the project more detailed.‍ You can assemble your basic design in minutes rather than hours with its powerful creation and editing tools. With a couple of taps, your building appears instantly, using Spaces’ auto-creation feature.

‍Site and Context

It is important that a new building should fit well in its future surroundings. So Spaces lets you import its surroundings so that you can shape your design and evaluate its performance in those environs. Your project can easily be assessed within its context and respond to its surroundings, whilst site data and ratios along with sun studies update in real-time.

Spaces Conceptual Design for Architects showing site information (image: Spaces)

Spaces Conceptual Design for Architects showing site information (image: Spaces)

It also allows you to import information about your building’s immediate environs directly from OSM (OpenStreetMap) to add context to your design. Simply enter your location and import the data. This adds context to your design, including OSM map tiles

However, sometimes all this extra visual information can clutter both your screen and your thoughts, thus making your design harder to visualize and work on. Spaces has that thought of that too. Surroundings can be hidden so that you only see your pure design.

  • Importing surroundings is part of a paid Spaces Subscription.

Space planning

Spaces Conceptual Design for Architects lets you create and/or import your spatial requirements. Users can do this at a simple level, based on gross usage of space. Or you can do it in a more granular manner, with detailed room-by-room space requirements. You can also create and review your reports to ensure that your design meets its original requirements. And you can break down your design into individual spaces to explore the overall layout and flow of your preliminary design.


You can edit the exterior shape and form of your design and have your interior spaces remain up to date. The data is always available to the user so you can instantly see the results of any changes that you make

  • Spaces planning is only available with a paid Spaces subscription.

Data-driven BIM

Spaces offers accurate BIM data at your fingertips. Its data-centric design keeps you informed as you make design decisions. Its real-time BIM data provides high-quality outcomes while ensuring you meet the project’s requirements.

Spaces Conceptual Design for Architects showing a BIM screen (image: Spaces)

Spaces showing a BIM screen (image: Spaces)

This means you can focus on your design while allowing Spaces to keep you informed with useful data and insights. As you develop your model with sketches, building, and site data, its floor areas and site ratios are simultaneously being calculated and reported live.

For example, changing the slope angle of a facade will cause all affected stories instantly to resize. Meanwhile, their updated floor areas are displayed on-screen, thus providing instant feedback to the designer.

It will also assign usages or space types for a more detailed data breakdown. Spaces might look like a pretty simple tool, but it’s actually got a lot of hidden depth and capability. These include:

  • Brief reports to compare your design against the project requirements
  • Building and usage reports
  • Detailed space reports
  • Site reports with automatic coverage and ratio reports

Integration with existing systems

In today’s workplace, it is essential for your core business tools to integrate with each other, leaving you free to focus on the design without having to worry about technical difficulties with the software.

The software is designed to integrate with your existing design workflow. It can export data via industry-standard file formats such as IFC, OBJ, and PDF.

This means it can be used for presentations and to kick start your design development using your existing preferred BIM system.

Learning Spaces

Spaces offers a comprehensive user support site, complete with training videos and webinars, designed to help users get started and learn its more advanced features. This can be found here.


Spaces Starter is free but many of its advanced features are unavailable to free users. The basic paid version costs USD 29 per month and offers unlimited projects, additional modeling tools, and project sharing. The Pro version costs USD 75 per month and offers all its advanced features. For more information about exactly what you get for your money, please click here.

Extended free Trial

To celebrate its Architosh AIA BEST of SHOW award, Spaces has moved back its sign-up deadline for its extended 3-month trial to allow more time to explore what Spaces has to offer. Originally planned to finish on 30 June, new users now have until 31 July 2021 to sign up and qualify for its extended trial.

  • To learn more about Spaces, please click here.
  • To find out more about Spaces developer Campbell Yule, click here.
  • Spaces is available now from Apple’s App Store.

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