Rhino 8 for Architects

I’ve been reflecting on this for some years, and hopefully someone with more experience can provide more insight.

Could Rhino become a start-to-finish, full stack solution for professional architecture firms? Or will the field-specific development be lead by independent side-projects built on the Rhino engine?

I’m dreaming of starting my own firm one day, and Rhino is by far the most enjoyable program to work on architectural projects. I see so much potential, but I don’t know how complex the path is towards this goal.

I appreciate the hard work that is put into helping architects make use of Rhino. I’m not sure I’m asking this the right way, just wanted some insight into the long term goals.


Possibly, I know of a shipbuilder that not only does the design phase in Rhino but also the whole thing from start to finish for what falls within their realm. So I assume this should be possible for architecture as well. It may require the use of plugins/add-on software though.

Theoretically you could use even MS Paint for this as well :slightly_smiling_face:, I’m sure there is someone out there who could make it work, but that doesn’t mean it is the right tool to use.
There is a reason there is software like Revit, ArchiCAD, Vectorworks Architecht etc. etc. for architecture.

The big question is how efficient would it be to use Rhino, with or without plugins, from start to finish, i.e. how much effort would it take and whether are there other programs that can do it more efficient and better that would make more sense to use at some stage of the process.

Not to mention the issue of file compatibility incl. data retention within those files if you have to exchange files that may force you to use other software than Rhino if there is no plugin/add-on that would take care of that.


Hi Julian, that is exactly my dream too. I’ve already contacted the guys from VisualARQ to ask if there are any architecture firms using entirely Rhino incl. Plugins for all architecture phases. I think it is theoretically possible, but practically I’ve never met any architects using Rhino for construction documents, construction details etc. or any detailed 2d drawings.

I am not sure if Rhino can handle the organization & publishing process of let’s say hundreds of complex construction drawings (= normal for any bigger project). Nor I’ve seen any real complex 2d drawings created with Rhino. See some example from a current project of us (created with ArchiCAD). But of course if anybody can prove me wrong I will be the first one to switch completely to Rhino and would throw immediately these overpriced heavy & boring CAD-programs away :slight_smile:



Using surface modeling and a bit of Grasshopper (data driven) you can do almost anything, but like Art alludes to, there are lots of software that are specifically geared towards Architecture drawing production.

In your example Dimo the typical project is going to have many different input from the various trades. Those can be nightmare in any software. Given the right team and process this works well in Rhino; due to its flexibility with file formats, tolerances, etc. Granted these process typically stay in house, with the rare example of Front that shares some of tools of their flow.

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My opinion: if pen and paper were able to do build the Pantheon, then surely Rhinoceros is able to do architecture. At least at a small scale, before you actually might need BIM.

My biggest wish is only, that Rhino 7 (or then 8) will return to be able to handle large drawigns like Rhino 5 did. Because when you are doing execution plans you have tons of layouts, hatches and dimensions.


I have looked at your drawings.
It is very easy to get to this level of complexity, and beyond, using Rhino drafting tools, and the process of drafting itself will be nicer than in AutoCAD.
There is nothing special about them. There is a lots of information thrown in one drawing, making in cluttered and pretending they are professional (sorry if they are yours, I didn’t mean to offend your skills).
All of it you can do in Rhino, and if you follow this forum you should know by now that one thing, missing in Rhino compared to Autocad, is lack of dynamic blocks.

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Hi Piotr,
Sure, as I mentioned it seems possible, but why nobody does it?
I mean basically 2d drawings are a bunch of lines, hatches, blocks etc. But I am not sure if Rhino can handle this amount of drawings, different schales etc. And think about it, the question is not if you can create one drawing, but can you manage many hundreds of drawings that are interconnected and easy to be edited / updated / named / scaled etc. If so, again, do you know any arch office that use Rhino for the construction phase and bigger projects to exchange workflow & knowhow with them? The examples I’ve posted are only two drawings out of more than 500. If all that complexity is manageable with Rhino that would be heaven and we would for sure completely switch to Rhino without using any CAD at all :)))
Otherwise if you say it is possible, but there is not even one architecture office using it, then I am understandably a bit skeptical.


Hi Japhy, exactly I think is a matter of workflow & proper structure / file organization. But still, in the past I worked for many offices and know lots of architects, never met somebody doing everything in Rhino. That is why we have some resistance to switch completely to Rhino and ditch all that crappy overpriced CAD software :slight_smile: It is a shame to pay over 5000 € for a program like ArchiCAD to draw just 2d construction drawings & details. Because the 3d part of ArchiCAD compared to Rhino is a joke.

There is a two-hour video of what Rhino can do in terms of drafting and documentation capabilities for Morpheus hotel in Macau, done by ZHA and guys from Elefront.
Rhino is not ultimate documentation tool. There are better ones and for the large contract, having money, why would you go for more laborious solution. But your question was if Rhino can, and I said it can, with some limitations.
Some years ago I have participated in a large project, ca. 30k sqm, where I created ultimately precise (double-curvature) Rhino model which, when sliced, became base for hundreds of drawings done in Draftsight. Project has received many international awards for it’s design and is almost complete now.

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Hi Dimo, I agree with you on the workflow and structure issue, plus there is the issue of data as well.
Geometry wise Rhino can probably get the job done, but the rest is probably at least a bit problematic compared to dedicated software if there are no good plugins/add-ons to handle that.

ArchiCAD may be expensive, but it might be more cost effective than using Rhino and then I wouldn’t call it overpriced. If ArchiCAD costs 5,000 € but it saves you 10,000 € compared to using Rhino because it takes a lot more time in Rhino to document etc. the project then Rhino may be cheaper upfront but it will be more costly in the long(er) run.

This is why/where Julian and Dimo are wondering if Rhino can be a start-to finish solution. My guess is that it really depends on what you are doing. For some disciplines/projects it may be viable to use only Rhino, for others less so.

E.g. for my line of work Rhino isn’t a one size fits all solution, though it might be nice if it could be.

Hi Art, you are absolutely right. My issue with ArchiCAD is not only the price, but I find the program pretty heavy, not intuitive at all and regarding 3d-modeling a crap. And is pretty pity to have a fully detailed 3d-model in Rhino that you have to export to another program just for creating the construction documents. In a perfect world you would have a rhino plugin specialized in construction drawings / documentations etc. and close the circle.

That is absolutely correct. That’s why I am wondering if some arch office tried it and switched completely to Rhino. That is the only way we can have some real life feedback. Otherwise this is just speculation.

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The problem lied in lack of Rhino men skills, though I am not really sure it could handle this many drawings unless they are split in multiple files and then joined in worksession.
Besides, it was a company that valued Sketchup more than Rhino.

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It also very much depends on what kind of architecture you are doing.
I have worked for a company (Archicad only) who tried to do the complex masterplanning in Archicad.
It eventually landed on my desk and was completed in Rhino because they couldn’t quickly and reliably count 1600 apartments and lots of other function when the instant feedback was required.

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Valueing Sketchup more than Rhino definitely says something about the architects way of working :slight_smile:

A few years ago I looked at Sketchup and decided it wasn’t worth the effort to learn using it, in my opinion it was good for (basic) concepts without too much detail or using objects from the Sketchup library/store. Once you need a bit more detail, custom things etc. it got a bit too cumbersome to use to my liking. Yes you can do really nice stuff in Sketchup but other 3D software like Rhino does it probably better and faster in the long(er) run.


Rhino needs better publishing tools for large amounts of layout pages. It also need the ability to have tables of contents built in, which are dynamic and can be refreshed as you build up your models. This would go a long way to more architects and designers in general using Rhino.


There is a plugin for Rhino 5 that offers improved lay-out management/handling that might do what you mention, but it seems it is not available/working for Rhino 6/7.

Large amounts of pages are always a bit of a struggle with most CAD software compared to e.g. page lay-out software (not to mention Framemaker which is really good at that) but the publishing tools of Rhino can definitely use improvement, especially when it comes to title blocks (though there might be a plugin for that, I would have to look that up soon).

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There’s a couple of scripts floating around for layout publishing but they are limited, and to be honest its something that should be native and built into Rhino :+1:


Totally agreeing with this, it should be native and built into Rhino, that way you can also be sure it will be available throughout the entire Rhino users chain working on those models/drawings (assuming they are all at least on the version that has this)

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I do Rhinoceros for furniture and small projects, and ArchiCAD for larger projects.

ArchiCAD is absolute killer in handling lots of information and layouts with normal computers (Macbook Pros and Mac minis, like we have)