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5 Most Prominent Approaches to Photorealistic Architectural Visualization

Learn different approaches to visualizing residential, commercial, and hospitality architectural projects and find out more about their special benefits and requirements.

The art of photorealistic architectural visualization serves a manifold purpose:

● Apart from producing gorgeous-looking and hyperrealistic imagery deserving of a place on the gallery wall, this fastidious technique is also a valuable asset to any ambitious architect.

● In communicating with clients, architects can use photorealistic architectural visualization to convey their ideas, give shape to their thoughts, and put them in real-life contexts.

● The visual impact of this technique is both powerful and telling – it simultaneously impresses clients and informs them, to the tiniest detail, of how a design will look once it’s completed.

As such, it is crucial for mutual understanding and clarity in architectural projects.

Depending on the nature of their projects, architects have five different photorealistic architectural visualization practices at their disposal.

All equally effective and challenging, they never fail to deliver high-quality results.

Here’s more about their separate benefits and requirements.

1. Residential Interior Rendering

IKEA has its AI app, but professional architects have something even better – a knack for devising beautiful, yet functional spaces from scratch.

And when it comes to residential interior design, they have all the right tools to visualize every nook and cranny of their original ideas.

Photorealistic architectural visualization allows for every single aspect of residential interior design to come to life, from structural elements to decorative details.

Residential interior rendering includes:

● Fully visualized rooms (family rooms, bedrooms, etc.)

● Rendered bathrooms, kitchens, and hallways, as well as utility rooms.

● Floor and furniture layouts with wall elevations and ceiling plans.

● Lighting scenarios for all angles.

● Material choices, textures, and colour schemes.

● Views from the windows.

● Decorative elements and general atmosphere.

Pretty comprehensive, right?

Thanks to rendering, interior designers can put their clients’ minds to ease and provide them with a sneak peek of how their homes will look like after the project is completed.

This is of crucial importance for the overall success of the project, given the fact that non-architects cannot always express their ideas with clarity or picture professionals’ visions.

How Long Does It Take?

This approach to photorealistic architectural visualization can be refreshingly easy or surprisingly complex – it all depends on the number of factors involved.

On average, residential interior rendering can be finished in:

● For a simple living room, architects usually don’t need more than three days.

● A loft-style studio apartment typically requires a whole week.

● For a two-story house, rendering takes about ten days.

Again, the project turnaround time depends on the quality and thoroughness of information offered by the client, which includes the size of the space and other references.

The architectural style and complexity of the project play important roles as well – the more unique and intricate the design is, the more time the rendering will take.

How Much Does It Cost?

The same rules apply to residential interior rendering project pricing.

For a basic project and average area size, photorealistic architectural visualization of a single Scandinavian-style living room usually costs around 350$.

The pricing varies based on room type and size – bedroom and kitchen renders cost around 250$ and 300$, respectively, while a two-story house render goes north of 1000$.

Custom-made 3D models of furniture cost extra money, though – from 65$ to 173$.

2. Residential Exterior Rendering

Unlike with residential interior rendering, architects use high-quality exterior visualization to showcase the outside of a building together with its environment.

This is where hyperrealism comes to its fullest.

While the first technique relies on molding to accentuate different layers and textures, exterior rendering does the same with leaves, grass, even animal fur.

Here’s what it usually includes:

● Structural elements, with a special emphasis on the facade.

● Shapes, materials, and finishes of the external surfaces.

● Parts of external construction design (patios, lanais, porches).

● A look at the surrounding area, including gardens, backyards, driveways, etc.

● The surrounding nature, landscape, and buildings.

● Natural daylight and artificial lighting in a night setting.

Everything that contributes to the overall atmosphere and ambiance of the building exterior can be included in this architectural visualization.

Its main purpose, of course, is to place the building into a context and offer a detailed portrayal of the finished project at different times of the day and in various seasonal settings.

Because of this, residential exterior renders often include parked vehicles, pets, backyard animals, and people enjoying nature in the outdoor zones as well.

How Long Does It Take?

Apart from garden furniture, residential exterior renders usually don’t include a great number of separate design elements. They also boast fewer different angles than interior renders.

This makes them easier to finish, unless, of course, they need to include other elements such as fully furnished decks, pool areas, or sculpture gardens.

After the 3D model is ready, it usually takes around three days to finish a photorealistic architectural visualization of a basic residential building exterior.

How Much Does It Cost?

Some of the factors that commonly affect the cost of residential exterior renders are:

● The complexity of the project.

● Architectural style.

● The intricacy of the facade.

● Balconies, windows, roofing, panel systems, etc.

● Exterior elements such as gardens and patios.

● The surrounding landscape.

Because there are many different elements that may or may not be involved in the architectural project, residential exterior renders are usually individually priced.

As a reference point, an exterior render of a two-story house costs between $430 and $650 for basic architectural styles and simple exterior elements.

3. Commercial Interior 3D Visualization

The aforementioned seven elements of interior design (space, line, forms, light, color, texture, and pattern) are essential for commercial interior visualization as well.

However, commercial interior design accentuates practicality.

While residential interior design focuses on creating a livable and welcoming space, a commercial interior design puts a bigger emphasis on efficiency and functionality.

But the aesthetic side of the commercial space must not be neglected. The ability to achieve the balance between these two aspects is a hallmark of a good architect.

Another side of commercial interior design is related to safety.

Not that this is not important in its residential counterpart, it’s that certain aspects of commercial space are regulated by workers’ rights and workplace safety compliances.

That said, the approach to photorealistic architectural visualization in the context or commercial interior design differs from residential rendering projects in more ways than one.

But these projects are very different among each other as well.

However unique, all living spaces are very much alike. Commercial interior design, however, envelops a wide range of public spaces that sometimes have nothing in common.

Compare a traditional office space to a cinema hall, for instance.

Whatever the case, commercial interior rendering must aim to provide a great amount of detail and produce lifelike models that demonstrate both aesthetics and functionality.

How Long Does It Take?

The turnaround time for commercial interior 3D visualization differs from project to project:

● For small projects such as a 50 m2 bakery, for instance, it takes about half a day.

● For larger projects such as a 100 m2 restaurant, it takes from five to ten days.

How Much Does It Cost?

The same can be said for project price, which is usually calculated for each case separately:

● To visualize a 50 m2 bakery, a client would need around 360$ to 470$.

● The price of a 100 m2  restaurant render goes around 388$ to 740$.

4. Commercial Exterior Visualization

High-rise buildings and corner offices – the appeal of one organization’s business headquarters has long been considered a mark of success and competitiveness.

The higher the edifice, the bigger the market share.

When it comes to commercial exterior, the general goal is to make the building stand out from the cityscape, convey a message of professionalism, and add some glitz to the brand.

Modern-looking glass windows, elegant lighting, stylish materials, and textures, as well as landscaping and fancy front entrance, can actually help a business boost its ROI.

And let’s not forget, businesses are ready to invest a lot of money in these projects.

That’s why commercial exterior visualization is of crucial importance. Without meticulous rendering, getting the green light on expensive project execution would be extremely difficult.

No matter the type of business, commercial exterior rendering must showcase:

● How the building fits into the landscape.

● What makes the building unique and impressive.

● How the building fits into the brand image.

Like with residential exterior rendering, this is accomplished with a detailed display of the facade, photorealistic environment, different lighting scenarios, and various camera angles.

Stylistic solutions are demonstrated as well, in addition to the chosen combination of materials and textiles. The approach also includes elements such as vehicles, passers-by, and trees.

How Long Does It Take?

The turnaround time for a commercial exterior visualization project depends on more factors than we can possibly count. On average, it takes about this long:

● A full-detail rendering of a skyscraper takes half a day, give or take a couple of hours.

● For a thorough concert hall render, an architect would need around two and a half days.

How Much Does It Cost?

The average price for a commercial exterior visualization project can be anywhere between 422$ and 720$. This is how much architects charge for shopping malls and business centers.

For any project smaller or bigger than these two, the price drops or climbs accordingly.

The price also depends on the complexity of the architectural style and form, as the materials used in a facade, and the surrounding elements that belong to the landscape.

5. Hospitality CGI

Hospitality is all about the experience.

Translated to TripAdvisor stars, this experience can be rated through a number of different elements, among which interior and exterior design play a crucial role.

Architecture is perhaps nowhere more holistic than in this industry.

From function, sustainability, and technology integration to the aesthetics, emotional appeal, and wow factor, a well-designed hotel must have it all.

Hospitality CGI thus incorporates all the elements of residential and commercial interior and exterior design to produce gorgeous-looking, liveable, functional, and welcoming hotels.

Due to the number of different elements involved, it can be said that this is the most complex approach to photorealistic architectural visualization.

To avoid listing them all, we’ll mention only the essential ones:

● Guest rooms, which must be conducive to rest and comfort.

● Luxury suites with added amenities, which cater to the needs of the most valued guests.

● Common areas, which include a reception area, restaurant, and lounge zones.

● Entertainment spaces, dedicated to entertainment and sports.

Be it as it may and regardless of how luxurious a given hotel is, this holistic approach to architectural visualization must demonstrate every selling point of both interior and exterior design.

How Long Does It Take?

At the risk of sounding repetitive, the turnaround time for hospitality CGI depends on the building’s size, style, and a myriad of other factors.

Most usually, a client can expect high-quality results in:

● For exterior CGI, the average turnaround time is two to three days.

● For interior CGI, the average turnaround time is half a day to ten days.

How Much Does It Cost?

The cost of photorealistic architectural visualization of a hotel can vary depending on, once again, the hotel’s scale and complexity of the interior and exterior design.

The median price for a minimalistic hospitality CGI is:

● For the exterior, the price fluctuates between $500 and $1000.

● For the interior, the price is the same as for other commercial projects.

Conclusion

In the visual art of architecture, the buildings speak for themselves.

But envisioning, designing, and building one from scratch is not an easy feat. With so many moving parts involved and so many people engaged in the project, architecture can be a tricky endeavor.

That’s where photorealistic architectural visualization comes into play, to speak for buildings before they can do so for themselves. And it does that rather faithfully.

Being the closest thing to the real deal, architectural renders help artists speak their vision too. Without visualization, many architects’ ideas would remain mute, unexpressed, and unrealized.