2D vs 3D Space Planning

Space plans are a fundamental element of any interior design process; they have great advantages in providing an accurate visualisation of the exact dimensions of the intended physical design of a space. Floor Plans can be made on both 2D and 3D bases providing different results which has been broken down in simple format for your understanding.

4 minute read

30th September, 2021 | Remarcable

Space plans are a fundamental element of any interior design process; they have great advantages in providing an accurate visualisation of the exact dimensions of the intended physical design of a space. Floor Plans can be made on both 2D and 3D bases providing different results which of course both contain advantages and disadvantages. Let's look at these in a bit more detail:

2D Space Planning:

A 2D space plan is like a 'map' showing the flat layout of a space from above without perspective or depth. It will often show the walls and room layout, plus fixed installations like windows, doors, and stairs as well as basic furniture placement. These can be hand-drawn or created on a 2D CAD digital software.

2D Space Plan Advantages:

  • Take less time to do
    A 2D space plan is a simplified drawing of the premises with pictorial symbols of furniture and decor which is the starting point of every good design layout.
  • Shows the necessary requirements
    A 2D space plan shows a very simplified overview of the layout both clearly and accurately allowing clients to concentrate on the essentials and not get distracted by the fine details. 
  • More Affordable
    The preparation of creating a standard 2D space plan that involves just furniture, door, and window placements can take less time to complete which therefore can make it more cost-effective for the client.

2D Space Plan Disadvantages:

  • Harder to read and understand
    When changes are required to be made to a 2D CAD plan they need to be reflected in all of the drawing perspective views, which requires the designer to recreate numerous drawings. Although 2D space planning is quicker to create than 3D the process of reviewing and editing is longer.  
  • Design changes are difficult
    When changes are required to be made to a 2D CAD plan they need to be reflected in all of the drawing perspective views, which requires the designer to recreate numerous drawings. Although 2D space planning is quicker to create than 3D the process of reviewing and editing is longer.  
  • No colour or detail
    A 2D space plan is more often than not in black and white and has simplified drawings to represent furniture items. It does not give clients the full picture of the exact colours, textures and style of items that have been proposed for the design.

3D Space Planning:

A 3D space plan is also known as a rendered space plan works on three axis x, y, and z meaning that the space plan can be viewed from the front, top and right side. A line-by-line wireframe and solid model of a space can be created digitally via advanced 3D technology providing finer detail into exact colours, textures, and furniture items that give an overall fairly realistic picture of the space with full 360-degree virtual tours and amazing walkthroughs. It is like fully experiencing the space prior to creating it.

3D Space Plan Advantages:


  • Allows visual proportions

With a 3D space plan, clients can visualise the entire scale and proportions of the space in digital model form with exact design details.

  • 3D plans can be rendered

Rendering is the process of creating a raster image based on the 3D objects in a scene. A renderer is used to calculate the appearance of the materials attached to the objects and recreate how lighting and shadows are calculated based on the lights placed in a scene - creating an artistic or photorealistic presentation of the overall design. 

  • Allows individual changes avoiding costly mistakes

Logistically a 3D space plan also gives you the ability to test stress factors and tolerances of a design before it?s built. Together we are able to make individual changes which can be done in live time during an arranged meeting. This provides you with the opportunity to explore different options, view different layouts to reach a satisfactory outcome removing any inconvenience of back and forth communication.

3D Space Plan Disadvantages:

  • Takes more time

Due to the more detailed visual that a 3D space plan provides it is more complex to create which takes longer to do. The rendering process lifts the walls from a 2D drawing to then add walls, windows and doors as well as texture, furniture items and lighting.

  • Larger investment of time and resources

As it takes more time to complete, requires more attention to detail and is therefore a bigger investment to make. However, providing such a detailed visual ensures a very clear picture of the finished design which makes it much easier for clients to be able to make a decision giving the opportunity to visually preview any potential changes for comparison.

    *What is Rendering? 
    Rendering is the process that comes after the completion of a 3D model, it is in fact an additional element to a 3D space plan. Rendering is a much more in-depth process where you can add lights, shadows, textures and other atmospheric elements to create the final walk-through of an entire design. This creates a photorealistic view of the design within the space even down to the exact detailing of how light will enter and reflect. 

    Having a 3D space plan is always a good investment to provide a much clearer idea of the design prior to spending any budget on any fit-out costs or furniture. However, the decision on having a 3D plan as well as a 2D plan really depends on your own ability for spatial visualisation. From an architectural perspective, a very clear understanding and visualisation of the design is the most important planning step for any project, bringing confidence in the final outcome.

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