Sketch Up: great non-profit tool, and it isn't sketchy

NetSquared's picture

The latest version of Google's software was released yesterday.   Aside from having a cute name, the software has some great potential use in your non-profit toolbox.

For those that haven't played with it, SketchUp is a three dimensional modeling program.   That means you can create little virtual models of practically anything: a house, a train, a space station, a dinosaur.   Well, it's really geared towards mechanical things - my dinosaur comes out looking a little funky.

There are two aspects of SketchUp that make it stand out from your usual high-end, computer-aided-design, rocket scientist-friendly software.   First, it's not just designed for architects: anyone can get a handle on it pretty quickly.   Second, you can share your designs, in a virtual , for others to use - and you can place them in .   Build a virtual Eiffel tower, and place it in Paris.   Or share it with others, and let them build an addition onto it - sacre bleu!

Cest magnifique!

C'est magnifique!

So, although great fun for the Lego builder set, how could this tool be useful to a non-profit?   One example can be found in the competition that Google and launched back in June.   They put out a call for designs for something called a sportable: "highly transportable and deployable play spaces that are sustainable infrastructure nodes."   In human-speak, that's a pop-up facility to rent sports gear as well as a safe space for youth to play in. They are designed for tough urban areas, where opportunities to engage youth in a positive experience with sport might be few and far between. When the youth are done, the sportable could pack up and tuck away - or be carted off to the next location.   In the end, the sportables competition created some great , and brought attention to both Architecture for Humanity, and issues of youth and sport.

Now, how could you use SketchUp?   …