What if architects could create design solutions before they even became a problem, and evolve spaces before they are built?David Weir-McCall
The technology of Virtual and Augmented Reality has become popular in recent times. It is used for gaming, fabrication, and marketing. The technology can be adapted for architectural use as well. It is a popular application to showcase design to the public and to clients. VR/AR is a dynamic, immersive experience that enables clients to be able to see and “walk” through conceptual designs. It can take some trial and error to properly use the VR/AR tools as folks can be distracted by the experience of the technology and they don’t necessarily pay attention to the design itself.
What I am interested in is: How can architectural designers/drafters use the VR/AR interfaces in the conceptual design process before it gets to the cliental presentations to improve overall design quality using less time to where the technology will be worth for architectural firms and schools to invest in more?
What I want to learn in researching this topic:
- How does the technology of Virtual and Augmented Reality work?
- Experience using Virtual Reality for design decisions and development.
- Investigate the benefits and the drawbacks of using Virtual Reality.
- Explore how different firms and trades use Virtual Reality.
- Learn the science of what one needs to include in the VR experience in order to properly convey what one intends to show by using the tool.
I had heard about Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality and was curious about the technology, but when I saw BRR Architecture (where I work) using VR for presentations I was curious to know how architecture can use VR. In the local area around me, I am aware that NorthWest Community College has VR more for gaming. The University of Arkansas has equipment for VR/AR, but I have yet to discover how these tools are implemented as I have not seen much interaction with this technology in the architecture program. From what I have discovered, the university does use VR for gaming and for documenting older architecture through their Tesseract program.
I know that BRR Architecture uses VR and I am sure that a handful of other architectural firms use the technology as well. Through the research, I know that an apartment company called MRV uses VR technology to showcase apartment designs and layout, saving the company $20 million over two years and keeping the unit rent price lower than what it could be if the showcase units were physically built. Companies like Callison RTLK and BVN have taken the VR technology and used it in their own research projects to discover the benefits and the science of using VR technology in design.
I have found that different engines and platforms that enhance/run the VR world include: Unreal, Fuzor, Twin Motion, Unity, Archviz. I want to look into these third parties to see if they have any showcasing recorded events that talk about their integration with architecture.
From what I have seen over and over again, VR is immersive and cost-saving. It is a method of communication and allows for immediate feedback. VR increases the quality of design decisions and presentations. It is a system that is reusable and can be accessed anywhere. It is a dynamic environment where one can implement physics and interactions within the model. Both sight and sound can lend themselves to the design in keeping one’s attention throughout the model. The experience brings people together and each experience is different for different people. The trick lies in making the design the main focal point and not just the experience of using VR technology.