How Virtual Reality is Changing Architecture

    by Nick Rockafellow on Jan 30, 2018 10:08:00 AM

    In the last few years, no technology has been more hyped up or promising than Virtual Reality (VR). Everyone from large tech companies to scrappy startups are investing in the technology. Virtual Reality is able to transport the viewer to any entirely new experience or area in the world! Every walk of life, from gaming and corporate training to advertising and medical procedures, are being changed by the technology. Architecture is no exception! Let’s look at a just a few of the ways that Virtual Reality is changing architecture.

    Visualization

    For architect’s, convincing a client to buy into a vision and design for any space can be difficult. Clients and potential clients have become harder to impress as they have become accustomed to seeing the traditional layouts and design formats used by most firms. So what can solve this problem? Virtual reality visualization software! Instead of having a simple layout, video, or image of the potential project, virtual reality environments allow for the user to view the project from any angle (above, outside, inside every room, and every other possible view).

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    Along with current clients, potential clients are able to benefits from virtual reality visualization software and platforms. During the proposal process, most architecture firms use the same display and presentation tactics while pitching potential clients. Clients soliciting designs from several different firms become inundated in the process as they see the same type of presentation over and over again. VR visualization software is able to differentiate a firm’s designs from the competition! By presenting their designs in a much more engaging and visually stimulating manner, VR visualization software is able to shorten the sales cycle and increase closings!

    Design

    When the technology first launched, Virtual Reality was only able to transport the person to an entirely new area. Now, the technology has progressed to where users are able to actually interact with objects and scenarios in real time. For architects and designers, this adds another level of flexibility to the design process.

    After a design is complete, the architect is able to upload their work into a VR platform and see what it looks like. While virtually walking through the building, if they aren’t as attracted as they originally were to several elements like the shape of a wall or configuration of a patio, they can quickly and easily mark up, highlight, and change the building directly in the VR platform. This ability speeds up and clarifies the design process!

    3647247867_f78b3b1b81_b.jpgSource: NMC Virtual Worlds

    Client Communications

    The communication process between clients and their architecture firms and designers can be frustrating, to say the least. Sending designs over email, waiting for a reply by the client with notes, and creating new designs based on what the clients desires only to start the communication process over again can be extremely frustrating. Virtual reality design environments and platforms are able to alleviate this frustrating process for two main reasons.

    First, clients and architects don’t have to be in the same room to view a VR environment. Clients are able to view the building from the comfort of their own office, and the only hardware needed to view an architect’s designs is a headset compatible with the platform. Second, some platforms, like our nuReality, allow for instantaneous markups. This means the client can highlight, point to, and markup the design on the spot while the architect watches from any other room in the world! This allows for the back and forth process to be almost cut in half!

    Environmental Data

    Whether it’s video, images, or any other traditional type of display system, it’s hard to display environment data on an image. Videos and images can incorporate environmental elements such as sunlight or reflections to an extent, but these can’t be experienced until the building is actually built. Or at least, they used to be unable to be experienced. By overlaying a virtual reality environment with environmental data, elements such as safety, sunlight, heat, and others can “come to life” and be felt by the client. For clients such as museums or businesses, this type of environmental data can be critical and make the difference between a successful or unsuccessful building!

    VR Environmental Factors Image.jpgSource: Joyardley

    So what’s next? If Virtual Reality can already affect all of these aspects of architecture, where is it going? The answer is simple. It’s becoming cheaper and more effective! With large companies such as Google and Apple investing in innovations in hardware, the headsets and other hardware required for Virtual Reality platforms is steadily decreasing every day.

    How is it becoming more effective? VR platforms used to require the architects to go back and forth with the VR company. With more human involvement comes a higher potential for risk and mistakes. Now, several platforms are able to auto-generate experiences based solely on the designs! Expect to see and experience more VR solutions in the coming year!

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