With the recent advent in the field of technology, architecture is improving by leaps and bounds. Any architect who isn’t adapting himself to the changing design processes may soon find himself lagging behind. Thanks to the availability as well as the affordability of the head-mounted virtual displays, virtual reality is slowly becoming in reach for architects from diverse backgrounds.
Though it seems so, virtual reality is not really a brand-new concept. The game console Virtual Boy, released by Nintendo in the mid-1990s, though, isn’t a strong contender today but did carve its name in history. Today, of course, VR is way more advanced and radical. Technologies such as HTC Vive, Oculus Rift have given a new dimension and opened plenty of new doors for architects. With every passing day, the world sees an improvement in technology, offering everyone the opportunity to showcase their work in a better and progressive manner. With the right VR tools, architects can not only show their client what the end design would look like, rather they can put the client in the middle of the plan.
What is Virtual Reality for Architecture?
For even the most established architects or architecture companies, it is often a challenge to make their clients see the design of the structure through their eyes. A 2D or a 3D representation indeed gives a better idea, but using virtual reality for architecture helps the client take a leap of faith. When it comes to virtual reality, there is immense potential for designers and architects. From the mock-up design to the final touches to the building, the client’s experience can go from good to great. VR gives the architect the capacity to not only receive valuable and workable feedback but also makes decision-making easier. This further increases his efficiency and productivity.
Sometimes, even the best architects can face challenges in communicating their ideas to their clients successfully. An architect himself would be able to conceive the idea of what floor plans or rendering options he would be using, and he may be able to convey the same through his designs and models, however, very precise communication can be a hurdle. This is when VR can come to his rescue. Through VR, a user is given the experience as if he or she were present within the given virtual environment. The user can view the design in 3D rather than looking at a drawing or a screen or a model.
Virtual Reality and Architecture – The Perfect Couple
With the help of this immersive technology, the client would be transported into an interactive environment. This 3D experience would give the client a chance to discover the virtual reproduction of a specific room or structure or building as a whole. This presentation tool will help the client in comprehending how the final product would look like, which would further help them make up their mind about the things they liked and the things they did not. The visual feedback that the architect would receive can thus be incorporated into the final plan.
Virtual Reality – Changing the course of architecture
“The incredible thing about the technology is that you feel like you’re actually present in another place with other people. People who try it say it’s different from anything they’ve ever experienced in their lives.” — Mark Zuckerberg
The many impressive features of virtual reality will surely sweep your clients off their feet. While others are giving computer presentations and presenting models, you would offer interactivity with the structure. Thus creating stronger and lasting impressions. VR also allows the architect to work in a safer as well as much more efficient workplace. When lesser effort and money is spent on fixing things, staying on schedule and within the budget becomes easier.
The future of virtual reality for architecture
Even though the journey in the field of VR has just begun, there has been an enormous increase in the number of platforms and avenues that have been opened for us. Virtual reality for architecture is soon going to be an integral part of architectural design, as it would not only help in boosting construction, improving quality control, but also offering a smooth client experience that would go way beyond the design aspect.
Virtual reality in architecture has a great potential that can bring complete transformation in how an architect can immerse his clients in the process. As VR would incorporate a lot of data, the client would get a better idea of how the design would work in the real world. When the architect is able to identify the problem or the error at an early stage, he can be on the page as his client, saving them both time and money.
Benefits of Virtual Reality for Architecture
Virtual reality as talked above has numerous benefits in the field of architecture and designing. The feeling of designs turning into reality provided by VR benefits both the architects as well as the end-users.
Turns imagination into reality
It is obvious that when a designer plans to build a model in a 2D format he imagines the whole structure in his mind and tries to form what was instructed by the client. He may himself remain unsure of what would be the final structure before it is actually built. However, with Virtual Reality, technology has given us a gift to project our imaginations into visible models.
Architects now instead of predicting, can visualize their designs and see their end results to analyze the details they might have missed earlier. By doing this as an architect, you can personally experience the complexities of the design and make your client happier while providing them with even the smallest details required.
Understand space management in a better way
It is often said that human minds are incapable of understanding the spatial characteristics of a plot. While in the case of designers, they not only have to imagine the spaces but also manage them to build an efficient property. However, with the entry of VR technology into the field of architecture, designers can now virtually inhabit the space and analyze the spatial qualities of the plot to place every aspect of the design in their right places. They can even check the suitability and relationships of the spaces with the design aspects and can alter if any problem arises before the project reaches the client.
The new tech-savvy inventions remain less popular at the time of their launch. This is because firms and target organizations fear losing their money if they invest in some technology that later on doesn’t prove to be useful. Similar was the case when VR was launched a decade earlier, it was costlier and new for the firms to experiment with and thus, was ignored.
However, today VR instruments have been modified and rebuilt by developers so that they can be purchased easily by any big or small designing organization at a much affordable price than ever. An estimate of $ 8,000 would be required to be invested towards all the VR gears and software installation procedures. Moreover, it will prove to be a short-time profit-giving investment tool as the new technology will excite clients and even help the designer team to work at a much faster pace.
Stay ahead of rivals and competitors
When running a business it is very important to track the doings of your competitors and to keep outdoing them at every possible point. What would be a better way of gaining an edge over them in this digitalized world than adding brand new technologies to your team?
If you are fully prepared to present the design to your client and are planning to do it through VR it would be a much-personalized experience for both of you. There is a very high chance that the victory will be yours. Your clients, instead of just sitting in the hall and looking at the not-so-interactive projector boards, would be rather pleased and excited if they could actually feel themselves walking around the model. With the merger of VR technology and your uniquely designed models, your clients will not at all hesitate to assign you their projects as they can already see and feel the essence of the final product.
Best for training purposes
If you have recruited new engineering or designing professionals for your team, it’s essential to train them first. However, training can often be a difficult task for architectural professionals because you might not be able to direct them exactly about your requirements. Here’s the place where Virtual Reality proves to be most useful.
Your trainees could now walk around the models and understand the type of work your firm requires. This interactive tool will engage your trainees and help them learn faster at a better pace, that too, very simply and easily. You can even create visual tours and virtual models for your team when starting with a new project. This will give the crewmates and the staff a clearer view of how to move ahead with the work. All in all, virtual reality techniques still make your work easier, innovative, and much more detailed.
Fastens the feedback process
Once you have presented the project to your client the real tension starts as to whether he will like the model and what will be his feedback. Often the clients, unable to find details for the first time, keep on requesting several revisions and changes in the model which can be a hectic job for the designers. To ease the process, you can use your virtual reality gears and software to give your client a real-time experience and virtual tour of the designed building or structure. In this way, he would be virtually present on the property where he can roam around and look for any potential changes that will further reduce your time and energy.
This VR software can even allow your clients to experience the aesthetic features of the model like wall colors, floor textures, lightings, sound effects, and furniture.
Makes communication easy
When different designers or people of an architectural team get together inside the VR model, there is an amalgamation of interests and ideas. From a very early stage, the collaboration allows observant attention to detail. Even the minutiae are discussed and communicated. Such exchange of ideas may not have been possible at such an initial stage. Communication thus becomes easier and more open, as both the parties – architect and the client, know what they see and can make up their mind if they are liking it or not.
Benefits for clients or end-users
- A personalized experience for the client
A group of clients, tenants, buyers, or stakeholders can have different opinions and suggestions for the model which might get missed in the case of normal presentations wherein designs are shown as simple drawings and 2D models. With the help of VR technology, this problem can be solved too. Each person on the client’s team can have their personalized experience and can accordingly project their individual feedback to the designers. By the use of Virtual Reality techniques, clients can experience the entire environment created by the designer and can have a closer look at each aspect added to the design.
- Better visualization of the design
The client can visualize the designer’s efforts and vision in the clearest way through using VR technology. Not only can they feel their dream project transforming into reality, but they can also roam around the building, analyze the aesthetic and make the relevant changes by themselves if they feel like it.
VR can help in invoking a positive reaction in the client, which is very similar to what otherwise only physical architecture can achieve. This personal visualization process helps the clients to understand their own needs which they pass on to the architects to make the project the best.
- Stills and Videos make it easy to understand the design
There are a number of applications today that help in creating single-point panoramic 360° views. This makes it easy for the client to experience and understand the design/ plan as if he or she is physically inside the structure.
That’s not all, by using the animation techniques, the client-viewer would also be able to control where they move. They could move at the fixed path and look around through the space.
- A time & money-saver tool for the customer too
For numerous reasons, using VR gear and software can save a massive amount of time, money, and energy for both the clients and the designers. The clients can easily estimate the changes to be made and therefore supply them to their buyers or tenants before the promised date.
Also, as the clients give the feedback in a straightforward manner, the designers can make relevant changes and deliver the project at a faster pace. Thus saving time for all.
- Can even sell off-plan properties in an easier way
Off-plan properties are harder to sell because the end-users may not believe in the property’s authenticity and actual designs just by looking at their blueprints. However, with virtual reality clients can experience the full view and designs of the property even before it has started to build in reality.
The buyers can even choose their favorite color, furnishings, floor textures, etc., which will also reduce their future costs of interior designing.
- Mobile Head-Mounted Displays take the game a notch higher
With a built-in gyroscope, a smartphone can display VR. This can either be a single device or also an HMD. An HMD, Head-Mounted Display, is certainly much more immersive.
By blocking the real world, the client can enjoy the experiences of videos and panoramic stills. With the 3D stimulation that happens when the user tilts or moves away from the viewpoint, the whole process becomes an adventure in itself.
There is absolutely no denying that digital technology has brought a transformation in the way architecture is perceived, designed, and delivered. Consolidating information, combining it with a 3D representation, illustrating wider impacts, etc has all been made possible through various computer applications. There has not just been a massive decrease in the effort, cost, and time that is put in, but thanks to the endless advantages of virtual reality for architects, VR has been happily embraced by many.
Considered to be constantly developing, the architecture industry demands extremely unique and creative design solutions on a regular basis. Breaking the mold and setting, innovative trends is the aim for every architect, be it an established brand or a budding freelance architect. Designers, architects, and end-users have been brought together in a never-before manner. In most cases, virtual reality has replaced the existing marketing strategies for many architects and architectural firms, and to the remaining, it is offering a plethora of growth opportunities.