The role of virtual reality in architecture, Everything you need to know

Posted On 2017-12-21

The role of virtual reality in architecture, Everything you need to know.

Communication is the key to any successful project and the breakdown of communication is very often the cause of failure. Thankfully, tech is getting better and better at helping us to communicate – we have Civil Site Design tools, AutoCAD and Autodesk Revit, which encourage collaboration and now we have virtual reality (VR). What better way to communicate how something is going to look than by simply showing the client in ‘real life’.

Here, we give you everything you need to know about the role of VR in architecture, answering your common questions and letting you know how you can keep up with the ever-changing industry of technology.

What’s the role of virtual reality in architecture?

Let’s start with the definition of VR: VR is the computer-generated simulation of a 3D environment. When wearing a headset or gloves fitted with sensors, a person can interact with this 3D environment in a physical way. While this is extremely popular and utilised in the gaming industry, it’s only just starting to hit the architect world.

This is surprising as VR is an exceptionally useful tool for two main reasons:

  1. It allows the designer or architect to visualise their design and make edits as they go.
  2. It allows the client to accurately visualise what the finished product will look like and make informed decisions.

Because of these two reasons, VR is changing the architecture industry, bringing many benefits along with it!

How is VR changing the architecture industry?

VR takes away the unexpected, whilst delighting users as it transforms what’s on paper to ‘reality’. From a client’s perspective, VR removes the unpleasant surprise of a building not matching up to what was imagined. Static images and 3D models can only convey so much and having a realistic feel of what you’ve briefed means the finished product will most certainly be everything you expected and more.

From an architect’s point of view, VR makes decision making efficient. A lot of time is spent by architects and designers convincing the client that a design model fits their brief and that the real thing will look like or better than the drawing or model. Now architectural firms are using VR to showcase their work to their clients, even creating specialised VR rooms in their offices. Once the build is in progress, it becomes easy and effective for multiple stakeholders to make well-informed decisions as they can literally walk around the design.

What are the benefits of VR in architecture?

We’ve touched on some of the main benefits above, but to be explicit in how VR can really benefit the architecture industry, here’s our list of the stand-out advantages:

  • VR gives architectural and design firms a competitive edge
  • It saves time on lengthy explanations and discussions on how something might look
  • It reduces the rounds of revisions as a client can make well-informed decisions
  • It brings a vision to life
  • It gives both the client and architect an in depth understanding of a space, even down to how natural light will affect the space at different times of day

What’s the difference between VR and AR?

These two buzzwords are bounced around the design sphere a lot and are often confused. We want to set the record straight: AR enhances reality, whereas VR creates it. AR layers computer-generated enhancements onto reality – think Pokemon Go – whereas VR creates a whole new environment, which a person can experience through a headset or gloves with sensors giving them the sensation that it’s reality.

How do you get VR set up?

There are a growing number of VR companies out there that are specialising in the architecture industry. Typically, they take your design file in 2D or 3D format and then ask what level of detail you require – details such as furnishings and natural light can be added. You then choose your headset and you’re all set to view your design in virtual reality.

While this is all very straightforward, it’s important to take into account the implications of presenting designs in VR format. For example, as an architectural firm, can you efficiently collate multiple client’s feedback? How will this affect your established workflows? Does your team need tailored training in tech? Our team of experts specialise in helping businesses adopt the right technology – get in touch.

The role of virtual reality in architecture, Everything you need to know

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