Virtual reality uses a combination of technologies to place its users in a digitally created environment. Modern virtual reality typically refers to the use of a headset. The devices use image, sound and input tracking to react to the user’s movement and display images as though the person is physically interacting with their environment. VR is often used in gaming, but in recent years, has been used in the science industry as a means of explaining microscopic materials on a visual platform, and in the medical industry to train surgeons. The technology is also useful in architecture, providing the client with an innovative way to view the end building design at the beginning of the process.
An Immersive Experience
Rendered images allow architectural practices to provide their clients with a realistic image of their project. Photorealistic images have progressed significantly in recent years and can present 3D, furnished designs, allowing clients and architects to work collaboratively to feedback and develop ideas before a design is finalised.
Though rendered images provide a good level of insight into the building design and use of space, VR technology provides a more immersive experience, in which a building user can not only see the design but experience it. This allows architects to communicate their ideas as though they are showing clients a physical building, without a brick being laid.
The Planning Process
When investing in a project, virtual reality is an invaluable tool. Clients benefit from the ability to experience their building before the physical build begins, ensuring their expectations are met and they fully approve the design. For architects, the process is made simpler by the ability to create and communicate their vision.
The client does not have to form an understanding of the design through images, they simply move around the virtual space, allowing them to provide more informed feedback. It can be difficult to imagine the end result from still, 2D images, and therefore difficult for a client to be sure they are satisfied with the proposed design. VR eliminates communication issues. Equally, if a client has previously been happy with a design, but requests alterations when viewing the design through VR, the iterative process allows for changes to be made to ensure maximum client satisfaction. The technology provides a cost-effective way of validating designs.
VR has multiple applications, but for architecture provides an invaluable means of communicating design.