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Virtual Reality in Architecture and Design

The emergence of virtual reality applications for architecture has been one of the big stories of the past few years — in the future, we’ve been told, VR will become an integral part not just of presenting a project, but of the design process as well.

For many design-led industries, the biggest challenge is often convincing the client that the finished article will look just like — or better than — the 2D or 3D representation.

No matter how talented the designer, it can take a leap of faith and a vivid imagination from the client to get them on board with, and excited by, a design idea.

Architecture is no different and that’s why virtual reality for architecture and design could help transform this industry.

In this article, we will look at the possibilities attached to this most exciting of new technologies, the benefits to designing in a virtual world (for both the designer and the client).

The Benefits Of Vr For Architecture

There are many benefits attached to moving architectural practices into a virtual environment. We’ve outlined a few of the main ones below.

Low Start-Up Costs

When considering introducing virtual reality technology into an architectural practice, the start-up costs are relatively low.

For internal presentations and walkthroughs, higher-end hardware such as the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive would be beneficial — the headsets cost around $600-$800 per unit. Additional computer hardware would be required too, but all-in-all a VR setup can be put together for under $8,000. And for most architects, a single client won off the back of implementing a suite of virtual reality tools will mean it’s money well spent.

Avoid Rounds of Revisions

Placing a client into a virtual and detailed representation of a building design will, in theory, make the feedback process that little bit more straightforward.

They can clearly see what they like and dislike about certain elements of the a design better than perhaps they would if viewing a floor plan or 3D model. And this means less time spent going back and forth revising designs and awaiting further feedback.

Real-time changes could also take place in the virtual world, allowing clients to get a sense for specific aesthetic features, such as wall colour, lighting, and even furniture.

Replicate Real-World Scenarios

Another important aspect of architectural design is understanding how an individual manages to navigate his or her way around a building.

By utilizing virtual reality for architecture design, it becomes possible to test the routes to emergency exits, for example.

While typically this has been tested via computer models, VR will allow for real people to react to real-world scenarios, helping architects to better understand just how safe their design really is, and what improvements are perhaps required.

Gain A Competitive Edge

If an architect is pitching for work, and it’s their turn to present to a prospective client, which of these do you think will win the day?

  • A computer-built 3D rendering?

  • Or a fully immersive virtual reality experience?

We would wager the latter would come out on top, provided the design was up-to-scratch. This is because a potential client will be won or lost on their ability to truly visualize the finished design. What better way to help them do that than present them with a to-scale detailed representation that they can walk around and interact with?Staying ahead of the technological curve and becoming an industry leader is therefore crucially important for architects when it comes to securing more lucrative business.

Finally, taking VR for architecture to the next level, it allows its users to not only explore inside virtual structures, interacting with them in the process, but they can also create immersive urban designs.Users will also be able to use existing 3D renderings created during the design process to quickly and efficiently build out VR versions of upcoming projects that can then be explored using a smartphone device

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