Virtual reality has long since been a fantasy in the minds of gamers and artists alike. The ability to explore a virtual world with limitless possibilities certainly has its appeal. But recently the architecture industry has been getting intimate with the technology, exploring new ways to approach the design process.
It’s no longer a dream. It’s here, and it’s fairly affordable. Of course, if you want a top notch experience with surround sound and amazing graphics, you might have to spend a bit. However, if, on the other hand, you are looking for an interactive and immersive experience that surpasses that of a standard screen, you can have it for no more than a few bucks.
As long as you’ve got a smart phone, you’re eligible for the ‘virtual’ experience. With Google Cardboard, as well as other smartphone add-ons, you can transform your phone into a virtual reality machine.
With unprecedented accessibility to the virtual realm, it opens the door to a world of opportunities. The architecture firm NBBJ have collaborated with the startup Visual Vocal to explore some of these opportunities.
One of the biggest challenges for the architect is taking feedback from clients and integrating it into a design. With so many layers of design - renderings, floor plans and models – making decisions concerning the whole that these amount to can be time consuming, especially with the amount of people involved in one project.
What would be a more effective way of clients experiencing design proposals would be a 3D platform that offered direct insight into designs. This was exactly the thinking behind the collaboration. You can make a beautiful physical model, but how do you get it to clients? Not only can the virtual model be more thoroughly explored from anywhere in the world, but multiple designs can be viewed consecutively.
Architects already design in 3D, so it’s only natural that their designs are viewed and explored in the same way.
The technology will allow space for a more cooperative design process. Stakeholders, as well as the public, will more readily be able to offer and implement their ideas. Ultimately this is reinventing the design process, making it more flexible and fluid, in an industry that is strives for innovation.
NBBJ will be the first architectural firm to use the platform, but it will be available to other companies by autumn.
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