Virtual Reality and Architecture

What is Virtual Reality

VR is the simulation of a computer generated environment (space) where persons are able to interact and explore in a seemingly real way by using special electronic devices which range from simple headsets to large scale simulators. These devices utilize sensors as the basis for the simulation to become possible.

This technology is rapidly finding its place within the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry. The sensation of actually being able to move inside of a space that is unbuilt is extraordinary and is a powerful tool when it comes to communicating design intent with clients. Virtually Reality has also proven useful beyond the edges of the architect’s desk  and onto the project site.  3D renderings being a  two dimensional  capture of a three dimensional space are no longer the best communicators. The general contractor along with the rest of the building team can better visualize the complexities of the blue prints. The contractors may even find this clarity useful ahead of submitting tenders where possible. As we have seen VR can play an important role at all stages of the design through to the construction of the project, from evaluating design options with clients, to accessing potential risks and errors before breaking ground.

Some Headset Options

While there are a variety of headsets on the market such as the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, Google Daydream and Microsoft’s Hololens, goggles junior version called the Google cardboard remains one of the cheapest solutions to experience the virtual word.

Architects in the Caribbean region are slowly adding Virtual Reality to their work flow, and this may be for several reasons. There is still heavy reliance on 2d cad software at the center of their work flow, however the benefits of VR is usually maximized when a Building Information Modeling (BIM) software  is used to create the 3d model. Currently some of the most popular BIM software include  Graphisoft Archicad and Autodesk Revit.

It is evident that VR will continue to impact and advance the Architecture and construction industry and should be viewed as a useful project friendly tool, not to mention a literal eye opener for clients.