Virtual Reality in Architecture: How is it Paramount in Disrupting Reality?


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Virtual Reality in architecture has the highest demand in the market. Being an immersive and interactive technology, it has contributed to many industries and reached a wider customer base. From automotive and healthcare to the retail sector and tourism industry, every sector has seen significant growth by incorporating VR into their operations. 

However, it is comparatively new in architecture. The architecture industry highly depends on visual communication and this technological advancement has the potential to transform the design and architectural processes. The integration of VR in architecture can certainly help the industry expand and grow further significantly.

Integration of Virtual Reality in Architecture

Virtual reality in architecture has a great history. Ivan Sutherland, an American computer scientist and pioneer of computer graphics, explored this new technology. Later in the late 80s, it evolved and developed Head-Mounted Displays (HMD) and goggles. The first-ever successful use of this technology was by the University of North Carolina between 1970 and 1985 where designers virtually modeled the Sitterman Hall, the headquarters of its computer science department. They wore headsets and used hand-controllers for watching and simulating the model. Moreover, NASA used the technology to train astronauts.

Over the years, virtual reality has helped develop new technologies to improve the architectural sector. As it helped create new methodologies, strategies, and tools, several companies such as Studio MB, DeForest Architects, and Marmon Mok (USA) went on to implement it. In fact, various companies worldwide, such as Utile (Canada), WHA Architecture (USA), DA-LA (Venezuela), Designhaaus (India), and Gashu Arquitectos (Argentina), have also incorporated VR technology in their architectural designs. 

Significance of Virtual Reality in Architecture

Virtual reality is one of the advanced technologies. It opens doors for new possibilities and inventions in the design and architecture industry. Here are the major reasons why companies are using virtual reality in architecture:

  1. Initial Analysis: At the initial stage of design, conceptual analysis can be done that includes studying the impact of light at different spaces at different times, views from different angles, and the proportion of structures. Further, the process involves evaluating design options, presenting proposals to clients, detecting errors, and correcting them.
  1. Less Revisions: Giving a complete virtual experience to clients ensures fewer corrections from clients. They completely understand the structure of the design and suggest exactly what they want. With the help of detailed suggestions and minute-level corrections, architects reconstruct the design while on-the-spot suggestions help make a big difference in designs.

Implementing VR in Architectural Practices

Virtual reality is a revolutionary technology and plays an important role in architecture. Implementing VR in architectural practices surely benefits clients, designers, architects, and companies. This whole process also includes advanced devices and proper planning. Here is how VR helps to develop better visual communication and a greater sense of realism.

  1. Understanding by clients: Most clients are unable to understand the architecture and relative designs. Therefore, architects provide clients with 3D models of the design and can explain much more in a detailed and accurate manner with the help of VR devices, also known as Head Mounted Displays (HMDs). Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, HTC Vive, Microsoft HoloLens, and Google Cardboard are some commonly used VR devices.
  1. Understanding by Colleagues: For an in-time and cost-effective approach, architects have started using VR to attend meetings and conferences virtually. Researchers have developed an online framework that helps architects in learning VR, role-playing, and social interaction in a virtual environment. Designs are finalized by taking opinions from colleagues in the architecture and design team.
  1. VR in Mobile: A new architecture solution augmented with mobile uses cardboard headsets and mobiles with which the architects can render stereo 360 images from the BIM. To experience VR on mobile, users just have to connect the VR headsets to the mobile and run the design presentation. Jaunt VR, Second Life, Sinespace, and AltspaceVR are some famous mobile applications.

How is Virtual Reality in Architecture Advantageous?

Bringing virtual reality into architecture is advantageous. Though the practical use is restricted by some technological and economical parameters, there are various advantages for the architecture industry.

  1. Recreating real-world experiences: VR allows people to interact with the virtual environment and experience the designs. It helps people understand the whole structure and manage to find out the ways in the real world even if there are no marks. The virtual environment allows people to find different routes in the design, emergency exits, and ways to different zones. This is beneficial for designers to decide whether the design is stable, secure, and user-friendly.
  1. Affordable Start: The pre-opening costs of introducing virtual reality in architecture are comparatively low. Therefore, investing in VR might turn out to be useful for presentations and technical aspects of architecture. The hardware required to implement this technology is available at relatively low costs. According to the study, HMDs of Oculus Rift or HTC Vive approximately cost $400 to $800.
  1. Time-Saving: The 2D model before VR required uploading and maintaining data consistently into a rebuilt 3D model. This scenario made it difficult when clients reported issues and changes in the design. VR technology reduces the rework in designs. As clients are allowed to interact with the virtual environment, little things can be changed according to the requirements of clients.
  1. A Tough Competition: Businesses in architecture need to do surveys about the market and competitors. Staying updated, adapted, creative, and ahead of all the competitors in terms of technology distinguishes the business. Presenting architectural designs with the help of VR definitely helps in winning the race of competitors.
  1. Easy Training Process: Training freshers and new employees in the architecture sector might turn difficult as the requirements are not conveyed properly. Virtual reality becomes a useful tool here that helps trainees to walk around the models and understand the design at the beginning of the project.

Worldwide Applications of Virtual Reality in Architecture

Currently, numerous companies have started incorporating virtual reality in architecture and offering customers visualize space and data in 3D. Most companies believe that the design and review process is a lengthy process that can be made shorter and more interesting with the help of VR. Here are some examples of companies changing the field of architecture.

  1. Ennead Architects, New York, USA

The VR displays are used in the design model of the Shanghai Museum (Planetarium in Shanghai). It shows where the building will have maximum light with the red blocks showing more light exposure.

  1. ZGF Architects, Portland, USA

ZGF Architects have used Iris on 50 various projects since 2015. This particular project allows designers to change the designs in real-time.

  1. Urbanist Architecture, London, UK

The project allows experiencing the development of the projects. One of its models, Urbanist 4D reality provides VR technology that allows distant interaction.

  1. Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Chicago, USA

The company is using VR in architecture for educating the residents. This includes informing them about the structure behind the walls and how it affects their lives.

  1. WHA Architecture, USA

The company has used VR in architecture to allow its clients to visualize the structure thoroughly. This VR project is built using Autodesk CAD and Vray software that allows corrections as well as reduces the cost.

Optimistic Use of Virtual Reality in Architecture

At first, the use of virtual reality in architecture was not as convincing as the real because of old software and technologies. Over time, it has enabled architects and designers to perform tasks that were previously impossible.

For the last three decades, the virtual reality sector has been growing and developing innovative and creative solutions. Manufacturers in the industry have seen the potential for developing solutions in VR. With the advancements in VR technology, architects and designers have involved themselves to shape the industry and the future marketplace.

Also Read: The 10 Most Profitable Franchises In The USA For 2022

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