Pushing the Boundaries of Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality (VR) is developing rapidly and has found many uses in all kinds of fields. We have always embraced modern technology at Gaunt Francis Architects, so we invested in VR to create engaging and interactive presentations. As a result, we can remain at the forefront of innovation, whilst at the same time recognising there is value in all the distinctive design tools at our disposal.
Although the tools of architectural communication have constantly evolved, recent technological change has allowed the rapid development of 3D building modelling. The promise of “Virtual Reality” as an architectural design tool has been lingering for several decades. More as science fiction than fact, but it is the popularity of gaming that has driven software and hardware development forward to the point that the systems are now genuinely interactive and immersive.
An Opportunity for Architects
The development of VR presents a unique opportunity for Architects. It opens a completely new way of designing. Architects can experience spaces they are designing as the end users will experience them, as well as being able to make changes and test ideas in near real time. Something that simply can’t be done on traditional desktop software.
It is one thing to have a physical 3D model on your desk, or a digital model on your screen. But to be able to experience it at a real-world scale, walk through it, fly like a drone, or even change the time of day, enables designers to get to grips with the impact of their design decisions on the end user’s experience of the building. To be able to sketch something by hand or to test massing with a physical model are still important ways of working. VR doesn’t replace them but stands firmly alongside.
A New Way of Communicating
The most interesting possibility of VR is that it presents an entirely new way of communicating with our clients and other collaborators. One of the greatest challenges for Architects has always been communicating their designs to others. For the first time, a building’s end user can truly experience at the design stage what it will be like to be in those spaces. It puts the end user on a level playing field with the professional team in terms of understanding and interpreting design intentions.
Without VR, there are always ideas that are lost in translation purely because of the difficulties in representing a building in 2D. With VR, there is no translation needed. The client or end user is experiencing the building as it will be.
Using VR as a design aid is where architectural design will be heading soon. It is important for the team at Gaunt Francis Architects to be pioneers in this field. As the development of this innovative technology moves towards stable 4K and 8K resolutions, Virtual Reality will become an essential component in the design process and commonplace in architectural practices. Science fiction no longer.
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