AR in Architecture: An End to Architecture As We Know It?

Augmented reality may be in its very early days at present, but there are several schools of thought about where the technology is headed. We’re going to take a look at AR in architecture, and how the tech will impact the way architects work. But let’s begin by referencing this, now-famous video, which was doing the rounds in 2016, and exemplifies the worst-case scenario:


Hyper-reality to this level may be extreme, but there’s certainly a distinct possibility that mass AR adoption could lead us a bit further along the dystopia spectrum, if the social solipsism of social media and the ‘fake news’ fiasco is anything to go by.

The Rise of the Hardware

As augmented reality technologies develop, we are beginning to see a future of augmented reality headsets, spectacles, and even contact lenses. Google Glass may have failed the first time round, but now other tech giants like Microsoft, HTC, and maybe even Apple, are picking up the AR baton and running with it.

Augmenting Our Environment

If we are walking around with augmented reality glasses, or lenses even, with digital overlays across selective items in our field of vision, advertising products, directing us where we are going, monitoring and displaying our health signals, what of the buildings around us?

If mass adoption of AR is coming, what does that mean for architecture?

Could we also use our AR glasses to overlay a preferred facade over our surroundings? If so, then architects might not even need to bother with elaborate features. They could simply programme a virtual display rather than spending money on creating any features at all. Every piece of architecture could just be a blank slate upon which a virtual reality is projected.

This is the gist of a recent article published on Dezeen by Owen Hopkins. But how accurate are Hopkins’ predictions?

There is a certain level of unease in the creative industries at the moment. Writers are seeing EEG devices and artificial intelligence impinging on the creation of engaging narratives. Artists are finding themselves working alongside algorithms. AI is also creating music. These developments may be concerning to those of us who believe that creativity is part of the human spirit and shouldn’t be replicated by machines. But, in truth, there isn’t really any competition.

Computer algorithms, at least at present, are working for humans, in cooperation. And when it comes to AR in architecture, there is no reason to believe that it would not be the same. In fact, working alongside technology may allow us to slash the boundaries of creativity and usher in a new era for creative expression.

Architects can continue to create unique and innovative architecture as they do now. If, however, they wish to add another dimension to their creation, then augmented reality overlays can allow them to do so.

We have already reported this week on the creation of a virtual reality gallery for showcasing architectural designs beyond the real world. And as the line between the real and the virtual becomes increasingly blurred, architects must adapt their practices, and – indeed – their imaginations, to meet the challenge.

If you would like to learn more about the sectors within the Property industry that will benefit most from augmented and virtual reality technologies, and the ways in which this will happen, then be sure to download our whitepaper ‘How Virtual and Augmented Reality Will Revolutionise House Building and Property Marketing’.

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