3 CGI Technologies And Their Uses in Architecture

Though virtual reality technology has been around for many decades now, it’s only recently that it has become advanced enough for mass adoption. Whilst gaming has obviously been the first industry to embrace the new tech, virtual reality has, of course, had a massive impact on CGI technologies, particularly in the world of Architecture, and the Property industry as a whole.

Advances in mobile technology have allowed a vastly wider audience to experience virtual reality technology. However, the head mounted displays at the higher end of the spectrum offer CGI technologies which are affecting architectural visualisation on a grand scale.

CGI Technologies and Their Uptake in Architecture

A recent survey by CGArchitect has shown that the use of CGI technologies in architecture is most dominant in the European market, with 40% of total usage. The USA currently accounts for 21% of global architectural CGI usage.

The survey also found that 70% of all respondents currently use augmented, mixed, or virtual reality CGI technologies in architectural visualisation, or plan to do so in 2017.

There is a distinct difference between the different types of CGI technologies available. Augmented reality, mixed reality, and virtual reality each have their own unique features, and thus separate applications.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality, exemplified (for the consumer market) by Pokemon Go, instructional information or data is displayed on top of real world view. As such, it is currently most widely used on smartphone and tablet devices. It can be used in an instructional context, allowing a remote engineer, for example, to teach a mechanic how to repair something.

Mixed Reality

Mixed reality incorporates features of both virtual and augmented reality technologies. Virtual objects are overlaid onto a real world view. With mixed reality, individuals can meet in a virtual world, in which they can interact with a virtual building overlaid on a real site, from their separate real world locations, which can be pretty much anywhere in the world.

Virtual Reality

The most widely recognised of these three CGI technologies, virtual reality is a fully immersive virtual environment, constructed entirely from CGI. This can be as basic or as sophisticated as required for its purpose.

An example of the most sophisticated is, of course, property CGI virtual tours, where you can engage with a virtual walkthrough of a property. This can apply to ready-built properties, those in development, or even those where not a brick has yet been laid. It can range from simple constructions just to give an architect in the design stages a sense of space of the site, to hyperreal visualisations. In the latter, detail can be as intricately realised as the designer wishes. Sunlight beaming through windows, and birds singing in the trees outside, for example.

In the former, however, where spatial relationships can be visualised through CGI technologies, architects and clients alike have the opportunity to experience the unique qualities of the space ahead of time. This reduces the need for lateral design revisions for the architect, whilst endowing the client with more confidence in the project’s progression, thus saving time on meetings and negotiations.

Stereo 360 panoramic images can be rendered directly from BIM software or visualisation tools, and published to the web on a third party site. There, all relevant parties will be able to access the images in order to keep up to date with the progression of the project.

PC-based VR systems, such as the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, are the ideal hardware for those seeking to explore CGI architectural design through BIM software. There are huge opportunities for CGI technologies with design, and with CGI architecture in particular. Now is the time for architects and designers to start experimenting with CGI technologies, as they are set to be a major part of our industries in the future.


If you’d like to find out more about using CGI technologies for architecture, planning, property development, or real estate marketing, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for a chat. At VMI Studio, we are proud to be at the forefront of CGI technologies for the Property industry, and will be happy to talk you through how it all works, or to set you up with a demonstration of our work.