Revolutionary Tech: How Architects Can Use Virtual Reality

Architects are, alongside their mathematical and analytical skills, the creative minds behind the scenes of any new property development. Nonetheless, architectural design can be a sedentary, isolated role, with architects becoming less and less involved as the project progresses. Many architects, furthermore, scarcely spend a moment on a construction site. Augmented reality technology, however, is a promising new development across the Property industry, and may form a liberating movement in how architects work.

How Architects Can Use Virtual Reality to Engage With The Construction Site

The ability for architects to have a more engaged experience with a construction project will have several benefits. An architect, on seeing an architectural visualisation of their plans direct from the building site in augmented reality, will be able to identify ways in which their designs can be optimised to fit with the physical space. It will also allow them the opportunity to identify any issues with the design firsthand, improve those designs at an earlier stage, and thus reduce the need for lateral design revisions overall. This will also have a positive impact on the construction team, who may, therefore, have fewer amendments to make to the construction in progress.

“Traditionally in architecture, you have blueprints and scale models, and 3D modelling has been around in force for the last 20 years,” says Jeff Mottle, president and CEO of CGarchitect Digital Media Corp and publisher of CGarchitect. “VR plays into these traditional methods because the two fit closely together, more than the manufacturers actually realise.”

Virtual Reality and BIM for Architects

Architecture firms have long used prototype models of a building in order to visualise a property’s landscape in three dimensions, albeit on a scaled down version. These would need to be assembled, deconstructed, and reassembled repeatedly as the development grew. As BIM (Building Information Modelling) has been increasingly adopted, so has the capability for integration of 3D computer generated renderings with virtual and augmented reality.

“The architect can render stereo 360 panoramic images directly from the BIM software such as [Autodesk] Revit or using a visualization tool like 3ds Max with V-Ray, and publish the images to the web using third-party services like VRto.me or IrisVR Scope,” says Kim Baumann Larsen, an architect and the VR advisor for The Future Group.

How Architects Can Use Virtual Reality To Collaborate With The Project Team

Rather than being sidelined, architects may find the new technologies a window that increases their opportunities to collaborate with developers, construction teams, and any other parties involved with the project. They will be able to communicate with one another with a mutually cohesive view of the project, at every stage.

All parties will be able to log into a virtual space to view a holographic 3D model of the project, as avatars from their own location. Meetings through virtual reality, perhaps within a simulation of the finished project itself, will bring parties together from disparate locations, allowing them to collaborate in real time.

The Future Architect’s Virtual Desk

Back to the architect’s desk, where she is working on a design in her usual CAD software. She puts on a headset, and can walk through that design, make notes, then go back to the screen and amend her designs accordingly. Soon enough, she will be able to create the entire design in an immersive virtual environment, walking through as she goes.

BIM has had an incredible impact on property planning and architectural design. Now, with the rise of virtual and augmented reality technologies, further changes to the way architects work can be expected in the near future. It is an area that is particularly receptive to technological advancement, much more so than Construction. As such, as more sophisticated virtual and augmented reality technology evolves, we can expect to see architects engaging far more with the virtual world.

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