02.26.2016Architecture, Research

Virtual Reality in Architecture Can Help Client's

Virtual reality (VR) is building momentum in the design and construction industry and is on the verge of changing the way architects communicate with their clients.

Two-dimensional CAD was the first step in revolutionizing the way architects composed their ideas into technical drawings. Drafting boards, T-squares, and pens were substituted with the computer, monitor and mouse. Next, 2D CAD gave way to 3D CAD systems allowing architects to visualize geometries in space.  As 2D and 3D CAD technologies have progressed over time another technology has been concurrently gaining ground. BIM (Building Information Modeling) allows architects to have the ability to go beyond simple CAD geometry and develop drawings that are intelligent and insightful.

If we have progressed in the past 3 decades from pen and paper to a complete digital representation of a building and its systems, what is the next revolution? The basic principle remains the communication of design, and virtual reality in architecture is the next step!

Google-Cardboard3 Picture of Google Cardboard | Image Credit: SPARC Design

Here is a video showing how to implement VR with a smart phone and Google Cardboard.


Video Credit: ArchDaily

At SPARC Design, we have been experimenting with translating our BIM workflow into a VR experience for our clients. Utilizing technology already available to architects, we are able to generate VR content that helps clients visualize a space or building well before construction begins.

The following are a few client benefits we see in generating VR content:

Virtual-Reality-Stereoscopic-ViewStereoscopic Rendering of Earth Fare Interior | Image Credit: SPARC Design

Currently we are implementing this technology with Earth Fare in order to demonstrate how customers may experience and interact with their stores. Through VR we can capture whether key decor components are visible to customers, understand if additional lighting is needed in certain areas, or recognize if the product/shelving layout needs to be adjusted to promote better flow. By doing all of this virtually, and well before construction begins, we can save owners money by preventing costly changes down the road.

Virtual reality is another revolutionary step in how architects provide value to the design process, and our clients. The day we put away our mouse pads and start building like the architect’s in the movie “Inception” may not be too far off.

Inception-Virtual-RealityInception | Image Courtesy of Warner Bros.

As the technology progresses, check back for more.

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