Virtual reality (VR) in architecture
Virtual reality (VR) has penetrated into every sector imaginable. Architecture being no exception. The introduction of new technologies, such as Oculus Rift, Google Glass and Microsoft’s Hololens, not only make these virtual experiences possible, but also are quickly becoming the next wave of how people will experience their daily lives.
Oculus Rift, a head-mounted display (HMD) combines head-tracking sensors with stereoscopic 3D rendering techniques create an immersive virtual reality experience. Alternatively, Google Glass, a face-mounted computer (smart eyewear), has the capability to display high-resolution information, creating an augmented reality. The Hololens, a combination of Oculus Rift and Google Glass, is a stand-alone HMD capable of projecting computer-generated objects into the user’s real-world environment.
With these devices, architecture firms are now able to use VR as a pre-visualization tool for walk-throughs of spaces to ensure their layouts feel natural and there is proportionate scaling of everything from the height of a kitchen island to the size of a bedroom window. As a result, architects can create virtual, real-scale building plan models that clients can virtually experience, enabling them to understand how a space will look and feel, before constructing it. This experience also enables clients to ask questions or make suggestions based on their experience moving through the exteriors and interiors of the space they will inhabit.
That’s not all. Designers can move a wall and raise a ceiling to achieve their desired effect, all in real time. No need to spend countless hours doing renderings of a design that changes the minute the images are complete. Moreover, you will no longer need a series of still images to understand the space; simply put on the goggles and move your head left or right, up or down. The ability to experience the space while you build offers a level of understanding that surpasses 2D and 3D renderings. It gives you a sense of scale in comparison with yourself that a 3D model cannot.
This ability to virtually experience a particular space is very attractive. The simple yet elegant technology gives the viewer free will. You can choose where to look, and stop where you like. You are in the space and you yourself are ‘to scale’. Needless to say that the experience is nothing short of wonderful!