The Reality of Virtual Reality in Architecture

Strap on your HMD (that means Head Mounted Display, for the uninitiated) and prepare to walk into the future of architecture!

With 2015 being the year of the early adopter in the consumer Virtual Reality (VR) space and the recent buzz around the Virtual Reality for Architecture presentation at this year’s SXSW Interactive, it is hard to deny Virtual Reality will soon be making it’s mark in the world of architecture and design. For many, it is too early in the game to have a deep understanding of precisely how Virtual Reality technology will affect change within the industry, but for others, this early stage has become an exciting proving ground for what may become common practice in the not to distant future.

Virtual Reality for Architecture at SXSW Interactive

Virtual Reality for Architecture at SXSW Interactive

Changing the Client Experience

For clients, the Virtual Reality revolution in architecture can offer a whole new experience when working with designers on a project. Instead of having to rely on rendered models projected on a flat screen, a client can put on their HMD and experience a space first hand before it is built. Firms that are already putting Virtual Reality tools to use in this way are discovering that clients are able to make more informed decisions as a result of experiencing a design in a VR setting.

Emphasizing Empathetic Design

Understanding the needs of the client is a critical part of creating effective design strategies. Using Virtual Reality, architects can explore whether certain elements of a design enhance or detract from a space in a more meaningful way during the design process. Having a more informed understanding of how design decisions will relate to the everyday needs and interactions of the client gives the design team a golden opportunity to create increased value for the finished product.

Revolutionizing Workflow

Workflow is another area where Virtual Reality stands to make an impact on architecture and design. Architects will soon have the ability to validate design decisions using virtual environments from their desktop. Augmented Reality applications are already giving contractors the on-site ability to experience the relationship between the project site and the design at full scale using a mobile device. Even more exciting than that, is the prospect that gestural control technology may soon offer architects the chance to leave their mouse and keyboard behind in favor of manipulating a project with their hands.

On The Horizon

Despite the cost challenges and the technological gaps that come along with the early adoption of new technologies, several firms have already incorporated Virtual Reality tools into their process with an eye on expanding that role in the future. These firms tout the positive effects that incorporating VR technology has had on their interactions with clients and the new opportunities it provides them to address design problems earlier in the process. It isn’t far-fetched to believe that soon it will be common place to see rooms set aside at design firms for the sole purpose of giving the designer and clients alike, the ability to experience projects via a Virtual Reality walk-through.

Where do you see Virtual Reality having it’s greatest impact on architecture in the future? We want to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments.

Learn more about Virtual Reality technologies that already exist for the architecture market HERE.