Virtual Reality: Architecture & Design: A GAME CHANGER Pt1

Architecture is an extremely promising use case for VR: it challenges a Virtual Reality: Architecture & Design 1massive industry ripe for disruption, it offers a clear value proposition, solves real pain points, and has evident business models. The moment you experience an architectural project in high end VR, just like Drake, you get it you get it. (Find out more about how technology is effecting the fireplace industry for the better... Click here)

But getting it is just the first, easy step :
As an architect exploring your own creation the effect is tenfold : you stop thinking about how incredible this tech is, how real  it feels etc… you’re immediately taking design decisions, exploring, inspecting and learning from your mistakes or genius strokes.

You’re not a weird guy wearing a ghost-in-the shell-like bulky headset on his head in an empty room trying out VR : you’re in your creation at full scale, literally walking through it, commenting and visualizing options in real time: making design decisions; before anything has been built yet. more than getting it, it’s about embracing VR as the medium that’ll change architecture forever. Thanks to cutting edge innovation initially limited to the gaming industry and which can now be applied to other fields thanks to VR, a legacy of cumbersome static pre-rendered 3D is about to be blown away and let architecture reach new amazing heights. When you’re used to waiting hours for a single view render and days for a non interactive walkthrough video, being able to walk in and interact with your creation in real time is true game changer. Real time 3D is finally coming to the architecture’s design workflow in immersive virtual reality.

Starting this year, everything changes : the VR value proposition in architecture is just too good to be true

  • Reduce design costs

  • Flatten access to creation and accelerate decisions

  • Shorten the time to market.

Virtual Reality: Architecture & Design 2Architecture is the first industry that’s going to radically change and demonstrate the game changing use case of VR as the next computing platform.

Let’s start with today, with VR in architecture you can :

  • Literally walk through your building

  • Get a genuine sense of scale, space distribution and proportion

  • Iterate & validate your creative choices with ease by testing and feeling for different material, style and space design options, in real time

  • Interact with the environment and objects, such as lights, doors or display more contextual information

  • Change POV : see your building from the perspective of a mouse, a human or God(zilla).

  • Generate an infinity of still images, in seconds (today, rendering a high resolution image take several hours and is typically charged a couple of thousand dollars by external studios. With VR, this cost goes down to zero, is entirely within the control of the project owner and takes seconds)

  • Create a 10min cinematic video walkthrough in minutes (instead of relying on costly rendering forms and incredibly long lead time that doesn't allow for any kind of flexibility , any kind of last minute change to the design  and requires  you to go through the whole rendering of the video again)

All of these, before anything has been Virtual Reality Architecture & Design 3built > as an architect, interior designer or prospective home buyer, this is the equivalent of coming from radio to the IMAX. How we’re applying these break-throughs within the Hospitality industry. Today, we’re working with a major hospitality group, helping them revolutionize their industry by completely turning the old and costly mock-up room model on its head. Example of a ‘basic’ hotel room, running in real time at 90fps, created as a use-case for our client.

What’s a mock up room?
Mock up rooms are the beta versions of Hotel rooms : it’s full scale rooms built to get a real feel of design, space distribution and material options prior to rolling out the rooms globally (in case of a hotel chain) or building a suite in an high end hotel. This where all the revisions and final decisions happen, typically, they’re built to try options such as :

  • carpet or wood flooring ? let’s see… ($)

  • open shower or bathtub ? or both ? ($$$)

  • Marble or Corian bathroom ? let’s try ($$$$$)

When you add up the estate, material, builders, contractors, plane tickets to fly in the stake holders, and their time, it’s starting to be a costly model. Especially for higher standing hotels, where the construction and revisions of the rooms can take up to more than 50 days and cost from hundreds of thousands of dollars up to a million.

But as real time 3D reaches a level of photo-realism and virtual reality headsets are now good enough to feel like being teleported in another place, the mock up room model is about to shift. It’s a revolution for the hospitality design process, and it for us and our client , it all started with 2 defining moments :

#1 The shower step: Notice the 15cm high shower step just above    every single person who explored this hotel bathroom raised their foot to step over this virtual shower step. It might seem like a small thing, but it’s was a big validation for us : our efforts of going for a photo-realistic feel and optimise the frame-rate to the max made the tech novelty and wires disappear : the immersion worked perfectly.

#2 A natural way to make design decision: The second one was when one of the directors, with no kind of 3D skills, put the VIVE on, and used the controller to change the flooring material : he didn’t comment on the tech, he simply walked around the room and immediately started to comment on the design and how the carpet was, in the end, a good choice for this room. He then went on and explored every single detail, judging the space and furniture placement, confirming his assumptions and choices. He took the headset off, looked at us with his bright eyes and a happy, but also pretty serious face, and asked : do you guys hire at the moment ? Still today, I’m not sure how much of a joke that was :)

This interactivity and instant visualisation already has some key implications for architecture and design :

  • Anyone can instantly see and impact design in real time, regardless of their 3D skills : it just works.

  • All the mistakes revisions and iteration can now happen in virtual reality, making the process faster and cheaper, removing the need for costly material or furniture change in mock up rooms.

Virtual Reality: Architecture & Design: A GAME CHANGER Pt1

Our client’s team and reactions have been amazing so far : the official headsets came out less than a month ago and the whole group is already moving into the future, embracing VR as a design and decision making tool. We can’t wait to show you what we’re working on together.

But that’s just what the tech enables us to do today : replicating what the old tech was used for and adding some value thanks to the benefit of real time 3D.

We’re just at the very beginning and that’s what is the most exciting

To understand how this new medium will radically change architecture in the future all you need is love and knowledge for video games, the only interactive medium we can get learning from to think of the evolution of architecture, which I’ve started to detail in the pt2 of this  series to feature next month.


Note from the editor.
For those of  you who have not had the opportunity of experiencing VR  first hand the whole experience  suspends belief..  You  are  aware  that the environment doesn’t  really exist  but this  belief becomes suspended as  you instinctively try to open doors, step up steps and turn on taps  that aren’t there.  Thanks guys for a memorable experience


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