“Designing within virtual reality is the next step in computer aided design” said Ekke Piirisild of the London studio VRTISAN in May 2016.
2016 was tipped to be the year for Virtual Reality. The recent commercial release of Facebook’s Oculus Rift, Sony’s PlayStation VR, and HTC’s Vive VR, has made VR accessible to firms of all sizes. Foster & Partners are currently using them, as are Perkins & Will. U.S giants Gensler have set up a department entirely dedicated to VR.
VR tools offer an immersive experience of designs, and the AEC (Architecture, Engineering, Construction) industry are using them more widely. They could reduce the divide between the “design” and the client’s perception of that “design” before it is fully realised in physical form. They would also offer a solution for those wishing to operate internationally, and with emphasis on client interactivity.
Ty Hedfan kitchen Real (top) virtual (bottom)
Designer and 3D visualiser Olivier Demangel from 3dnation in 2014 said that he believes virtual architecture will be as convincing as the real thing in five years time. In 2011, he made a series of movies using plans, and photos of Ty Hedfan, a house in Wales designed by architects Featherstone Young.
Does it have to be absolutely photorealistic to be of use now? By offering us more tools to experience and communicate our designs in 3D, we can see the spatial impact of our designs, and make adjustments in real time.
“It could potentially save clients money, and reduce error not otherwise picked up using the standard Building information modelling (BIM) 3D modelling or 2D paper drawings,” says Revitso chief Executive Arman Gukasyan. San Francisco based Vizerra created their BIM product Revitso adding “gamification” and cloud solutions to provide a unified view, and it can be integrated with AutoCAD, Revit, and SketchUP.
If VR is the next logical step, how would BIM and VR complement each other? IrisVR provides software that can take BIM into VR in seconds. Likewise, Autodesk is working on Project Expo using the cloud to bring BIM models from Revit into Stingray who is offering a free 30 day trial. Unity for AEC also offers excellent visuals also compatible with CAD tools.
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