For architects, it can be a challenge to walk clients through a project, especially if it is still being worked on. In order to present a project, architects must resort to all sorts of tools such as physical models, paper and digital renderings. That’s not even including field visits that can be time consuming and stressful for both the architect and the client (usually leading to ornery and irate clients, which is an absolute nightmare.)
The solution in this case is something that has only recently matured as a technology and as a commercially viable product: Virtual Reality.
With virtual reality, a client can see a project in its finished state even if the materials have not even arrived yet. Even better is the fact that he can personally interact and get a feel for the project, which is the biggest element missing from digital renderings on screen and paper. In fact, in terms of experiences, VR is actually better than visiting an on-site construction as VR provides a much more complete look, and depending on the software being used, would even allow adjustments on the fly so they could see how different permutations will affect the final state.
It’s Already Here
This is not a pipe dream or a preview of things to come. A number of companies have already started applying VR tech for architectural purposes. Autodesk, for instance, has already started collaborating with Microsoft in order to make 3D models created in their programs to be compatible with MS’ Hololens technology.
Even small startups like Visidraft, have joined the fray. With their iOS app, Visidraft gives project teams the ability to see virtual representations of their projects within a 3D CAD model of a space, using other tools such as AutoCard, Revit, or 3DS Max. And it’s completely free.
A Supplement, as Opposed to Replacement
One concern people have is whether the shift to VR will be disruptive, and will require architects to study yet another tool. Fortunately, Virtual Reality is never (and will never) be a replacement for CAD, BIM, or other standby paper plans. What it is is just a supplement, one that makes it easier to use existing tools and adds a whole new layer of interactivity and convenience. So for people worried over whether they have to adopt VR now, they do if they want to have yet another powerful tool under their belt, but it is not a requirement.
Land Plans to Instant Realities
VR, however, could play a bigger role if utilize the right way. For more critical construction projects such as roads, schools, buildings, railways, freeways and others. VR will allow experts to actually walk through the “finished” products and spots possible problems that will never be revealed by blueprints.
Just this week, Los Angeles announced its plan to start a billion-dollar project to build more trains and improve its routes for commuters. If it pushes through, the project will make a 25-mile commute that used to take two hours to close to one hour. Putting the whole thing in VR will allow all experts involved to see all the little details on what it wants to create, from the actual train aesthetics to engineering details.
Below is a map of what the railway system of LA may look like in 2040.
In VR, lets you see and interact with the actual train system and alter it on the fly. It lets you see beyond the land plan and into the actual city.