How do we use Virtual Reality in Architecture?

Virtual Reality is quickly becoming more than a tool for immersive video games. Although, as it goes, some of the games on today’s market need playing to be believed! But as a tool for industry, it is also opening up a world of possibilities for professionals. It provides a better way of working, one that makes the entire process easier for everybody involved. With that in mind, it’s unsurprising that Virtual Reality in Architecture is something that we’re very much on board with!

At Arco2, we use VR to develop concepts, test ideas and to make convincing, life-like models to convey our proposals. We also use it during the planning and construction process, and to develop interior design. It has transformed the way in which we work, greatly improving our clients’ experience. And the best thing about VR? The sun is always shining!

Man using VR headset

We have been using VR as part of our process for four years, and it’s amazing the difference it’s made. We are, for example, better able to test our 3D designs in VR. In it, we can transport ourselves into the finished building before work has even begun. Through it, we can experience the light, shadows, space, volume, textures and views of a specific site and building. This allows us to make real-time adjustments within the platform. We can also check our design intentions, especially for neighbours to a site we’re working on. It’s useful to be able to show them how the proposal may impact them and how we’ve mitigated their concerns. These could be anything from overlooking and overshadowing, to impeding their views.

Virtual Reality in Interior Design

At Arco2 we also offer a full interior design service, for which VR is an integral part of the process. On a recent replacement family home near Falmouth, our clients were living and working abroad. This made meetings more tricky and relied upon Zoom. The client decided to employ us to undertake the full interior design, to save time on-site and minimise their input later in the process. They also made the bold decision to buy the same VR equipment, software and computer as we have in our office! This meant that they could immerse themselves remotely within the design process.

We designed everything in VR down to the last detail, and because they were able to see it in VR, they knew everything they were getting before work began. Being able to experience an unbuilt dwelling like this means you’ll be left with no surprises. This, we believe, makes it an invaluable tool for architects working with clients whose lifestyles don’t allow much spare time.

Environmental benefits of Virtual Reality in architecture

Historically, the only way to understand a building in three dimensions was to build a 3D model. This time-consuming skill is rarely used nowadays, which isn’t a bad thing. Whilst it is a skill, it is also labour, energy and material intensive. At Arco2, we used to love building cardboard models and maquettes! However, computer-generated models offer so much more to clients, councils, neighbours and communities. They make it far easier to convey the design via a 3D model, and so the change is really a no-brainer. Having said that, physical models do still have a place, which is why we have invested in a state of the art 3D printer. But what sets it apart is that it prints using corn, meaning the models are biodegradable.

Black and white image of building under construction

Does Virtual Reality make working with tradespeople more effective?

The simple answer is yes. We often give consultants, planning officers and contractors the full VR experience. This enables them to completely understand the design intention and what they are ultimately going to build. Getting started and bringing a project to life is far easier when you’ve ‘been inside’ it already! What’s more, it’s much easier to ‘get excited’ about a project when you know what it is you’re working towards.

The Future of Virtual Reality in Architecture

We believe that VR, combined with 3D printing and CNC technology will be the future of construction. But it won’t happen overnight, especially in Cornwall. The construction industry here moves slowly and it can take time for technologies to filter down to this part of the country. In fact, there are still architects drawing everything by hand on a drawing board!

 We at Arco2 are very forward thinking, embracing change and capitalising on the technologies available to us. New systems and processes can be scary. But we are determined to use the latest innovations, not only to our own advantage, but to our clients’, too.

 If you’re looking for an architect to help bring the vision in your mind’s eye to life, we can help. With the help of VR, we will give you the confidence that it is exactly the way you want it before work has even begun. Click here to get in touch.