Building Castles In The Virtual Sky

3D Design: Safety, Savings and Streamlined Processes for Architecture and Construction

Imagine meeting clients to discuss your design for a project in the Hamptons. You greet them with a cool glass of Cava as they sink into the expensive seat in your office. Rather than spreading out sheets of flat paper, or displaying complex models on your computer screen, just let them put on a headset and walk around the house. They stop by the pool and the fountain, enjoying the view over the neighborhood, then stride across the hardwood floors and glance upwards to view the soft lights. They return again and again to the living room, to make sure they’re happy with its dimensions. They might raise a few concerns about the size of the bathrooms, and you test enlarging them – that takes just a moment. They finally decide on a size they’re satisfied with. They take off the VR headset, satisfied with the progress you’ve made together.

The Rapid Spread of 3D

VR has made rapid advances, and with them came price drops which makes 3D tech affordable to professionals like architects and constructors. A survey by CGarchitect showed that in 2017, 70% of the architects questioned either used VR/AR/MR in their production or were planning to use it, and that architectural visualization users are concentrated in Europe (40%) and the US (21%).
The benefits of 3D floor design and 3D tech for architects and constructors are immense and are applicable for all stages of construction – from the planning process and project collaboration to managing the site and workers, as well as marketing the project to prospective clients or investors.

VR can help streamline communication all the way from the drawing board to the construction site and the marketing team

A New Dimension of Savings

VR has already saved millions of dollars on construction by discovering misalignments in the foundations of buildings early in the planning stage. By being able to visualize the project even before the building process has begun, VR also enables professionals to optimize their planning by checking out various features and selecting the most appropriate options to minimize waste and increase efficiency and profitability. This prevented rework due to mishaps and speeded up the planning. Furthermore, designing a building involves a high degree of collaboration and requires accurate communication. VR enables conveying every aspect of the building in the clearest way possible. When all parties involved in the construction as well as the prospective users of the facility know exactly how it will look in the end, less mistakes and errors are bound to happen, saving lots of time and money on possible delays.

3D Work Process

Working with 3D design tools is becoming increasingly popular with architects and contractors, giving professionals an innovative way of truly understanding a space. VR offers a true experience of a building, while standard digital or paper renderings are still flat, and 3D models are expensive to build. With 3D floor design, designers can walk through a building and make sure all is accessible, convenient, spacious enough yet not wasteful.

Immersive Analytics

VR can also be utilized for a new data visualization field – immersive analytics, which enables the overlay of environmental data, such as the reception of light at different times of the day or year, directly on the design. It can even be used for visualizing human behavior. Companies can create simulations to explore movement flow, bottlenecks and convenience of navigation within the building or space and test emergency routes.

3D in Service of People with Disabilities

Innovative VR tools can help architects understand how people with different disabilities, such as Dementia, experience the world, and enable professionals to design better environments for these populations. By utilizing VR in such ways, architects can literally look through other people’s eyes, understand their struggles and needs, and create accommodations and spaces that cater to them directly. While failed expectations and misunderstandings could occur with any customer, in the case of people with disabilities, these mistakes can take a higher toll than just the price tag of rework – both mentally and physically. The ability to test these environments in advance, while keeping an open communication line with clients and prospective users, can reduce surprises and eliminate obstacles before they are born into the real world.

Accurate Scale, Greater Detail

VR provides an accurate sense of scale, depth and space both for the construction team and potential buyers

VR provides an accurate sense of scale, depth and space, which are hard for the naked eye to perceive. This can give a much clearer idea of whether the hallway width and height are adequate or whether the living room is spacious enough.

VR also offers varying levels of detail (LOD), from a basic level of a VR floorplan, which provides an architect with a good sense of space and proportions, to a VR experience with a higher level of detail that could show minute carvings, with lighting, furniture and wallpaper to create a truly immersive experience. The different levels of VR could be utilized according to the project’s needs and different levels of progress.

Augmented Reality in Construction

VR isn’t the alone in this game, as AR finds its way into construction sites. For example, Daqri Smart Glasses, an augmented reality wearable technology device, was designed for the industrial field, to improve safety. A construction worker can wear the glasses, which transfer visual information in real time from the worker’s location. The Daqri helmet can issue guidelines that help teams stay updated and on track, helping mangers view the site and objects from a worker’s point of view. It can increase awareness to safety issues and conditions, and transfer information to a central database for use by the entire team, helping prevent hazards.

An Innovative Marketing Tool

VR is a priceless marketing tool. It opens up preconstruction projects for sale right from the design stage, with a strong marketing front, to clients worldwide. A client from Mississippi can easily visit a house in New York. Having clients stroll around their prospective house, choosing from various options in real time, experiencing the view, engaging with the property and forming a connection is extremely valuable. Also, the VR tour is generally interactive – a person can click a hotspot and move on to exploring additional locations in the tour, increasing engagement.

VR – the Easy Way

Architects are busy professionals who don’t always have time to experiment with gadgets. However, nowadays using VR architecture tools can be astonishingly easy. With some online VR architecture tools, you can just export your floorplan from your favorite CAD software, and in moments, it will be transformed into a VR tour. You can quickly add hotspots, titles and more, with no need for technical knowledge or VR expertise. There’s no learning curve here.
It’s clear that the architecture and construction market will be adopting VR tools in a big way. So, anyone who wants to stay relevant in the coming years needs to at least start experimenting with these technologies now.
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