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Architecture and construction projects are often believed to be quite notorious. Moving timelines, constant changes, delays – all these cause expensive fixes that cannot be avoided. Therefore, the emergence of VR applications for construction and architecture has been one of the big stories of the past few years. VR in construction has reduced work, VR in architecture has kept timelines more on track by bringing designs to life before construction begins. Critical clashes are possible to be found quickly, which saves significant costs. In this article, we’ll talk about how VR for architects and VR in design are useful and how to implement them in your company.
VR in construction
From the very beginning of planned construction as a concept, people have always used tools that helped them model and visualize the future build. They used paper, then mock-ups, finally they invented CAD software and BIM (Building Information Modeling). Unfortunately, it turned out that these technologies are not enough. They don’t provide the full experience of a completed building. On top of that, there are many issues that are extremely hard to predict, and they usually pop out after the construction process has already started. This is how VR in construction has been brought to life. First, Virtual Reality was merged with BIM models to create a more immersive, interactive, and detailed virtual representation of a construction project. VR in construction turned out to be very cost-efficient as any party, at any stage of the construction process, can spot potential problems. You don’t have to implement alteration when the building is already erected so you avoid wasting time and money on fixes done at the site. Any important or pressing questions can be conveniently discussed regardless of where the team members are. They can meet virtually and interact. From a client’s perspective, VR in construction is a way to establish a better understanding between the client and the contractors. Misunderstandings or errors are almost eliminated. VR in design has become more refined and available, it’s now on almost every construction site as part of nearly every aspect of the construction process, no matter how small, like home repairs. Virtual Reality is also used to train more effectively than ever before. In such high-risk environments, quality training is of the utmost importance. VR training programs are being developed to make such training more accessible and safer for employees. It reduces the risk of injury and damage to the equipment while allowing for trial and error. Among the others, this results in reduced labor costs and fewer delays in a timeline. Virtual Reality in construction can be used in combination with intelligent construction machinery. This means that work can be conducted from inside the office – no need to keep several workers in the field. Finally, Virtual Reality makes it easy to share data and models across teams and immerse team members in the project as though they were actually there. The environment is exactly as though engaged in a walk-through. The collaboration is in real-time within a shared environment which improves timelines by facilitating quicker feedback.
VR in architecture
VR for architects has been rapidly changing industry in the past few years. With VR, both the architect and the client can fully immerse themselves into a virtual environment and close themselves off completely from the outside world. Virtual reality in design can be used at all stages of the process. In the early design phase, you can have an immersive experience in a non-photorealistic room, just to get a sense of spatial relationships and massing. The spatial understanding makes the client much more confident in the design and reduces time spent in meetings. The advanced VR software transforms the 2D plans into fully immersive environments, allowing clients to view floorplans as 3D designs prior to construction. From initial design mock-ups to the finishing touches, VR in architecture possesses the capability to really sell an idea better than any other medium. You can convince the client that a design works. Virtual reality for architects is an amazing opportunity to transport users into an interactive 3D environment and give them the opportunity to explore virtual floors, buildings and rooms. Users will be able to open and close virtual doors and windows, turn lights on and off and move objects around the room. When it comes to VR for architects, there is one more thing that should be brought up. In most design projects, there are multiple people asked for their input or various aspects of a building’s design. Usually, it is almost impossible to get all these people in a single room to discuss all design decisions. And VR in design makes it possible to gather in a virtually created environment and interact.
The most important benefits of VR in architecture and design
There are so many advantages of moving design and architectural practices into a virtual environment. The most important are the following.
- Costs are reduced – the technology and hardware are quite costly, however, once they’re purchased, the investment is starting to pay off.
- You avoid rounds of revisions – the feedback process turns to a bit more straightforward. Your clients can clearly see what they like and dislike about certain elements, so you spend less time going back and forth revising designs and awaiting further feedback. One might say, you fix the problem before it occurs. Problems discovered during construction can result in massive delays and VR offers improved accuracy and a high level of detail.
- You improve customer experience – a guided tour through a client’s new building before construction has ever begun speaks for itself.
- You gain a competitive edge – imagine you are a client. Will you choose a computer-built 3D rendering or a fully immersive VR experience? Staying ahead of the technological curve and becoming an industry leader sounds tempting, doesn’t it?
- Each party is on the same page – all decision-makers are up to date. There is no necessity to meet in person and discuss cases. Virtual meetings are even more efficient. You reduce on-site visits but still a constant eye is kept on a project. All team members (designers, architects, shareholders etc.) can benefit from visiting the scene from the safety of their homes. In case a problem comes up during construction, it can be resolved much more quickly. This is particularly crucial as larger organizations operate on a global scale.
- You can cut down on the cost spent on unnecessary supplies – you have a better picture of what exactly needs to be accomplished. It includes e.g. ordering materials.
- Better training and safety – in a virtual environment, operators can learn how to use their tools. They gain experience making quick decisions and overcoming unforeseen complications in real-time without physical danger.
How to implement VR for architects?
If you want to try out VR for architects and design, stick to the following tips:
- Decide what you need and why – you must know if you need VR as a design tool or more a marketing tool. Will you use virtual mock-ups? Do you need high-quality models? The required technology and level of investment may be different for each goal.
- Partner with the right company – there are many VR software companies that offer VR in construction services so choose wisely. A high-quality partner will help you choose the right hardware and software but doesn’t take more money than necessary.
- Consider what is best for your clients – when creating VR models, remember that user comfort is a big priority. Don’t make VR experiences too long – 5-10 minutes is the optimal length.
So far, Virtual Reality has really changed the game. It has enabled users to gain a deeper insight into how a design will look to scale. On top of that, it drastically lowered the cost of the construction and design processes. The extent to which VR in construction can support and develop the design process is boundless. The technology reduces risk, enhances training, and provides on-site assistance. Despite some limitations, Virtual Reality is absolutely here to stay.