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Virtual Reality & Architectural Design

Updated: Oct 25, 2020

Virtual Reality & Architecture


Summery

With the collaboration of new age and traditional drafting techniques, we are now able to create efficient and quicker changes to plans. Allowing clients to be emerged into the architectural experience through 3D visual communication, leading to more detailed and helpful feed back.


In the following will be discussed how the architectural practice has been affected and revolutionized:


  • Visual Representation,

  • Building Envelope.



Visual Representation

For most individuals it can be difficult to visualize a 2D floor plan into the realm of the finished project, although not as common 3D images can present similar challenges into understanding the space. It is the architects, designers job to clearly communicate that the client(s) can understand what the space will look like.


Understanding of the space/function can be achieved through a multiped of ways, being traditional methods, being a craftsman scale models, representing the topographic land scape in relation to the purposed structure, or can be achieved through virtual reality modeling.


Although a large majority will agree, a traditional physical model is more esthetically pleasing and possibly more effective at communication during early stages of the design process. It should be noted that these physical models are not always necessary, (depending on the client expectations / architects process). Especially when factoring the time of design and cost of materials.


Virtual/3D modeling is the more affordable and quicker option with similar out comes to traditional modeling methods. Clients benefit from the wide range of VR tools, being video, images and walk throughs. Gaining a sense of scale, space, functions and being able to choose specific materials throughout the architectural project. Allowing for prompt changes, further detailed and more accurate blueprints.


Virtual reality goes beyond interactivity to help clients fully understand the space and provides them with a more accurate representation of how the final out come of the project will look like. Although if only used by it self, may lead to the reduction of the needed creativity caused from the loss of the natural human experience that comes with the craftsmanship of more traditional methods.


In general, it is not always possible to complete both of these tasks due to limiting budgets and time restraints that both architects and designers experience. As 3D modeling is a less time consuming and often produces greater accuracy of visualization. Because of these attributes VR become the more popular option.


In theory it would be best to use both the traditional method of hand drafting and model making in combination with the current new age 3D modeling. Taking advantage of both the traditional human experience/ creativity and benefits of 3D communication. But due to the fast paced work environments, traditional methods are being phased out on more affordable projects, leading to the commodity productions, "BC box house".



Building Envelope


With the overall drive from both provincial, federal governments and clients, thermal efficiency testing of residential and commercial projects has become even more important in creating a more efficient and cleaner home. With higher R-Values and reduced air leakage in finished construction, electricity and natural gas consumption can be highly reduced, in theory resolving in less stress on the grid, lower operational costs and a smaller environmental impact long term.


To meet our governmental and clients goals, computer programming and 3D modeling software is the undoubted winner. Calculating thermal efficiency and home air leakage, estimating and reducing power consumption, (achieved by programs like Sefira). Advanced thermal engineer software is the simplest and most accurate method for creating high efficiency buildings, but its down fall is that it requires a specialist to operate and evaluate.


With the pros already stated of testing and improving thermal efficiency/ air leakage, I must state our recent historical issues in relation, "leaky condo crisis" . The leaky condo crisis occurred in British Columbia early 2000s and was caused from changes within the Building Code, Section 9 to improve the thermal efficiency of homes and "flawed aesthetic designs" (little to no roof overhangs). Building code at the time required a tighter air ceiled home, meaning little to no air flow, and the aesthetic design of the minimal roof overhang resulted in rain water becoming trapped within the wall and unable to dry from being water tight, resulting in damage within months after construction. Thus resulting to over $400 million were lost due to water damage, caused by the two major factors, "If it can not dry it will die".


Therefore moving forward from this tragedy we must remember good design practices in relations to the heavily regulated building codes. Building scientists, engineers and designers have created a solution "The Perfect Wall", but without integrity whilst in construction, strong building practices, skilled tradesmen and contractors this solution may result in the same problem as the leaky condo crisis.


Conclusion

In conclusion, with the collaboration of new age and traditional drafting techniques, we are now able to create efficient and quicker changes to plans. Allowing clients to be emerged into the architectural experience through 3D visual communication, leading to more detailed, helpful feed back and more efficient construction. But without integrity within our building practices our designs are only mere thought.



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