Virtual Reality in architecture – what are the possibilities?
One of the fields in which Virtual Reality is now being employed to achieve hitherto unprecedented results is architecture. Modern architects simply have to get on the Virtual Reality train in order to be competitive. People interested in the intersection of VR technology and architecture should definitely familiarize themselves with the benefits of the technology in this demanding field.
For the last twenty years, architecture has been steadily employing 3D models both as a way of presenting projects to the clients and a tool that helps them to visualize projects in order to work out their potential flaws and advantages. The rise of Virtual Reality fits this reality perfectly, as Virtual Reality might be used by architects at different stages of the design. Firstly, VR may used just to get the sense of the project's spatial relationships. Later, the model can be rendered with a higher level of detail so that more aspects can be elaborated upon. What is more, many companies are now offering architecture studios virtual architecture walkthrough services which enable them to present immersive models of proposed buildings as sale pitches.
With regards to using Virtual Technology in architecture, it is important to delineate the major differences between three technologies: VR itself as well as AR (Augmented Reality) and MR (Mixed Reality). In VR, the viewer's senses are transported to a fully three-dimensional imitation of reality, while Augmented Reality enables to see additional data and information animated over the real-world view. Finally, Mixed Reality is, as its name suggests, a combination of the two other technologies. It allows to overlay virtual objects onto the real world, which can be extremely useful with regards to communication between people involved with the project residing in different parts of the world - for instance, a designer and an architect can work together on the same virtual model despite being located in different parts of the world. Therefore, it seems that the technology might turn out to be extremely useful in the architectural projects; however, many companies might be reluctant to start employing it in earnest because of its rather extravagant price. However, we can hope that it will progressively become less expensive and thus more widely available. The top-shelf companies are already using it - for instance, it is a big element of Sitopoland's architectural visualization.