Virtual Reality Reveals the Shape of Things to Come for Architects, Designers and Clients

3-D animation for the visualization of architecture and interior design concepts is not a brand-new methodology. Utilization of these essential communication tools has irrefutably become an expected and integral part of the design process for clients across all disciplines and sectors.

In fact, the industry is on the cusp of a fantastic leap into fully immersive 3-D visualization and its potential to architects, designers and clients is nothing short of spectacular. Technologies are dramatically evolving, revolutionizing the overall design process by allowing solutions to be more thoroughly and instantly communicated. Emerging trends in real-time interfacing, virtual reality, enhanced user control and the seamless integration of these technologies are among the most groundbreaking advancements currently being implemented.

Until recently, design visualization was delivered as a (still) rendered image, or viewed by the end user as a fixed video with a predetermined camera path and overall content set by the artist. Now, real-time, interactive deliverables are the preferred solution, allowing the viewer to shift from “observer” to “participant” status. Experiencing the design through a virtual environment, the viewer can walk through the space at their own pace, open doors and windows, and look in any direction they prefer. They can alter the character of that space by choosing time of day, settings on the light fixtures and sun shades, and even explore alternate finish options provided by the designer. The sensory experience is completed with interactive controls on electronic devices providing video and acoustic content within the space.

Virtual technology is changing and expanding the design process itself, opening up creativity to new levels of interaction, while accelerating exploration and communication. Like all great shifts in technology, this transition requires substantial computing power. A wide array of programs and devices have been brought to market to create the design, communicate the process live, and guarantee its user-control character is accessible to a wide variety of participants on their various devices.

The outcome of this new ability to view the design at anytime, anywhere and on any device is changing our current perception of a typical design meeting. Now, from various locations, clients, designers, architects, contractors and consultants go “into” the simulated project together, and walk to a selected area to discuss its overall design vision, performance goals, budget, challenges, constructability, functionality, coordination and scheduling, all while standing “in” the project.

Ultimately, all of these advancements enhance the understanding of the proposed design for the client by improving its development process. All stakeholders are offered an experiential detailed representation, made possible by virtual visualization that enables more effective communication with staff, team members and guests. 3-D animation for the visualization of architecture and interior concepts has long been an important tool in the architectural process; but the sophistication it has achieved through technology is clarifying design intent, improving marketability, and guaranteeing the realization of their project vision like never before.