Virtual Reality

 

 

One of the greatest challenges in architectural design is achieving the ability to truly visualize space and buildings in the landscape. Some people can read plans, but most have a hard time fully understanding exactly how any given space would look in real life. Computer visualizations and artists’ impressions are incredibly helpful, but too often people feel removed from the experience. The truth is, it’s very difficult to accurately imagine exactly what any given space will really look and feel like. Up until now that is...

Enter Oculus Rift.

At Millar Howard Workshop, we know that brand-new technology can have a massive impact on services like architecture. How? Last year, we had the opportunity to test an early version of Oculus Rift, and we’ve utilized it as both a tool and a toy ever since.

 

Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Millar Howard Workshop Architecture
Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Millar Howard Workshop Architects
Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Millar Howard Workshop Architecture
Oculus Rift

 

By taking this brand-new virtual reality technology and applying it to architecture, we’ve widened the boundaries of design. For the first time, we’ve been able to accurately render space in a way that we can explain to our clients. And explaining to our clients what a space will look like has never been simpler, because instead of pointing at plans, we can offer them a headset. They can see for themselves what it would be like to walk around in their space, explore their new home, or work in their office building.

The results have been incredible. Even the most technophobic skeptics light up after putting on the virtual reality device, thrilled with the chance to truly see what they’ve envisioned coming to life. Once our clients adjust to the virtual world, they find the words to discuss the space in ways they haven’t done before. “That windowsill needs to be higher,” one client may say, or “I love the way the light comes down the stairs,” or even, “The connect with the outside space is great.” It allows the architect to interpret what the client likes and doesn’t in real time.

Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Millar Howard Workshop Architecture
Oculus Rift
Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Millar Howard Workshop Architecture
Wine Cellar
Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Millar Howard Workshop Architecture
Oculus Rift
Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Millar Howard Workshop Architecture
Oculus Rift
Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Millar Howard Workshop Architecture
Wine Cellar Oculus Rift

In this way, the architect is able to tweak his or her designs to closer match the vision of the client. Within minutes, we’re back in the virtual world, reviewing the suggested changes and coming up with a new plan. What before took a lot of back-and-forth has become a simple matter of communication.

Initially, when we received the early version of Oculus Rift, we thought we would use it mainly for clients. Maybe, we thought, it could help them visualize our buildings and allow them to understand what we were proposing. But soon we began to use it as a design tool. It’s a whole new way to experience architecture. You can work on a design for weeks—drawing it, researching it, making changes to it—but the moment it goes into the Rift, and you see it, a whole new set of questions emerge. Suddenly, rather than thinking about the design, or modeling it, or even drawing it, you can be inside of it.

For the past twenty or so years, 3D computer modeling has evolved. The renderings have become more and more realistic, almost lifelike. However, viewing these images can become an abstract experience. Despite how real the image is, it often feels distant. It’s frustrating to have a whole design trapped behind a screen. For the first time, virtual reality makes it possible for clients and designers to think in the same terms and provide a true-to-life rendering of what the finished product will actually look like.

 

Oculus Rift.jpg
Oculus Rift
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Brynloe Oculus Rift

 

For video games and even films, virtual reality’s primary goal is to further remove the participant from the real world. Want to disappear into a computer-generated reality so complete that you feel as if you’re standing beside the hero, only truly leaving the game when you remove your headset? With Oculus Rift, that’ll be easy. Want to become literally engulfed by the power of a really excellent film? You already can; Oculus Rift has already released virtual reality movies, a whole new medium. But when the power of virtual reality is applied to architecture, it has the power to greatly increase our understanding and engagement with a physical reality. Imagine how incredible it would be to explore a building before a single brick has been laid! With this technology, we make it easier and simpler to interact with the plans for our clients’ buildings. It’s the reality—far much more than the virtual—that interests us here. That’s what Oculus Rift brings to architecture, and to Millar Howard Workshop.

 

Glazed Link.jpg
Glazed Link Oculus Rift
Brynloe01.jpg
Brynloe Oculus Rift

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