Our office has been designing in 3D for several years now, and in the last 2-3 years, we’ve integrated the use of virtual reality and augmented reality to present our work. There has been a positive response from clients who now have the capability to visualize their projects long before the shovel hits the ground, and the tool has been useful in communicating construction details to the site. However, there are also some challenges associated with the technology.
VR & Augmented Reality Design Challenges
The possibility of seeing a project represented fully in 3D is very intoxicating. As a designer, it can also be exhausting. Digital models utilized for the purpose of representing a “photo-realistic” end product requires a level of resolution and detail that may not be explored in full at the earlier stages of a project; as a result, many design details are either fast-forwarded or simply painted with a broad brush. Without a thorough and thoughtful level of design resolution, one digital model looks no different than the next. Generic material libraries and furniture families are placed in a model simply to generate an image. The time dedicated to trying to achieve this imagery can often take away from or stifle the design process; trading speed for a true and thoughtful evaluation of materials and applications.
To fully express design intent, and to communicate it effectively to a client seeking a “photorealistic” 3D before committing to an idea, several hours go into the detailing, modelling and accurate rendering of materials and lighting. The design process is one that is dependent on a number of various influences; many of which cannot be resolved in a few clicks of a button.
3D Technology During Construction
On the flip side, however, we have used 3D visualization technology very effectively in the construction phase of a project. The visualization significantly cuts down on the red tape communicating a construction, it clearly outlines the expected results and identifies potential conflicts before they arise on site. Prior to utilizing 3D and VR/AR technologies, I always wished for the opportunity to have a second chance at each build – one in which I could make the mistakes and a second time around that would allow me to iron out the issues that turned out less than ideal. The tool of visualization gives us that opportunity. At our office, for projects of a certain scale, we build digital prototypes of the construction (ie. every stud, joist, duct, plumbing stack is modelled in place) to minimize site conflicts and questions.
There is no denying that the tools of 3D visualization, virtual reality and augmented reality are here for the long run. We see great value in using them in the later stages of a project, but early on, nothing is more powerful than a pen and a blank sheet of paper. The digital tools can become distractions that disguise poor design capabilities and must be used wisely to optimize their potential.
For more insights and ideas on your custom home build, have a read through our latest post “How To Incorporate Interior Lighting Design Into Your Home.”