In the old days, the only way of presenting a design to a client was to draw it on paper. And in the really old days, this paper copy was your only copy. Digital technology has had the same effect on architecture that it has on other industries and sectors, but the way you view a design might be about to change in spectacular fashion.
A revolution is brewing in the form of augmented reality and interactive design, and it will fundamentally alter the way a design can be presented and appreciated. In this post, we take a little look at this game-changing tech.
Augmented reality isn’t a new technology, necessarily, but in the past it has been limited to design and tech firms. They’ve used it for large advertising projects that were as much about showing off the capabilities of AR as they were about an actual product. However, it has very interesting applications for architecture, as noted by experts at the University of Western Australia:
“Imagine walking inside a beautiful cathedral that exists only in virtual space or inspecting a 3D display home from every angle on a smartphone or digital tablet in the comfort of your home or office. Architectural students at The University of Western Australia are working on harnessing stunning new digital technology that will enable you to do just that – and the results may change the way we see the world. All you need to do is point a smartphone or tablet at a photograph or some text, and a 3D image will appear on your screen. Then by tilting or rotating your device the image moves so you can virtually walk around it or look inside.”
AR presents an opportunity for architects to test their designs and catch any bugs before the process goes any further. Small changes could be made quickly and efficiently, but the major bonus for architects in particular is being able to present designs as fully-fledged constructs. Clients, using a smartphone or tablet device will be able to walk around inside and see it for themselves. In the case of projects like extensions, AR will let clients see the extension attached to the side of their home before a single brick is laid.
One major example of AR being used by architects as a design aid was following the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. Using AR, they were able to see the city as it had been before the disaster, to better understand how to replace and rebuild the destroyed structures in the right place and in the right style, as they note here:
“CityViewAR is an “augmented reality” application designed by staff and students at Canterbury University’s human interface technology laboratory to give people a visual reminder of how the city used to look. Using an Android phone or an iPhone, people who download the free app are able to walk around the city and see life-sized virtual models of what buildings looked like before they were damaged and demolished. They can also access pictures and written information about the buildings.”
The future of AR in architecture looks very bright indeed.