Architects today face several unique challenges as they navigate an incredibly complex industry. On top of the struggle to win new business, keep up with the constant evolution of software, and navigate usual workplace politics, architects in a post-recession world find it difficult to advocate for good design as developers seek cheap and fast solutions. The solution to many of these problems lies in virtual reality, which can be used across the entire project lifecycle and through various levels of detail in a project.
In the early stages of design, VR allows architects to understand the layout and feel of space within their design, leading to streamlined design development and more efficient internal communication from the get-go. But beyond internal use at their firm, VR enables an architect’s client to immediately understand how the project will look and feel, allowing the client to better interpret the space, catch mistakes, and articulate their design preferences prior to a project breaking ground. If utilized during a pitch, VR can help generate new business for a firm, and later on in the engagement can also save an architect and construction team countless hours of work and thousands (if not millions) of dollars preventing change orders and added construction fees.
Beyond generating new business for a firm and helping save money, VR helps architects communicate their vision with their clients more efficiently and accurately. While architects have spent years putting their ideas onto paper, the resulting models and blueprints don’t always translate as a “space” to the client, which can lead to misunderstandings and dissatisfaction. VR immediately resolves this and helps build a more trusting relationship between architect and client throughout the entire project lifecycle. This is critical in the post-recession economy, where repeat clients are critical to the financial success of a firm.
In the future, the release of multi-user VR capabilities and the inevitable increase in overall VR usage/headset ownership will only increase the benefits outlined above. Multi-user VR will allow multiple individuals to walk through the same model together in virtual reality, linked by audio and their shared virtual experience.
From a financial perspective, multi-user VR will allow large firms with multiple offices to collaborate across large distances, reducing both internal travel time and the need to transport clients to multiple on-site meetings. These efficiencies not only save money, but save both the firm and the client’s time and energy. Multi-user VR also provides a new medium for architects to communicate and collaborate, widening the scope of conversations and creating better spaces. For instance, a healthcare architect could easily invite a physician or nurse into a hospital walkthrough with project stakeholders to point out potential improvements for the space.
Virtual reality has the potential to solve some of the greatest challenges the profession faces on a daily basis with clients and internal teams. VR is in its first release cycle so it’s still the early days of the technology, but the enterprise market is already discovering the value it can bring to established industries.