Architecture increasingly uses virtual reality (VR) as a tool for planning, displaying, and experiencing structures and settings. Virtual reality (VR) enables architects and designers to build immersive 3D worlds that provide customers, stakeholders, and users with a more realistic and interesting experience of the design than conventional 2D drawings or physical models.
Benefits of virtual reality in architecture
- Improved visualisation: VR enables architects and designers to envision and experience their concepts in a way that is more akin to real life, which helps them spot possible design difficulties and decide more wisely.
- Better communication: Using virtual reality (VR), architects and designers can give clients, stakeholders, and users an engaging and interactive approach to learning and appreciating the design.
- Efficiency gain: By helping architects and designers to make modifications and alterations to the design in real time, VR may speed up the design process while saving time and money.
- Additional cooperation: VR enables more immersive and interactive design collaboration between architects, designers, and other stakeholders, facilitating the exchange of ideas and insights.
Among the particular uses of VR in buildings is
- Virtual walkthroughs: By using VR to create virtual tours of a place or building, viewers can experience and explore the design in a more lifelike manner.
- Review and assessment of the design: VR may be used to assess the design from several angles, including lighting, acoustics, and material choice, assisting architects and designers in maximising the design.
- Documentation and preservation: With VR, it is possible to develop in-depth 3D representations of historic structures and locations that may be used to record and save them for future generations. Virtual tours of the structure may also be made using VR, giving visitors a more realistic and interactive view of the historical monument.
- VR may be used to model the restoration and rebuilding of historic structures and places, allowing conservationists to test various scenarios and strategies before putting them into practice in the real world. Costs can be cut and the danger of harm to the existing building can be lessened as a result.
- Education and outreach: By developing immersive and interactive experiences that vividly depict the history and value of the location, VR may be utilised to inform the public about historic structures and sites. Younger generations, who might be more habituated to digital media, can also be engaged with VR.
One notable example is the 16th-century Gothic vaulted ceiling of the Sala delle Asse in the Sforza Castle in Milan, Italy. The restoration project was completed in 2019 using virtual reality technology to recreate the original design of the ceiling, which had been damaged over time. The virtual reality model allowed the restorers to explore the space and experiment with different solutions before implementing the restoration in the physical world.
- Creating a 3D model of the space: The restoration team used 3D laser scanners to create a highly accurate digital model of the Sala delle Asse. This allowed them to explore the space and study its details in great depth without being physically present.
- Recreating the original design: The original design of the Sala delle Asse included a stunning painted ceiling depicting intertwining branches and leaves. Over time, the ceiling had been damaged and painted over, so the restoration team used virtual reality technology to recreate the original design. They experimented with different solutions and visualised how the finished product would look before implementing the restoration in the physical world.
- Providing an immersive experience: In addition to being used as a tool for restoration, the virtual reality model of the Sala delle Asse was also made available to the public. Visitors to the castle could put on VR headsets and experience the space in a new way, allowing them to explore the history and beauty of the Sala delle Asse in a more immersive and interactive way.
Virtual reality technology has been used in the restoration of several historic buildings around the world. Here are a few examples:
Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris: After the devastating fire at Notre Dame in 2019, virtual reality technology was used to create a digital replica of the cathedral. This model will be used to help plan and execute the restoration of the building.
- Buckingham Palace in London: In 2019, virtual reality technology was used to create a 3D model of Buckingham Palace to aid in planning a major renovation project.
- The Colosseum in Rome: In 2018, a team of archaeologists used virtual reality technology to recreate the interior of the Colosseum, as it would have looked during its heyday. The model was used to study the structure and better understand its use.
The Palace of Westminster in London: In 2015, virtual reality technology was used to create a 3D model of the Palace of Westminster to aid in planning a major renovation project.
The Acropolis in Athens: Virtual reality technology has been used to create a digital reconstruction of the Acropolis, which was damaged during World War II. The model is used to study the site and plan for its restoration.
- Jimmy Rotella. 3 ways Multi-user VR experience will enhance the design work of the future. Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/888583/3-ways-multi-user-vr-will-enhance-the-design-work-of-the-future?ad_campaign=special-tag, [Accessed 9 March 2023]
- 4 reasons why you need to be using VR in architecture. Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/980345/4-reasons-why-you-need-to-be-using-vr-in-architecture?ad_campaign=special-tag [Accessed 9 March 2023]
- Leonardo da Vinci’s Sala delle Asse in Milan Italy. The Geographical Core. Com. Available at: https://www.thegeographicalcure.com/post/leonardo-sala-delle-asse-in-milan [Accessed 9 March 2023]