Virtual Reality in Architecture

Downtown Design

Virtual Reality in Architecture

Downtown Design speaks to Medy Nahravani, CEO of Design Haus Medy about the use of VR technology in all stages of design.

With over 233 projects completed, Design Haus Medy use a bespoke approach for each client, rich in intellectual rigour and creativity; to develop inspiring places with a powerful visual impact. The company's multi-disciplinary practice includes planning, programming, architecture, and interior design. Working alongside international partners and VVIP clients including the likes of Emaar, Emirates Leisure, Forbes Client List, the Royal Family, Sofitel Hotels & Resorts, uniBank, Star assurance, The Cake Bar, Burj Khalifa, Dubai Tourism, Topaz Energy and Marine and many singers and footballers to name but a few, each discipline is built and supported by specialists with over a decade of experience.

Medy 1

Medy Nahravani is a German Architect who has become internationally renowned for the design of prestigious private homes and the creation of stunning bespoke interior design concepts. Using chic design with contemporary furnishings his design ethos hinges on ‘less is more’. A self-confessed work addict, Medy has an insatiable desire for new innovative ideas regarding form, function and finishing. As a narrator he loves focusing on one story or one concept which finds itself in many forms and shapes, and therefore creates an environment of intimacy.

Downtown Design speaks to Medy about one of his interests- Architecture; and how virtual reality shapes its future.

Can you please explain how virtual reality complements architecture?

Today we find many well-known architectural offices and project developers adapting to VR presentation.  Projects are being launched and shown to the public in a completely different way. For example we can now step out of the 3D world and step into a virtual reality. Therefore in regards to architecture; the client can literally delve into an architectural project via virtual reality.

Medy 2

What are the advantages of VR to architects?

The initial main position of an architect is to perfectly visualize his ideas and then to make them as understandable as possible and convincing to the client.  VR offers the architect an innovative tool to present this idea from every angle.

What are the various possibilities you can achieve with VR?

At the moment VR is limited to the user’s visual and auditory senses, but in the close future it will also work on other senses like touch and smell. For example when designing a public park, we could place the client in the middle of some trees seeing the landscape, hearing birds, feeling a fresh air breeze and smelling fresh spring flowers. This technique allows architects to create a future reality and to build with confidence and a connection between client and project. Ultimately it offers a new way of seeing our world and soon also recording it.

Medy 3

We have seen VR widely being used during concept stage of a project, why is it not used across the other stages of design through to completion? Why is there a gap and how can that be bridged?

I would say architects are always a bit more experimental and brave in trying out new technology, but I strongly believe it will soon be adopted by contracting companies and builders also. We will then see the likes of engineers wearing smart glasses looking at the exact plans of how to execute wiring schemes or installations. Imagine regular builders wearing VR and seeing the finished installation, then all they have to do is construct following the Model. We would reduce so much time and mistakes. However, we have to mention at this point that VR is still in the early stages and quite costly. It also requires skilled staff to pre draw and build the models in 3D.  

Medy 4

What is the cost versus return on investment when it comes to VR?

You can actually buy a good VR for under 1000 AED and there are some free applications to upload the 360 renders. However, first you need to hire a professional 3D visualizer to build the 3D and use 360 degree high-end software like 3D max or Cinema 4D. This is where the real costs lie. Saying this so many big design companies have their own 3D department as adopting to VR tech is not an expensive exercise.

Do you believe there are possible limitations with VR in relation to architecture? If yes, what are they?

Every technology has its limitation, as for VR it is still in its early stages, so the boundaries are still not explored. However the merge of reality and virtual reality should be taken with a pinch of salt. Somebody who has the power to create virtual reality could also create a fake reality.    

Medy 5

Could you give us an example where VR has been used in projects and what the outcome of those projects were?

Maybe one of the success stories for VR in interior design is Starbucks in Japan. Starbucks has been using VR presentation since last year for the remodeling of their outlets. When presented to builders, operational staff and other divisions it creates a far better understanding and harmonic work flow during the project.    


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