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Helping clients envision the future with augmented and virtual reality

Updated: Jul 27, 2022

According to research by Allied Market Research, the Building Information Modeling (BIM) market is projected to reach $15,892 million by 2027, and thus the use of digital content and the digitalization of assets management are strongly pushing any mid-sized to large project towards the use of 3D, not only for design, but also for visualization and building management. BIM allows a lot of information to live in a single source, that in turn allows for the creation of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

The shift in our industry to BIM makes a lot of sense; creating a virtual world that interacts with our physical world, is at the core of what architects do. I’ve been involved with VR since the first time I had a Nintendo remote controller in my hand. AR captivated not only me and my friends, but the world, with a mobile game called Pokémon Go. It was a lot of fun to play and a great way to get outside. You would turn on your phone’s camera and a Pokémon would appear; it could be on your couch or on the grass in front of you. It was a lot of fun capturing, and training Pokémon but I’m still upset to this day that battling wasn’t part of the game!


Fast forward many years, and my fascination for AR and VR continues to grow. Only now, I use it as part of my career. Often our clients have difficulty understanding how their design project will look. We use building information modeling (BIM) as a shared digital asset to contain the built assets of a project to facilitate design and construction. Software like Autodesk’s LIVE, IrisVR, and ArqVR have automated the conversion process from BIM to the virtual world, creating an interactive visualization of the project design. We are using AR to place our designs on site and scale it, in real time, so our clients can grab their phone or put on virtual goggles to better envision how the project will look once constructed.

With AR, our clients can virtually “see” the fence, the tree, the neighborhood (you get the idea) next to their new building. We can also have a view inside the building, allowing clients to get a real sense of what it will look and feel like from the user perspective. Both AR and VR are technologies we're very excited about and have incorporated into quite a few of our projects.

Due to extreme heat and brightness, images on the phone have been enhance for clarity. Images are from this site visit and direct exercise.

One recent example of how we’re using this includes a residential client of ours. She is a physical therapist and is well-respected in her field. To quote her, she “…struggles visualizing spaces.” More specifically, she wanted to understand what her living room was going to look like -- even though she had provided us with pictures and given us examples to inspire our design, she was curious if she could somehow experience the space before it was built. I decided to use VR; she walked in (virtually) and discovered that the living room felt a little confined. In real time, I was able to open that manipulate the space up and found an extra five feet made the space feel just right. Talk about making design decisions more quickly and easily!

Client walking around their new space with VR headsets at Framework Headquarters

AR has and will continue to make a big difference in helping us improve the design process – especially from a collaboration standpoint. The BIM model can be used for AR visualization on an image, or in the space, including the construction site where the model can be viewed at its actual size, allowing the user to walk inside the 3D model as if it were a real building.

The image below is a recent AR example we produced for a client. Click on the image to experience a VR 360 view on either your mobile or desktop device.

We also have commercial clients who are looking to do fit-outs or sell a space to future tenants. In that case, we can use AR and/or VR to build a more immersive representation of the project even if construction hasn’t yet started. It also helps from a marketing perspective – just imagine the ability to visit a home or office space from thousands of miles away without taking a single step!

If you want to learn more about AR or VR, I’m experienced in the field and excited to help – all thanks to an augmented reality mobile video game I started playing six years ago.

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