How virtual reality will dramatically redefine architecture

By Alyssa
Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

product-fe7-quartz

 

 

By: Quartz creative services

 

 

 

As we construct future buildings, we will start to see more mingling between architecture and virtual reality.

Imagine you’re a hotelier. Your newest property—let’s call it a high-end resort in the south of France—has gone into construction, but is not yet fully designed. Your firm is based in New York. The old way of designing the property would have involved several transatlantic flights and PDFs sent between you, the architecture firm, your marketing team, and any other stakeholders. Choosing the layout of the hotel rooms, making furniture selections, even just picking out materials and a color scheme, “can be a long and expensive process,” says Benoît Pagotto, a co-founder of IVR Nation.

IVR Nation is one of a few companies championing a new approach to making these kinds of architectural decisions. In the new way, clients need not fly back and forth. They simply strap on a virtual reality headset and “step into” a digital version of their new property. Once the client is there—virtually, at least—she has a spatial understanding of how a furniture layout feels, or how a floorboard material meshes with the textiles chosen for bedding. Without leaving the VR experience, the client can make changes and collaborate with her partners in real time. What once took weeks can now happen in an afternoon. “It’s a real game changer for what the architecture industry has been doing,” Pagotto says.

VR is a place
Architects have come a long way from drafting plans on big sheets of royal blue paper with dotted white lines. The analog blueprint is, by now, practically a cartoon of an architectural rendering—but for years, they’ve still lacked the tools to bring their work into the third dimension. Most architects today will use CAD software to create computer-rendered mockups of a physical space. Some will even augment them by 3D scanning a property and feeding that data into the rendering. One particularly advanced design method is called building information modeling; with BIM, architects use meta-data about projects to create interactive, digital prototypes of buildings. This allows for a new degree of precision and efficiency during the design process. But even in sophisticated BIM and CAD programs, architects and clients can only see abstracted versions of a project.

This makes architecture a particularly fitting application for VR. Technologists, filmmakers, and designers are still making sense of exactly how VR will fit into mainstream culture, but in its simplest form, VR is a place. So, too, is architecture. Pagotto and his IVR Nation co-founder, Olivier Demangel, recognized this a couple years ago and launched their studio in January 2015. Pagotto comes from the world of luxury retail design; Demangel is a veteran of the video game world. The combination is important: IVR Nation provides a service-for-hire for developers and designers, and the experience needs to simulate materials, finishes, and colors to work. To do that, IVR Nation treats 3D models a bit like video game design. Pagotto and Demangel take information from clients—either an existing 3D model or one they create from scratch based on the architect’s plan—and build the experience in Unreal Engine, a game design platform Pagotto says they chose “because it’s the most advanced in terms of photorealism.”

Hardware for our architects of the future
IVR Nation uses the Vive headset to show clients spatial renderings. Pagotto says they chose the Vive over, say, the Oculus Rift, because the Vive can track your body’s position (so if you lie down in the real world, you’ll also lie down in the virtual world) and since it comes with dedicated controllers that help users control their experience, it cuts down on common VR side effects like motion sickness.

TruVision VR, another company working at the intersection of VR and architecture, also uses the Vive. It also offers clients experiences via the Samsung Gear VR or the Oculus Rift. This is partly because TruVision has a wider sliding scale for its projects. Some clients come in at the very initial stage of design, while others come in to make some final nips and tucks, says Connor Handley-Collins, a co-founder and sales and marketing director of TruVision. Like Pagotto, Handley-Collins says these new models allow for clients to make design decisions more efficiently than in the past. That cuts down on mistakes, and therefore, costs. “For us, the biggest part of the design process is the ability to change the objects and colors in real time,” Handley-Collins says. “Before we may have looked at colors in 2D, and then you do them one way, and they’re stuck.” These efficiencies are particularly desirable for large-scale projects that will use one template to design many rooms, like micro-living units, hospitals, schools, and hotels.

Looking ahead, the ability to make these changes ahead of time will become even more powerful when they’re part of a larger, virtual decision-making process. This could include, for instance, construction worker training ahead of putting stakes in the ground. Dassault Systèmes’s Optimized Construction lets designers and builders create virtual animated scenarios that act out how to use equipment, or how to handle a given terrain. Once these become available, they’ll become part of a string of VR experiences that help buildings go up more efficiently.

Right now, the design-oriented VR experiences come as services created by third-party studios like IVR Nation and Tru Vision. But Pagotto says soon, it will be a standard offering. “In the coming years architecture firms will integrate this in-house,” he says. “You can put your headset on and look directly at what you modeled.” That may be happening already: global architecture firm Gensler just launched its Gensler VR app, which combines with the Microsoft HoloLens to start showing clients work created in-house. Gensler will use the new technology to do things like adjust office layouts to encourage collaboration, move indoor infrastructure to make spaces more pleasant, and reconsider the sightlines in arenas to give sports fans the best view possible. For smaller firms like IVR Nation and Tru Vision, that could signal opportunity for consulting, or acquisition. Either way, soon, Pagotto predicts, “The whole architecture world is going to be working in real time.”

 

To discuss this and other topics about the future of technology, finance, life sciences and more, join the Future Realities discussion on LinkedIn.

This article was produced by Quartz creative services and not by the Quartz editorial staff.

How an Industrial Mindset Helps SHoP Speed Its Design Process

By Akio
Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

ArchiFuture 2015 is the largest and most influential BIM strategy and technology event in Japan. John Cerone, Director of Virtual Design & Construction at SHoP Architects, delivered a keynote address on Design Delivery to the ArchiFuture conference attendees on October 23, 2015 in Tokyo. The following is a summary of his presentation:

SHoP Architects ArchiFuture2015

John Cerone, Director of Virtual Design & Construction at SHoP Architects

Since moving its design process to the 3DExperience platform, New York-based architecture firm SHoP has adopted an “industrial” attitude toward buildings. The firm uses virtual design to “fabricate” buildings, much as the aerospace industry assembles airplanes using digital models.

“In architecture every building is different, and every detail is different, but our processes are very much the same,” explains John Cerone, director of virtual design and construction with SHoP Architects.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “Every building is different but our processes
are very much the same” – John Cerone @SHoPArchitects

This approach requires a new design mentality, focusing on a high level of detail and a close working relationship with fabricators very early in the design process.

Moving to a parts mentality

The most significant difference in this industrial approach is shifting to a focus on individual pieces as well as the project as a whole.

Very early on in a project, the design team works in terms of individual components and systems.

“They may not be the final systems that will be fabricated — they’re more like placeholders — but the system is setup so that when we get the accurate information we can easily swap the parts in,” Cerone explains.

A project may have hundreds of thousands of parts, but virtual tools allow the firm to structure all of that component data and access it in context of the larger system. CATIA allows the designers to easily move from a view of the entire building into separate building systems as well as the individual part.

Individual components within the larger structure

On SHoP’s largest implementation of this technology, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, SHoP learned to create templates for component types, then use CATIA language to expand those templates into distinct pieces.

As Cerone explains, “We’re beginning to think about design in terms of which parts are reusable and which parts are different.”

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “We’re thinking about #design in
terms of which parts are reusable, which are different”

In this case, a simple panel template containing all of the design, engineering and fabrication information was expanded into a handful of panel “families,” and then 12,000 unique panels.

Barclays Center: Installation of 12,000 unique panels

Barclays Center: Installation of 12,000 unique panels

The schedule component

With every aspect of a project living in the 3DExperience platform — not just geometry but also drawings, models, schedules and other details — something so abstract as the schedule itself can become a component that is attached to a design detail as a specific line item.

“That line item has a deliverable — the detail or a model of that detail is the deliverable and that can be attached to that schedule,” Cerone explains. “The schedule can be used in two ways: the linear time, but also as an object. The task that is associated with time is also a container for these deliverables.”

The result of this is a holistic view where time is always a factor, helping keep projects on schedule.

181

Viewing the schedule as a “component” attached to a design detail can help keep projects on time

A world without drawings

Because all component information is generated in the model, SHoP prefers to communicates through fabrication plans when possible, rather than passing design drawings to fabricators.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “Component info in model allows @SHoPArchitects
to communicate via fabrication plans, not drawings”

In the case of the Barclays Center, SHoP provided the panel fabricator with the machine code needed to cut each panel, as well as information on the install sequence to help plan which panels to cut and deliver first.

024

Fabricators receive machine codes needed to perform the cuts of specific pieces; no drawings need be exchanged

For both fabrication and installation, Cerone notes that the laser scan becomes a critical part of the design process.

“It’s essential that we know the conditions that we’re installing to so that we can find problem areas ahead of time, before units are installed,” he says. A laser scan will reveal when conditions are out of tolerance, and ensure an accurate fit for installed components.

An evolving process

In addition, the firm has found that as new virtual processes are explored on a given project, subsequent projects move much more rapidly.

For example, as the Barclays Center neared completion, SHoP began to apply the processes it had learned on that project to a project in Kenya. Despite working with a vastly different form, using a different technique, the firm was able to reduce the design time on its new project to a couple of months.

“This leaves more time to run analysis, and to be much more specific about what we’re designing,” Cerone says.

Subsequent projects have moved from design to fabrication in a matter of weeks, while retaining a high level of complexity.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “How an Industrial Mindset Helps
@SHoPArchitects Speed Its Design Process”

Related Resource: 

Façade Design for Fabrication: an Industry Solution Experience from Dassault Systèmes


 

A “Perfect Storm” for AEC Industry Transformation

By Akio
Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

shutterstock_122817211

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: A “Perfect Storm”
for #AEC Industry Transformation

It’s no secret that the AEC industry is suffering from a surplus of waste: wasted materials, wasted time spent on rework and change orders, waste from highly fragmented processes.

However, what the industry is beginning to realize is that it’s not the first group to think, There must be a better way.

The aerospace industry is one recent example; in the 1990s, companies such as Boeing began to look at technologies and processes used in other industries to tighten their supply chain and manufacturing processes. A switch to all-digital modeling made this possible.

Also necessary was a switch in mindset. Aerospace professionals had to switch their thinking from “project” to “product,” and adopt product lifecycle management tools that would deliver increased value to the end-user.

With these 2 steps, AEC professionals can likewise optimize their processes:

Step 1. Adopting Revised Business Models

According to Hector Lorenzo Camps, founder of PHI Cubed Inc., the industry is looking for ways to improve, but to truly move forward will first have to revise its compensation and business models.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: “To move forward, #AEC industry
1st must revise its comp & business models” @HectorCamps

Although design-build contracts are increasingly popular, there remains too little true partnership among all parties involved in the design, construction and operations processes.

Today’s typical contracts emphasize distinct roles for all players in order to help control liability.

“Many relationships in the industry are strained because of the adversarial nature of the industry standard contracts that pin professionals against each other to divide risk,” Camps says.

New collaborative forms of agreement—namely, Integrated Project Delivery—remain slow to take off as AEC professionals explore new liability rules and shift from a “best for me” to a “best for project” mentality.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: #AEC is shifting (slowly) from
“best for me” to “best for project” mentality.

Tied to this need to collaborate is another necessary step for AEC professionals: the need to shake their reliance on a 2D, paper-based management process.

Step 2. Adopting Tools for Better Integration

Until all industry players make the switch to 3D processes, there will be a problem with what Camps calls “two versions of the truth with documentation, one in 2D and the other in 3D.”

Many firms are working with a mix of 2D CAD and 3D BIM to accommodate all parties’ preferences.

“Contractually, firms go with the 2D documents, which often are obsolete and predate the model. Builders under pressure, wanting to build from the best available data, are asking to build from the model and produce 2D documents after,” Camps says. “The coordinated model needs to drive the dimensional and informational control of the project and the field implementation documents. The contractual language needs to reflect this.”

Camps believes owners—who ultimately stand to gain the most from collaborative projects—will drive this evolution to 3D.

“All they need to do is write into their contracts the information management strategy. As long as the roles, responsibilities and use case for information are defined, and intellectual property is dealt with, they should have no problem getting professionals to deliver digital documents,” he says.

Why Now Is The Time For Change

The good news? The AEC industry is already beginning to adopt the tools and processes that will make transformation possible.

“We have the perfect storm for real industry transformation as significant as the industrial revolution,” Camps predicts.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: .@HectorCamps predicts a “perfect storm
for #AEC transformation as significant as #IndustrialRevolution”

First, AEC professionals are beginning to borrow concepts from manufacturing. To further reduce waste and improve quality, the industry is looking to close the gap between design and fabrication. Lean construction is one such effort, as the industry attacks waste by taking lessons learned from Lean Manufacturing and Just in Time delivery models.

Second, Camps points to a number of technology solutions becoming available that may further speed improvement.

For example, the advent of cloud computing is making it easier than ever for all players to work together in a more tightly connected process.

As Camps points out, AEC companies generally have far fewer employees than manufacturing industries, making it potentially more difficult to invest in an expensive data management system. Cloud computing can allow even small firms to participate in building lifecycle management without having to invest in prohibitively expensive data management systems.

Click to TweetClick to Tweet: Cloud computing allows small firms to
participate in #BLM without investing in expensive systems

By putting data on the cloud, it’s also typically easier for various parties to share data and resources related to a project.

“This ad hoc approach to PLM makes it very easy for the AEC industry to adopt the benefits of integration and collaboration without all the forward structuring that would happen if they had to form a unique corporation in order to integrate their processes,” Camps says.

In addition, the Internet of Things is making it easier to move digital models from the drawing table to the field, giving contractors and designers rapid insight into potential problems. And Camps even points to rapid manufacturing, such as 3D printing, as a potentially promising technology for optimization, as these tools could someday make it possible to produce one off building components while maintaining the economies of scale of standard offsite production facilities.

Beyond technology, however, today’s growing engagement from public owners looking to spend more wisely is invigorating further innovation in connectedness.

The most carefully watched case in point is the UK’s Level 2 BIM requirement for federal buildings, set to become effective in 2016.

“It’s expected that by 2019, BIM Level 3 will be required. Level 3 in essence is ‘full collaboration between all disciplines by means of using a single, shared project model which is held in a centralized repository,’” Camps says.

He adds, “By that definition, they just described the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform.”

Related Resources

Collaborative, Industrialized Construction Solutions from Dassault Systèmes

Spotlight on PHI Cubed: Guiding the AEC Industry Toward Greater Levels of Integration

Spotlight on MEMKO: Pushing Collaboration Across the Project Life Cycle to Revolutionize Design and Construction

Spotlight on Impararia: Reducing the Gap Between Aerospace Optimization and AEC Inefficiency



Page 4 of 9« First...23456...Last »