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Virtual reality offers cost-effective vision for better building design

Australian architecture firm BVN has officially launched an independent virtual reality (VR) production studio to create immersive simulations for potential building designs.

Launched today, the Sydney-based VR production studio BVN Real is an evolution of the firm’s existing architectural visualisation division.

It has been under development for the past four years, with a team of artists, architects, developers and experienced designers working to refine the product into an immersive storytelling tool that can be used in a variety of spatial applications.

Previously, 2D plans and 3D modelling were the benchmark for visualising building design. Now, the new studio is offering a more “natural, engaging, and intuitive” way to communicate and understand hypothetical spaces.

“A short while ago, the only option available to experience a new environment was to watch a predetermined fly-through of a space or to expensively build a physical display,” BVN Real’s creative director, Barry Dineen said.

The VR technology means clients can make rapid updates to plans or trial a variety of plans in quick succession, leading to better building outcomes without incurring the costs usually associated with these sorts of updates.

“[VR] is an exceptionally promising medium to experience design and architecture and to support training and learning within these spaces before a building is constructed,” Mr Dineen said.

The studio has so far worked with clients such as Dexus, ANZ, and the University of South Australia.

Tweak continually, build once

One project saw the studio develop three standard hospital rooms – a clean utility, a two-person inpatient room and an operating theatre – repeated multiple times throughout a new healthcare facility.

The simulation replicated all the necessary functions for each room, from medicine drawers and whiteboards, to the use of the directional lights above operating tables and privacy curtains.

The virtual simulation also allowed a number of people to experience the virtual space at the same time, giving stakeholders a more accurate replication of how the physical build would feel and how tasks would be carried out.

“This enables them to collectively identify any issues and to refine and adjust the design to avoid building the wrong thing many times over,” the studio’s designers explained.

Not only was the VR prototype cheaper to build than a physical prototype, it could be continually tweaked to ensure the best possible design for both prototypes.

The studio has so far received positive feedback for its VR prototype offerings, especially about its price and about the rigour of the design.

Not bound by the physical

When applied to plans for a new library recently built in the Sydney suburb of Marrickville, the studio created a “virtual storytelling experience” to communicate the larger vision for the project with an introductory tour, as well as the depth of its design through a multiplayer, explorative function.

“Architecture is no longer bounded by its physical manifestation,” BVN’s co-chief executive officer Ninotschka Titchkosky said.

“The advent of mixed realities is redefining the way we experience space, learn and communicate in virtual worlds.”

The studio is also capable of applying VR technology in training and education situations, and can demonstrate potential office refits in the case of building sales.

“We saw the potential in architects creating cost-effective, high-fidelity worlds to communicate spatial vision,” Titchkosky said, “and the value in extending our expertise to the broader design, property and educational sectors.”

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One Response to “Virtual reality offers cost-effective vision for better building design”

  • This is a really good advancement in design technology. I hope universal design and inclusive accessibility features are added to the mix when using these tools. And when it comes to public spaces, it isn’t just about visitors to buildings who have different levels of capability – it’s about the staff too. That often gets forgotten.

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