When Frank Lloyd Wright first put pen to paper on his famous Fallingwater house, he likely couldn’t conceive the changes that would come to his field. In a relatively short space of time, computer-aided design (CAD) software has allowed architects to quickly put together comprehensive and detailed models and send them to colleagues and clients halfway around the world.
The biggest changes, however, are yet to come. Now's the time for augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR, respectively).
The age of altered reality
Forget the VR you would’ve seen in the arcades of the 1980s and 1990s – modern VR is something else entirely. With sleek headsets you plug into your computer, you can quickly gain access to immersive virtual environments.
It’s not like looking at a computer screen. Instead, the world encompasses everything you see, with a degree of depth perception not possible with a traditional screen.
The benefits for architecture are plain to see.
An architect can sit at his or her desk and pop on a headset. Within moments, they can be inside their latest home or office space, seeing how a staircase intersects with a wall or how the building itself intrudes on neighbouring properties.
AR is a little different. Instead of putting on a headset to view a virtual world, you’ll put on a piece of hardware similar, but designed to overlay objects in the real world. It’s an important distinction. With AR, our aforementioned architect can design a digital model and see how it looks in front of them – right on the floor.
You may remember the clever AR app IKEA designed – it’s a good example of what’s possible with the technology.