By using augmented reality apps and devices, architects and urban planners allow their clients to experience proposed designs viscerally, leads to improvements in client satisfaction, reduced overhead for the design firm, and fewer construction delays.
Augmented reality apps provide 3-D visualizations of architectural designs to scale in the actual physical space where the structure will be built.
Many architects and urban planners have experienced the frustration of thinking they have nailed down their clients’ vision for a project only to have their final drawings and plans rejected. Even worse, clients often approve an architect’s designs, but then later complain the building looks different in real life from the 2D drawings and 3D models. Part of the communication problems between architects or urban planners with their clients is that design professionals, through their education, training, and experience, are able to see the completed structure in real life space in their mind’s eye, whereas most of the public does not possess this ability. A great deal of aggravation, delays, and cost overruns could be avoided if clients were able to walk through and explore a building before the architect develops final drawings and/or construction begins. While providing clients with the ability to experience a proposed design in “real life” prior to building the structure might have seemed impossible a decade or so ago, today’s augmented reality apps and devices for architects allow stakeholders to walk through and around a building onsite virtually to experience what it would be like to live in and with a particular design.
How Augmented Reality Apps and Tools for Design Professionals Work
A recent PCMag.com review of the free augmented reality iOS app Building Conversations outlines the basics of how many augmented reality tools developed for architects operate.
- The developers designed the augmented reality app and tools for users to install on their smartphones and/ or tablets, allowing use in either in the office or on site.
- Architects import their plans from their design software, such as AutoCAD, Revit, and 3DS Max, and SketchUp into the augmented reality app.
- The app uses the latitude and longitude of the construction site as points to anchor the proposed structure. The app then renders the structure in a variety of forms using precise spatial ratios.
Some of the options and features available in various augmented reality and virtual reality apps include the following:
- Transitional modes permit the user to experience the interior and exterior of the building during different seasons to develop a sense of the design in various levels of natural light.
- Viewing modes give the user the option to see and explore the design in one of the following renderings:
- Augmented reality, which depicts a full-scale model the building on the actual site where it will be built.
- Holograms allow users to see the architectural design as a three-dimensional object rising from a two-dimensional surface, such as a conference table.
- Turntables provide quick previews of a building’s design that the user can manipulate to see the structure from different perspectives.
- Model choices give the design profession the option to present plans as either simple massing models or as detailed, high-resolution textured models.
- Sharing features permit architects and urban planners to share their plans with clients and stakeholders remotely. Some apps include commenting and feedback functions to collect the views opinions about the architect design or urban plans.
- Physical sensors that feed data from different systems into the app allow architects and engineer to pinpoint possible issues in order to develop solutions before actual real life problems arise.
Watch the public use tablets equipped with an augmented app to explore an aerial sculpture.
The Current and Future Benefits of Using Augmented Reality Apps in Your Architectural Practice
While augmented reality apps add a bit of fun and novelty when reviewing architectural designs and urban plans with clients and stakeholders, these tools offer design professionals some real world bottom line benefits:
- Reduce labor costs by avoiding countless plan revision requests by clients
- Improve level of public buy-in to urban redevelopment plans
- Address potential design problems before construction begins
- Evaluate the progress of a project during construction and make design modifications to prevent future issues that may delay a project.
Have you tried using an augmented reality app in your design practice? If so, what was your experience?