VR in Architecture Design & Review


How can we use immer­sive Virtual Reality and embod­ied loco­mo­tion inter­faces to to design more  cost– and space-efficient solu­tions for effec­tive pre­sen­ta­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion of archi­tec­tural designs and ideas? 

Our over­all goal is to iter­a­tively design and eval­u­ate a novel embod­ied VR system that enables users to quickly, intu­itively, and pre­cisely posi­tion their vir­tual view­point in 3D space and nav­i­gate through the space while free­ing up both hands for inter­ac­tion with the envi­ron­ment and more nat­ural com­mu­ni­ca­tion using ges­tures (e.g., with stake­hold­ers and col­leagues during a design review session). 

Designing the build­ings we live and work in is a chal­leng­ing task, and archi­tec­tural design­ers must work quickly and intel­li­gently to per­suade clients of their design ideas and pro­duce qual­ity projects. To this end many archi­tects have adopted three-dimensional (3D) dig­i­tal mod­el­ing soft­ware to increase the effi­ciency and effec­tive­ness of their design process. However, the 3D design is often con­veyed with two-dimensional (2D) visu­als, which limits design com­mu­ni­ca­tion dra­mat­i­cally. Although recent advances in Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) dis­plays offer poten­tial solu­tions, move­ment sys­tems through the 3D envi­ron­ment can be pro­hib­i­tively expen­sive and still result in motion sick­ness, user dis­ori­en­ta­tion, and dif­fi­cul­ties with navigation.

In col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Vancouver offices of Perkins + Will, we con­duct a project aimed at design­ing and eval­u­at­ing a novel loco­mo­tion system that addresses these prob­lems and enables users to more effec­tively and nat­u­rally nav­i­gate through and expe­ri­ence an archi­tec­tural project prior to its con­struc­tion. Our project  involved qual­i­ta­tive research inter­views and focus groups to out­line system require­ments and gain feed­back from Perkins + Will on the system design, to inform the iter­a­tive design and improve­ment of the system. Finally, we will assessed the system using mixed meth­ods based upon the require­ments and stake­holder feed­back. The result­ing move­ment system will allow Perkins + Will and other archi­tec­ture com­pa­nies to begin using IVR for design review, per­mit­ting them improved com­mu­ni­ca­tion of their design ideas to them­selves and their clients. Ideas pre­vi­ously dif­fi­cult to describe using non-immersive 2D visu­als may be better under­stood and accepted, and hidden prob­lems that arise during the con­struc­tion phase may be more appar­ent and avoid­able. Consequently, the result­ing reduc­tion in con­struc­tion costs asso­ci­ated with on-site mod­i­fi­ca­tions and increased archi­tec­tural qual­ity can result in better archi­tec­tural design out­comes for future occu­pants. Simultaneously, our research will improve our under­stand­ing of the fun­da­men­tal processes involved in human per­cep­tion of self-motion, result­ing in improved 3D user move­ment inter­faces for use in IVR.

Below is a first project video (thanks to a great stu­dent team from IAT344: Linda Nguyen, Danny Blackstock, Jason Chen, and Justin Poon!)


Jake Freiberg who was a key player on this project — below is a link to his Master’s thesis defense talk on “Design Representations in Architectural Practice” and his latest poster 

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Freiberg, J., Kitson, A., & Riecke, B. E. (2017). Development and Evaluation of a Hands-Free Motion Cueing Interface for Ground-Based Navigation. Presented at the IEEE Virtual Reality

Click to view Poster

Media Gallery

Related Publications

Kitson, A., Riecke, B. E., Hashemian, A. M., & Neustaedter, C. (2015). NaviChair: Evaluating an Embodied Interface Using a Pointing Task to Navigate Virtual Reality. In Proceedings of the 3rd ACM Symposium on Spatial User Interaction (pp. 123–126). Los Angeles, CA, USA: ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/2788940.2788956 (Download)
Kruijff, E., Riecke, B. E., Trepkowski, C., & Kitson. (2015). Upper Body Leaning can affect Forward Self-Motion Perception in Virtual Environments (pp. 103–112). Presented at the SUI ’15: Symposium on Spatial User Interaction, Los Angeles, CA, USA: ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/2788940.2788943 (Download)