Virtual Walkthrough – Using VR to “See” Modular Buildings Before They’re Built

Rusty WilliamsArchitects, Industry Insights, Modular Construction, Video0 Comments

virtual walkthrough of harvard life lab

Virtual Reality, or VR, is making it possible to walk through modular buildings before they’re built.  Prior to now, two-dimensional architectural drawings were the best way to get a sense of how a new building will look — how rooms, doors, furniture, windows and appliances all fit into the space. But most humans learn best through direct experience and there are many subtle aspects of a building’s design that are hard to really virtual walkthrough headset and displayunderstand until they take shape.  To address this, architects are increasingly offering clients the option to view buildings using a virtual reality headset.

Triumph collaborated with leading architectural firm, Shepley Bulfinch, on the design and construction of the Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab in Allston, Massachusetts.  The new Lab is a key part of Harvard’s rapidly expanding “Innovation Corridor” and is adjacent to the existing Innovation Lab on Western Avenue. The space is designed to serve as an incubator for 15 to 20 new companies.  Because of this, the interior needs to have common spaces for collaboration, task-specific research areas, and private meeting areas. To truly envision this type of multi-activity facility, VR was the perfect tool.

Some architects believe VR will expand deep into the planning phase of construction projects. An article in Building Design and Construction Magazine describes a future in which the architect,  owner, builder and subcontractors can all “meet” within a VR rendering of the project to discuss modifications to the design. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“The future I’m excited about is to be able to say, ‘We’re going to meet in the model,’” says Chris Grant, VP and Creative Director with HMC. Instead of using conference calls and a shared PowerPoint presentation or PDF, imagine architects, project directors, and clients in different parts of the world with the ability to schedule a meeting, put on their respective headsets, and meet in the VR model.

While virtual reality is getting the most publicity for recreational applications such as games and movies, there is a very practical aspect of VR for people involved in next-generation construction projects.  Triumph is proud to be working with partners on these front-lines of innovation.


The video below shows the Harvard Life Lab prior to construction and illustrates how you can do a virtual walkthrough from room-to-room to experience all of the features and design elements of the building.

 

 

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Rusty is a graduate of Trinity College in Hartford, CT. He's the co-founder of multiple tech companies and enjoys exploring the intersection of education, innovation, and built space. He hosts a podcast called Forming the Future which features conversations with thought leaders in campus planning, collaborative learning, ed tech and architecture.

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