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Virtual Architecture

Virtual architecture: the best way to present your project

Any project, to be successful, needs to be presented at its best. By using VR and BIM metaverse you can organize a virtual tour in the 3D model and guide your client to discover the project you are working on.

The presentation of the project to the client is a fundamental stage of the design process and a step that will happen with each assignment or new job.

Communicating a design ideas or a technical solutions is not always so simple. We often face the risk of not fully communicate the quality of our work or not being clear enough.

In this article, we see what are the best practice to present the architecture project to the client. We can take advantage of the virtual reality (virtual architecture) to organize tours within the 3D BIM model thanks to an application of construction in the Metaverse.

BIM metaverse and virtual architecture

virtual tours in the 3D model

The Uses of Virtual Reality in Architecture

A major trend in recent years is certainly the use of virtual reality in architecture.

The success of this new technology in the construction industry is justified by the possibility of visualize the project in an extremely realistic way, just as if it were already realized. Shortening the time between the project stage and its actual realization has always been one of the main challenges of the sector, especially when presenting the project to its client.

This new technology brings the user into an interactive 3D model, using a special viewer simply connected to the computer or smartphone.

The users immerses themselves in this parallel reality and interacts with the new environment. They explores the building as a whole, analyzes its construction details either architectural or furnishing, verifies the design choices, etc.

The uses and advantages of virtual reality in architecture are many and concern various phases of the design process:

  • design and analysis;
  • review of the design;
  • presentation of the project.

The most effective techniques to present the project

You know well that to get an assignment, the initial idea and the way it is presented are the two most important aspects of a job. Experience shows that the way we present the project, for the client perception, matters more than the project itself. If we can rise interest and involvement, most of the work is practically achieved and the customer will be more willing to trust us.

Presenting the project is therefore a crucial step in which we must play our cards at best and nothing should be left to improvisation. So, let’s reorder the ideas and see what are the best tools for a successful presentation.

First of all, remember that presenting the project should be a bit like telling a story. This technique it seams to stimulate the release a certain amount of oxytocin, fundamental for the activity of our brain, helping the customer to keep focusing on the project.

Here are the ingredients to build a good story:

  • starting from a clear concept;
  • plan the speech so that it is not too long and does not neglect the important details;
  • show the result in a suggestive but clear way;
  • create an empathetic connection with the interlocutor;
  • use suggestive techniques such as immersive virtual reality to amaze the interlocutor;
  • let the images speak through a visual storytelling complete with:
    • graphic drawings;
    • diagrams;
    • render;
    • video presentations in real time.

Images are the communication tool most used by architects, but among the most suggestive and convincing techniques we can certainly mentioning the immersive virtual reality, which is much more intriguing than simply passively observe an image. It is a direct experience, in which you participate in person and live a unique and extremely realistic experience that anticipates the final result of the work carried out.

Today we have taken another step forward and we are talking about the metaverse applied to BIM. Through personal avatars it is possible to enter the digital model together several other users, at the same time. Here the users can interact with objects, walk in the spaces we have imagined. They can observe the details (materials, furnishings, colors, etc.), verify the functionality of the environments and the final result of the work, in a way very close to reality.

Virtual architecture is becoming more and more widespread and within everyone’s reach, let’s see how to use it and what tools are needed.

Virtual architecture: how to organize a guided tour in the 3D model

With the application of the BIM metaverse it is possible to go beyond the use of VR and organize virtual tours within the 3D model with multiple users at the same time. This allows you to guide your customer to discover the project and illustrate the choices and solutions adopted as you move through the environments. It is possible to highlight the materials chosen, the furnishings, the arrangement of the spaces, the alignments between the various architectural elements and the perspectives that we have studied.

Another important aspect is the possibility of organizing virtual tours even with users who are not physically all in the same place. Let’s imagine that our client does not live near us or that he is temporarily away. With the BIM metaverse and virtual architecture, organizing periodic checks in virtual mode becomes simple and saves us time and  money. Especially in the initial phase of the project, exchanging ideas and doing preliminary design checks is essential to ensure the customer’s needs and tastes are satisfied. Visualizing the project solutions from the beginning in a realistic view, avoids generating misunderstandings and allows you to share the choices made in a clearer way and coherently with the final result.

All this simplifies the work of the professional and helps the client to have a precise idea of the project.

To organize a project presentation with the BIM metaverse you need to have:

  • a device connected to the internet (PC, smartphone, tablet);
  • a VR headset (HTC VIVE, HTC VIVE PRO, HTC VIVE COSMOS, Oculus Rift, Oculus Rift S, Oculus Quest 2);
  • the 3D model of the project to be navigated in open (IFC) or proprietary format (Revit, Edificius, etc.);
  • usBIM.reality online application.

To get started, log in to usBIM with your credentials, create a new folder, upload the file (in IFC format) of the project template to be submitted, and share the link with the client.

Follow these steps:

  • open the file by clicking on the screen icon and choose Edit;
  • select usBIM.reality from the drop-down menu at the top left;
  • click on the headset icon at the bottom;
  • wear the headset;
  • uses controllers to navigate and interact with the model.

Your client need to follow the same procedure, and its works even if they are physically away from you.

Users connected to the model can choose to navigate the 3D model through the VR headsset (taking advantage of all the advantages of VRi and living an immersive and realistic experience) or in real time using the browser of a device connected to the internet and moving with the pointer.

To better guide your client to discover the project you can share your point of view in live mode using usBIM.meet (the application of usBIM of video meetings and online conference calls) to fully interact and talk with him even while browsing. in this way it will be possible to break down any “physical” distance between professionals and customers by organizing the visit into the model based on the storytelling you have prepared. During the visit it will be possible to make changes to the model. for example is it possible
to delete or move objects, insert new elements, change the weather conditions and so on.

Here’s everything you can do while VRi browsing in virtual architectural model:

  • walk freely in the 3D model and realistically experience the interaction with the structure;
  • carry out measurements;
  • moving objects;
  • delete objects;
  • change the climatic conditions;
  • simulate different light conditions referring to to hours and date;
  • save a view of the template for later use;
  • share point of views with other colleagues connected to the model and guide them in the virtual tour;
  • select an object and share its view with interested users;
  • detect interference through visual checks or by performing a clash detection;
  • view the avatar of all logged in users;
  • take advantage in real time and through immersive virtual reality, of all the features of usBIM.browser (clash, checker, modification, etc.) to better coordinate the different disciplines thanks to a visual feedback of all the design choices.

Virtual Reality and BIM Metaverse in Architecture

The BIM metaverse has many affinities with virtual reality, although it is a much broader concept. We would be led to overlay the two technologies but in reality they present some substantial differences.

A metaverse is based on the use of open online platforms that allow users to develop and share content and applications. Multiple sides of the metaverse are connected to business activities, in fact, users can create profit opportunity through the sale of goods and services.

Furthermore, the metaverse is not a single virtual world, but a network of distinct virtual worlds. Each virtual world can have unique features and users can move freely between one virtual world and another, choose from a wide range of options and experiences to live, interact and collaborate in an extremely customization environment.

This means that users themselves have the ability to modify the metaverse and actively shape the environment. In other virtual worlds, however, this does not necessarily happen. For example
there is the case when only the developers can change the virtual world and users only explore and partially interact with the environment.

Another difference is that the BIM metaverse is a virtual environment in which people, through their avatars, can meet, communicate with each other and collaborate as if they were in the same place and in a very realistic way, while for the virtual reality those possibilities are limited.

In conclusion, the metaverse provides an integration between physical and virtual life.

In the construction sector, it is possible to link the metaverse scenario to the phases of:

  • design review (project stage);
  • client presentation (project presentation phase);
  • workers training (execution stage and maintenance of the asset);
  • risk management (execution stage and maintenance of the asset).

Virtual reality, on the other hand, is a technology designed to create a completely digital environment far from reality, generated by specific software and completely usable through the use of dedicated hardware (viewers, etc.) that allow an immersive use of a model by the user.

VRi has 5 macro trends of use in the construction sector:

  • improve the design;
  • facilitate workers training;
  • support the construction site;
  • facilitate the workflow;
  • manage the project.