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What is Augmented reality architecture?

Augmented reality in architecture is the technology that superimposes 3D architectural models on top of the real-world visual layer. Let’s see how and what benefits it can offer in the construction industry.

Augmented Reality or AR, allows you to add digital information and content to real objects using mobile devices. All you need to do is grab a tablet or smartphone and point at any object to view text, images, models or videos superimposed on the current view.

This technology is now applied in many sectors, including the construction sector (AEC).

So, whether you are a construction technician or a BIM designer, it’s ever more important to know what Augmented Reality in Architecture is and its great potential.

What is Augmented reality architecture?

In architecture, Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology based on super-imposing virtual 3D models of infrastructures, buildings or simple components in the real world with an extensive information layer.

The basic principle of AR is to “increase the perceived sensory reality” or to increase the amount of perceived information (technical data sheets, construction details, material analysis, costs) of an object and display it using a smartphone, a tablet or a 3D viewer.

Are you a designer and modeling a construction project, or part of it, using a BIM software? Imagine if you could present your work to clients using a simple multimedia device, with which to show your architectural solutions way before the building process even begins!

Imagine being able to take a tour of the building using your device’s screen interface to discover shapes, material characteristics or even propose changes directly in real time while looking at the model.

This new way of experiencing architecture would change everything and finally bring better communication methods into the workflow, reducing misunderstandings and allowing any kind of issue to be solved in a much easier and participated way.

Diagram of augmented reality in architecture

The working principle of how Augmented Reality in architecture works.

How is augmented reality used in architecture?

Augmented reality has various applications in architecture:

  • project analysis and planning;
  • construction site organisation;
  • maintenance and renovation;
  • health and safety;
  • interior design;
  • landscape design.

Let’s briefly take a closer look at the main advantages it offers in each of these fields of application. In the meantime, why not download this free rendering software for a test run of its superb rendering tools with AI-based denoising. Seeing as AR technology is an extension of Virtual Reality, you can also see the great advantages it can offer to any type of project for yourself.

Project analysis and planning

AR allows you to assess the intervention feasibility and study the project better by immersing yourself directly into it from the first design phases.

Of course, it can become very difficult to define shapes or technical characteristics of components and good quality work can require many hours of imagination and experimenting, but with the help of augmented reality, professionals can:

  • view creations virtually
  • check the architectural composition and its functions;
  • check proportions and spaces;
  • verify position and orientation;
  • validate material finishes;
  • assess environmental and social impact aspects.

Organization of the construction site

Not only design but safety too. With AR based risk assessments, we can even optimize construction activities planning with virtual tours of the site identifying critical safety scenarios or hazards and avoid waste of resources and delays in the sequence of on-site work activities.

Augmented reality and its use during the constuction phase

Site manager uses AR to check out the next phases of work compared to completed works

Health & Safety

Within any workplace, markers can be positioned on specific points or objects (fire extinguishers, switches, emergency doors). In fact, technical details or explanatory datasheets are superimposed directly on the risks, with all advisory notes for prevention measures and instructions for use of particular safety equipment.

Interior Design

Choosing the furnishings of a home, shop or office is much easier with the use of AR, with which:

  • simulate new arrangements by arranging the furnishings directly in real spaces;
  • compare different furnishings before purchasing them;
  • verify the measurements of furniture inside certain rooms;
  • compare materials, colours and fabrics;
  • check lighting devices to evaluate lighting and shadows on furniture.
Augmented reality and interior design

Augmented reality and interior design

Landscape Design

Augmented Reality technology improves the quality of Landscape Design, by directly presenting the spatial relationships with the landscape, in particular:

  • shading of trees on areas;
  • positioning of plants and vegetation, swimming pools, gardens;
  • the recreation of damaged environments.

Landscape architecture focuses on dynamic and complex outdoor spaces and AR is indicated for rapid analysis without the need to reconstruct the environment itself.

What are the benefits of using Augmented Reality architecture?

The main benefit of the use of AR in architecture is certainly the possibility to view projects under construction, not only for the designers themselves but also for customers.

AR offers the user the sense of scale that would be impossible by looking at simple 2D documents: inserting a digitized version of the structure into a physical plot of land or walking in the life-size building allow them to interact digitally with their projects.

In addition, it greatly simplifies the planning process improving team collaboration:

  • all stakeholders are involved;
  • collectively view the same environment;
  • experiment with BIM data;
  • develop notes and constructive ideas.

The greater readability and understanding of the spaces, added to an effective collaboration, allow great savings in terms of time and money and therefore greater profits.

With AR, in fact, it becomes faster to perform:

  • constant inspections and checks;
  • measurements of physical elements;
  • identification of errors in the pre-execution phase;

Achieving greater coordination between the execution phases and the improved safety during its entire life cycle.

Augmented reality and IoT

Even IoT can be integrated with augmented reality.

To understand why, let’s see the main differences between these two viewing methodologies:

  • IoT (Internet of Things), represents the process through which real objects acquire a digital identity, simply through a wireless connection. Digital objects process and exchange multiple pieces of information with each other;
  • AR instead proposes the access to digital content by interacting with the surrounding environment in real time.

It is logical to understand that such a large amount of information needs to be represented in a fast and understandable way, so which display mode can be the most effective if not the AR?

IoT devices acquire data from the physical world so that it can be analyzed, whereas AR reads and reclassifies that data so that people can view and interact with it.

Difference between AR and VR

Often AR and VR are confused, but there is a difference between the two:

  • augmented reality amplifies the real world, inserting more data into the surrounding reality;
  • virtual reality allows you to create a virtual environment that replaces the real one.