Re: Architecture and Virtual Reality

>In article <[email protected]> Frederick Clifford
>Gibson, [email protected] writes:

>>Architecture and Virtual Reality - Is a convergence near?
>>Fake Space Labs - Menlo Park, CA

><...Much stuff deleted...>
>>As a tool for understanding spatial relationships and kinetic
>>experiences during the design process, V.R. is unparalleled.
>>The ability to "hover" in space, to "zoom" through the design, to
>>approach details slowly and move around them; this is a designer's
>>dream come true. In this particular simulation, no constraints were
>>placed on speed/direction of motion, and no collision detection was
>>active. You could literally fly through walls.

><...More deleted...>

>>Missing from this simulation was direct interaction with the Virtual
>>environment. Also missing was "reality" limitation modules to allow
>>"human-like" movement through the space when desired.

><...More deleted...>

>>The ideal V.R. interface for designers will include not only
>>visualization and interaction, but the ability to create designs
>>immersed in the Virtual Environment at a reasonable cost.

>A lot of what you discuss is very important to understanding the role
>that "VR" will eventually play in architectural design and
>visualization. There are many perceptual problems that may impede the
>transition of immersive environments (or VR or whatever your term may
>be) into the architectural design process. A complete field of view
>is very important to wayfinding and spatial comprehension, I would
>imagine far more important than screen resolution of the HMD. A
>friend of mine linked the field of view issue (among others) to nearly
>a 20% discrepancy in the perception of distance as compared to the
>same judgement in the real building. (Research done at the HITLab in
>'93.) The settings in the HMD for inter-ocular distance and focus and
>HMD optic lenses can also have drastic effects of the perception of
>space. As you pointed out, it is important to have some amount of
>"reality" built in to keep from flying through walls and floating and
|Obviously, if you are thinking in terms of APPLIED design rather
than BASIC design, there is likely to be a major limitation on
consideration of reality---as it exists today. However, although
if one thinks in terms of BASIC design within this new electronic
medium, the currently unbuildable may be considered free of these
existing constraints of today's reality. That could mean considerations
of energy as well as matter in the making of buildings. Therefore, I
have no problem with dematerializing the architectural conceptualization
As a matter of fact, it could lead to new and exciting technology!

>such when a person is trying to understand the characteristics of the
>building. (A particular point of view or distance of the floor to the
>eye is very difficult to hold without a constraint system built in.)
>The ability to "fly" through a space also effects the perception of
>scale of the building, not to mention the problems incurred when the
>object itself is able to be scaled up and down. Natural movement
>patterns become nearly impossible, so we must rely on artificial means
>of movement to "propel" ourselves around a digital model. Lighting,
>colors and textures also seem to play a large role in the ability to
>reasonably understand a digital space in a means similar to how you
>would understand a real space.

>This is not to say that "reality" is the starting point for active use
>of immersive environments. On the contrary, a rough model with flat
>shading can be extremely useful inside an immersive environment in
>helping a designer understand the complex relationships of a space
>that they have designed. One of the most useful abilities in using an
>immersive environment to study form and space is that of scaling.
>There are very different perceptual mechanisms at work when a person
>is studying form at a scale which is full size relative to themselves,
>versus a person studying a scaled model of the same space. I found
>that it was very useful to jump back and forth in scale from the
>building at full size to the building scaled down to a size about that
>of the spread of my arms. Here interaction is vital because you can
>grab the building and spin it around with your hand, push your head
>through it, look at the top and bottom in rapid succession, etc.
>Basically it becomes an object rather than a building. Similar to
>looking at a chipboard model, but much lighter and infinitely scalable
>to whatever size is convenient.

>Interactive immersive design directly into three dimensions is already
>a reality. I was able to use the labs at University of North Carolina
>at Chapel Hill (arguably the best non-government facility in the
>world) to do my Masters thesis on the representation of experience in
>architectural design. One of the applications they allowed me to use
>was 3DM (for Three-Dimensional Modeling I imagine), which was
>effectively MacDraw in three dimensions. It included a palette which
>you took around with you which allowed you to build forms
>interactively in the virtual space. There are also rumors of projects
>involving the creation of tools for interactive 3D design inside an
>immersive environment going on at University of Central Florida (UCF)
>and Carnagie Mellon (CMU). At UNC, the next generation of 3DM is
>being considered, and will be centered more with design as a target
>rather than just the pure entry of form into space.

>It will still be a few years before "VR" becomes integrated into the
>design process. The hardware is much less expensive (near $100k), but
>still far above what most architectural firms can afford. As more
>studies into the perceptual issues occur, and prices continue to drop
>while performance continues to skyrocket, and research into the design
>process occurs and is applied toward the creation of useful design
>tools, the application of this technology toward the field of
>architecture will begin to happen outside of the research lab, and I
>believe architecture as a whole will be very positively effected.


>Richard W. Zobel [email protected]
>Virtual Environments Laboratory [email protected]
>North Carolina State University
>School of Design
>Box 7701, Brooks Hall [voice] (919) 515-7341
>Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-7701 [ FAX ] (919) 515-7330
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