flexiblefullpage -
billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
Currently Reading

Not just for POKÉMON GO anymore: how augmented reality is transforming architecture

Augmented Reality

Not just for POKÉMON GO anymore: how augmented reality is transforming architecture

By solving a long-standing communication problem, Augmented Reality (AR) is poised to make architecture quicker, nimbler, and more cost effective.


By Ted Madden, Troy Malmstrom, Matt Nett, & Stephanie Shroyer | GBBN | June 22, 2022
Augmented Reality Architecture
Courtesy GBBN

By solving a long-standing communication problem, Augmented Reality (AR) is poised to make architecture quicker, nimbler, and more cost effective.

The problem: How do you represent three-dimensional space in a two-dimensional medium (like paper)? Architects have struggled with this problem for a long time, especially as they seek to communicate with clients.

Architecture has developed a whole graphic language in response to this problem. Through drawings, diagrams, plans, sections, elevations, and renderings, architects strive to communicate different aspects of a design. However, interpreting these representations requires a level of ‘fluency’—a familiarity with the conventions—that most clients lack.

The AR solution: AR can help architects cut through this difficulty by delivering a full-scale design model that end-users can navigate together in real time and space. An intuitive, easy to understand mode of communicating, AR can bridge the interpretive gap, enabling the project team to gather better feedback, resolve construction and maintenance issues before they happen, and save our clients money.

What exactly is AR? And how do architects use it?

The same technology that has enabled millions to catch wild Pokémon on the streets of their cities, also allows architects and their clients to stand in the shell of a building and see where the design calls for doors, walls, and windows.

AR allows us to make intuitive design decisions in real-time & in real space

Distinct from virtual reality, which immerses its user in a fully digital world, augmented reality enhances an existing, real-world environment with an overlay of digital information that allows you to see the digital and the real at the same time. AR can use goggles, tablets, or smartphones (whichever best suits the viewing experience) to show where different design elements would appear within the actual space.

This is especially valuable to designers, because it taps into a client’s intuitive and embodied understanding of the world rather than their ability to read an architectural drawing.

Better feedback & decisions

We recently used AR to present the design of a Medical ICU fit-out on the 12th floor of UK HealthCare’s Chandler Hospital. This process significantly increased participant engagement as we stood within the shell of the space. A myriad of comments like, “oh… that’s what that would look like” or “that’s what the drawing meant…” made it clear that the end-users understood the design with more confidence. It’s one thing to know abstractly that patient rooms have windows of a given dimension that are located so far off the ground. It’s quite another experience to stand in the building core (where the central nursing station would be located) and look down the hall to see what kind of a view that provides.

AR technology also allows for manipulation in real time. For instance, to help the client decide between different design options, you can set up the AR model so that certain features can be turned on and off or so options can be seen side by side. At UK HealthCare, we were able to explore different configurations for patient room entries by changing the spacing of the window and door, and the direction of the door’s swing within adjacent rooms. This enabled medical staff to ‘sit’ at the nurse station and test which window placement provided the ideal view to support their workflow and patient care. We did the same with different headwall configurations.

Tapping into that intuitive understanding of space is especially valuable for healthcare clients, because their frequently repeated procedures (e.g., checking vitals and charting patient records) enable them to feel when the space is working or not. But this value is not limited to healthcare clients. We also recently used an AR model to enable a theater company to see how different lobby and concessions configurations would help them manage the pre-show and intermission crush of activity they experience.

Smoother construction, easier maintenance, & new possibilities

It’s not just end-users who benefit from the application of AR in architecture. AR models can enable better collaboration between designers, contractors, and facilities management departments by enabling us to view a building’s infrastructure together before it’s built.

Being able to view where airducts, plumbing lines, and wiring will be run, we can head off conflicts, better phase construction, and ensure that construction proceeds without costly delays. Feedback from facilities personnel can also help us ease ongoing maintenance processes.

AR models have even helped us expand what is buildable. When designing Willkommen (a mixed-use project with a large affordable housing component), we used an AR model to work with a mason to produce a striking and highly unusual brick geometry (above). Augmented reality not only enabled the mason to produce a new effect with a familiar material, but because we were able to do this ahead of time, it staved off the premium associated with new methods of construction – keeping costs low.

Saving clients money

AR models are not the first or only models to tap into a client’s intuitive sense of space.

Hospitals, for instance, will rent warehouse space to create full-scale, foam mockups of a new department. Like AR, this allows healthcare teams to run simulations and evaluate the space, but it is much more time-consuming to produce and expensive to store. AR models, on the other hand, are produced quickly and don’t require you to sign a lease in order to store them.

From quick iterations and testing to better collaboration, construction and communication, AR models are changing the way architects work and they’re opening a new world of design possibilities.

Wilkommen Wall AR

Willkommen Wall AR 2
AR model informs undulating brick wall construction for Willkommen facade.Courtesy GBBN.

 

More from Author

GBBN | Jan 25, 2022

Retooling innovation districts for medium-sized cities

This type of development isn’t just about innovation or lab space; and it’s not just universities or research institutions that are driving this change.

GBBN | Jan 13, 2022

6 strategies for giving new life to ghost retail buildings

There is a tremendous opportunity to repurposing these “ghost stores” from taking advantage of the embodied carbon of the site to increased economic incentive for communities.

GBBN | Aug 4, 2021

When the hospital becomes home

Patients and their loved ones need a variety of meaningful spaces outside the patient room to enhance feelings of optimism and control.

GBBN | Apr 30, 2021

Registration and waiting: Weak points and an enduring strength

Changing how patients register and wait for appointments will enhance the healthcare industry’s ability to respond to crises.

GBBN | Mar 25, 2021

The academic library: Unlocking the secret playbook for first generation college students

Academic libraries and librarians have been reinventing themselves to unlock the secret playbook that holds some students back.

GBBN | Nov 11, 2020

Passive house design: A key to sustainable community building

Passive House is a high-performance building standard that emphasizes tightly insulated enclosures, heat recovery, and monitors airflow to reduce energy consumption.

GBBN | Sep 15, 2020

Campus libraries are leaping into the future

The world of information and student populations are constantly evolving. Academic libraries can lead the way as campuses strive to stay ahead.

GBBN | Sep 10, 2020

Easing the oncology journey: The role of urgent care

Oncology patients are better served when they’re connected to the right staff.

GBBN | Jul 27, 2020

Putting 'home' at the heart of affordable housing

Home is a powerful thing. It’s the place that forms you, a guiding set of relationships, memories, and experiences that, for better or worse, make you who you are.

GBBN | Jun 22, 2020

Beyond the pandemic: A long-term view of healthcare environments' 'new normal'

As healthcare systems emerge from the initial effects of the pandemic and begin the process of reoccupying their ambulatory facilities, we expect two significant forces to shape these spaces’ ‘new normal.’

boombox1 - default
boombox2 -
native1 -

More In Category




halfpage1 -

Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021

 


Magazine Subscription
Subscribe

Get our Newsletters

Each day, our editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe

Follow BD+C: