Virtual Reality, a new technological boom?
2016 is expected to be a year of radical changes because of the introduction in the society of a new kind of Virtual Reality.
The big technological present companies as Facebook, Google, Sony or Microsoft are immersed in the development of new Virtual Reality devices to lead the technological evolution of this new growing market. However, in spite of the current huge boom, Virtual Reality is not a recent concept. Since 80’s, pioneering video game companies as Nintendo, started to create gadgets that allows the player to get a higher immersive experience, hoping to have a very huge Virtual Reality boom. In that moment, technology was not ripe enough and the developers only got devices with static images which rendered pixeled 2D games and caused to the players headaches and damages to the eyesight. In this way, Virtual Reality has been in a latency state until 2011 when a californian teenager, Palmer Luckey applied the new technologies developed for smartphones and got the first Oculus Rift DK1 device. Using this device, the user could immersed in a virtual world with a smartphone screen visualized through two lenses. In adittion, the head movements were tracked with a gyroscope to let the user look inside the virtual world in the same way as in real world.
The release of the Oculus Rift DK-1 for developers, brought a new interest in Virtual Reality for the big technological companies. In this way, Facebook bought Oculus company, Google created its cardboard device for smartphones, HTC started to develop the HTC Vive, Microsoft focus its efforts in augmented reality with Hololens and Sony develop Morpheus for PlayStation 4. Many of this gadgets, at present day in developing process, will be released in 2016 leaded by the Oculus Rift commercial version, looking for a new technological boom that will change the perception of reality and produce a transformation in society as already happened with internet or mobile phones.
Virtual Reality for Architecture. From mi5 architects to mi5VR.
The Mi5 architectural office founded in Madrid by Ignacio Martín and Manuel collado, has more than fifteen years of experience in design, investigation and building. However, with the arrival in 2014 of the new Virtual Reality prototipes, the office suffered a radical change and opened a new section exclusively dedicated to investigation and architectural developing through Virtual Reality; in this way appeared Mi5VR – Virtual & Real Architecture.
The regeneration of Mi5 architecture office shows a vanguard view of what could become Virtual Reality for Architecture. This new way presents Virtual Reality as a powerful tool, as rendering system, and also as a new projectable universe where it is possible the generation of virtual buildings connected in between through internet.
Virtual Reality devices allows the architects to immerse inside the project to experience the space in the same way as the final user will do.
Beyond the obvious utilities of Virtual Reality as project tool or representation system, appears the possibility of creating purely digital buildings, out of physical limits, and with new compositional laws. In this moment it is possible the appearance of a Digital Architect, who creates spaces and enviroments where the user can access to new feelings and sensations. An example of this concept is the investigation way that in Mi5VR is dedicated to experiment with virtual museums. Thus a user can visit an exhibition from any place in the world, the displayed pieces get new perception ways and the contempletion experience has new hues and sensations.
Virtual Reality yields a total change of paradigm. Now people doesn’t have to own the architecture to enjoy it, the user don’t have to be the owner of a great house to feel the space, only have to get the access to the content through Virtual Reality decives.
In addition to the work inside the architecture office, Ignacio and Manuel teach and experiment at the Architectural Association in London and in the Universidad de Alcalá. They are looking for the immersion of the students inside new project methods and Virtual Reality technologies which in little time will lead the course of architecture.
Virtual Reality Workflow. Ibiza Redux.
Ibiza Redux is the final year project made at the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de la UAH by Fernando Gómez using since the first moment Virtual Reality techniques.
The project has been developed to restore the big open air quarries located on Ibiza island. Each quarry is a huge space where Virtual Reality has become an essential tool to create a group of pieces that establishes a properly relation between the final user and the miner waste. Through virtual Reality it is possible to perceive the projected space in a way that the architect can test the proportion, the relation between objects, the materiality,… in order to get a suitable design.
To develop architecture project using virtual reality, it is neccessary for the architect to use tools specialized to make video games. To virtualice Ibiza Redux it were used an Oculus Rift DK device and the game engine Unity 3D.
Thanks to the spatial vision and the capacity to use 3D software as 3DS Max, Rhinoceros, Revit… that architects have, the integration of architecture project in Virtual Reality is a process that doesn’t involve a special difficulty.
Nowadays Fernando Gómez is teacher of the subject Arquitecturas Virtuales at IED Madrid, where shows to his student how to create complex Virtual Reality experiences using 3D models and game engines.
Author: Rotating Editor Alcala