Artificial Sunrise: Visualizing Architecture Through Gaming Technology

Author: Ramona Deaconu

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Rendering. A beautiful sunrise.

Change is needed from this rigid process because this is the perfect definition of an architectural visual in the beginning of the year 2016, but a revolution is near. The frequent and misguided beauty of a rendering in today’s perspective has been how long it took to digitally process. This process has become an art in itself and tools for it are in abundance. Rendering programs have changed the way we think, act, deliver, educate and persuade form. Architectural critiques frequently question the erroneous imagery of architecture because of the detachment from context, scale and overall visualization. In education many instructors feel the need to see imagery to identify a presentation or even explore the surrounding environment, but most of the time this image becomes a mundane process for deliverables. The context and human scale of a project is a critical component for architecture, education and study. The exploration within architecture school and its parallel to other topics and issues have opened more possibilities for architects to examine other avenues to deliver the portrayal of design. Currently, we are experiencing a new wave of deliverables in production. Interactive programs or “Gaming Engines” are starting to carve a new delivering method when it comes to architecture or architectural visualization.



Adjacent to visual architecture, the gaming industry is currently booming by its bigger platforms, followers and thought provoking imagery. This imagery of form and presentation is what few professionals in the architecture field have come to experiment with. As 2016 starts, the rise of tools in gaming that could implement imagery into architecture is very unique. Animation and renderings are going through a very interesting evolution. Gaming engines like Unity, Unreal Game Engine, Cry Engine and Snowdrop are starting to become tools for architects, which enables focus on real world mimicry. Environment control, walkthrough animation and even sound manipulation are a few key features of these tools. It’s true, the benefits of such instruments are the availability and visual leap towards efficiency, but currently the amount of tools that are available to the public is overshadowed by the question of whether or not our profession is determined by the tools we use. Does a tool define us? If an architect uses gaming technology is he a developer? Gamer? Architect?



As designers using gaming technology, we have to understand our attraction to form and rely on the functional tools of architecture within the context of the profession. When we begin the visualizing process a designer’s final goal should not only be to “sell” a design but to raise the standard of living through an idea. The understanding of visual association towards the environment contributes to the comprehensive and augmented education of the design field because it excels at creating connections between user, analysis, site and general efficiency. The capabilities of gaming tools adapt to the ever-changing field of work and materiality within architecture, which challenges architects to adjust and develop depth within analysis. An excellent example of gaming engines in the urban setting would be the notion of what we are able to create within site, sound and point of view.

Zahner Rendering Using Unity3D Rendering © Unity3d

Zahner Rendering Using Unity3D Rendering © Unity3d

As a result, the incorporation of gaming engines into the design process requires architects to reach a level of digital consciousness and architectural process. This requirement also allows architects to have a better education and pragmatic process. This level of “digital” consciousness is broken down into three factors: visualization, process and execution. Interconnectivity allows for architects to understand relations within structure and theory since they are not mutually exclusive. This newfound knowledge elevates the level and efficiency of data vs. analysis vs. execution within the fields of topography and structures. The general idea of these gaming engines or tools is to create relationships within a variety of working fields.



This ripple of gaming engines and architecture, which industries have noticed, has even created a rise in virtual reality walkthroughs as a deliverable of design in the field. Unity and Unreal Engine has created a way to rapidly edit an environment within a rendered 3D scene. This would significantly drive down cost of visualization in office since scenes can be easily edited in model without the average rendering time. This level of mobility within a 3D space is quite revolutionary due to the ability of allowing a designer to emerge into an interactive world of form, color and fun. Is fun what architectural deliverables are missing? Aren’t we tired of wearing black? This virtual reality would be a very interesting approach to how we educate, present and even connect with clients. Navigation through a space at a human scale is very important to understand architecture. This tools would allow architecture to once again re-attach itself to the decisions and pragmatic effect that it has towards the disruption of form.

Revit & Oculus Rift Via Unity3D © ArchVirtual

Revit & Oculus Rift Via Unity3D © ArchVirtual

To conclude, RENDERS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE FUN, the technology has been globalized to a level where every architect has the opportunity to grow and learn. At this point in the design process, architecture needs to move towards the concept that computers are an extension of human knowledge and their purpose is to educate, calculate and elevate human thinking. Once this movement occurs we will continue to see the benefits of these tools at a larger scale. These benefits, which allow for a higher level of digital consciousness, are visible through the detailed data, pragmatic analysis and creative implementation. Clearly, the incorporation of gaming technology into the design development allows architects to become “more”. How would this approach affect architectural deliverables? How much further can we grow? Can we make architecture fun again?



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