Case Study: Immersive visualisation for architectural design
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Immersive visualisation for architectural design

Hickman & Smith Architects work with the MTC to bring an 18th century derelict mill to life

A picture tells a thousand words, and seeing our project come to life in the virtual reality suite knocks the spots off a thousand pictures!
Bob Panther, Client of Hickman & Smith Architects

The Challenge

Traditionally, the architectural design industry uses pre-rendered visuals or scale models to communicate their designs to clients and stakeholders. Whilst this can provide a reasonable representation of concept designs for presentations, there are still situations where technology can provide a greater level of understanding, realism and collective appreciation for the designers and clients.

The challenge here was for the team at Hickman & Smith Architects to effectively present their proposed designs to their client, utilising their own 3D dataset, in such a way that the client could make efficient, visual-based decisions.

MTC's Solution

The MTC virtual reality CAVE system presented an opportunity for Hickman & Smith Architects to fully communicate their design and allow the client to experience it as if it were real.

Utilising the IC.IDO VR software from ESI, the 3D architectural design was imported into the fully immersive environment. By utilising a combination of head-tracking and 3D stereo visuals, the client was able to interact with the building in a very natural way and systematically ‘walk’ the spaces, offering comment or proposed design changes on the fly.

Using VR as a design tool assists the process of identifying cost savings earlier in the design stages and, therefore, reduces the need for expensive variations once the project is on site.

Walking around our virtual mill has shown us where the design meets our objectives and has allowed us to adjust the design to improve the quality of the building, and reduce building costs at the same time.We amended theVR model by lowering the upstairs living area walls, and within 10 minutes the changes were made to integrate window seats on top of the thick stone walls and allow much improved views over the local countryside. It is clear to see exactly how Hickman & Smith Architects are converting our vision into reality.
Bob Panther, Client of Hickman & Smith Architects

Benefits to the Client

  • Faster and more effective decision-making, resulting in a reduction in timescales once the project is on site
  • More efficient use of time and materials         
  • Early identification of issues and required changes before any significant investments
  • Reduction in building costs and rectification work
  • Ability to compare design alternatives within minutes
The simulator shows everything exactly as it will be - and for anything that isn’t quite right, it can be compared with alternatives and the best solution determined in a few minutes, which is so much better than wasting time and materials on rectification work or living in a compromised design.
Bob Panther, Client of Hickman & Smith Architects