VR – The Architect’s Best Friend

Wouldn’t it be cool if you, when designing a new office building, were able to invite the customer’s staff of 400 on a virtual tour – so they could give you feedback?

Guess what: You can.

Published 22/10/2019 by Aleksander
Artec 1

The University of Bergen (UiB) is renovating Nygårdsgaten 5, developing what will become the new workplace for 400 of their employees. With any new build comes uncertainty, and especially so when productivity and employee well-being is at stake.

That was exactly why Norwegian architectural firm Artec invited the UiB staff on a guided, virtual tour through their new workplace-to-be. Using state-of-the-art VR technology, like Dimension10’s software, they wanted the staff to better understand the proposed changes and how the work environment will look and feel upon completion.

It turned out to be a very wise decision.

«VR alleviates our natural fear of change.»
Martin Isak Jensen, Artec
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Pictures from Artec Source

The value of specific feedback

UiB and Artec weren’t exactly sure how the staff would react to their unconventional approach. After five days of testing, however, not one staff member had objected to the process or the overall plan. Quite the opposite – everybody were enthusiastic, growing eager to move into the their new offices.

«Both with customers and colleagues, I think the discussion has changed, from being about the placement of things, to how we experience them. »
Martin Isak Jansen of Artec, on how VR is changing the design process

For Artec, the architect, the VR tour produced something truly valuable: specific feedback. The real-life experience enabled the staff to provide micro-level input, like the height of the handrails, how the desks and screens were placed and so forth.

Could the 2D-tours of the good old days have produced the same insights?

Not a chance.

«It’s a lot easier to grasp the end result when you can participate yourself, in VR.»
Martin Isak Jansen, Artec

A 2D plan – or even a 3D model on a conventional screen – lets you see, whereas VR allows you to experience. That makes all the difference. And anyone can do it.

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Pictures from Artec Source

VR is a breeze with Dimension10’s software

Artec equipped a room with four VR workstations, accommodating three visitors plus Artec’s guide at the same time. All four stations were powered by Dimension10’s software. UiB’s staff members had each booked a predefined time slot of 15 minutes. After five days, all 400 employees had been guided through the 3D model, gaining an intimate understanding of the design proposal.

Setting up a VR workstation used to be a somewhat cumbersome process, but with baseless headsets, the process has become much more streamlined, as all you need to get started is a VR-ready PC. At Dimension10, we pride ourselves in lowering the threshold for using VR in all sorts of scenarios.

In an interview with Norwegian tech magazine Teknisk Ukeblad, Martin Isak Jensen asserts that VR can help architects achieve a lot, with minimal effort.

“It takes very little extra work to prepare an existing model for VR. It’s something we do ever more frequently, both internally and with customers. The earlier in the process we use VR, the more we see the projects’ possibilities.”
Martin Isak Jansen, Artec

According to TU, construction is due to commence in the fall of 2020. Completion is expected during the spring of 2022.

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Ready to try it out for yourself?