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How the Google Virtual Reality Paintbrush Can Help You Design Architecture


Maria Lorena Lehman


Founder — Sensing Architecture ® Academy

‍Image Credit: © nexusby | Fotolia

Experience Multi-Sensory Environments Before They Are Built

Can you imagine creating an architectural model in one-to-one scale and in real-time? What would that do for your design process? And for the way you innovate architectural experience? Well, Google is unveiling a virtual reality paintbrush which allows one to create three-dimensional design forms to human scale. By wearing a headset and waving a hand-held paint-brush tool, a designer can create a virtual world limited only by their imagination.

You may ask yourself: Would I like to experience my design as I imagine it? Would my creative process be faster and of higher quality if I could experience my designs on the fly?

An amazing opportunity which surfaces with such a virtual reality paintbrush is the ability to experience a design in multi-sensory dimensions. For example, if the paint-brush tool creates virtual spaces with specified materials, it may also be possible to specify acoustic spatial qualities which can also be experienced through the headset. Thus, the Google virtual reality paintbrush is a step in the right direction for architecture practitioners as it allows them to see deeper into their designs at much earlier phases in the design process.

See the Google Virtual Reality Paintbrush in Action

To see how Google’s virtual reality paint-brush works, please watch the following video:


Towards a More Adaptive Architecture: Where Virtual Meets Real

As the boundary between physical space and virtual space blurs, it is interesting to note how the virtual is being integrated into the physical world…and not just the other way around. What if such a virtual environment could coexist with a physical environment? How could architectural spaces be made to have even more valuable impact upon building occupants? I can see such “virtuality” injected into museums to express a message or into schools for exciting and engaging experiential learning.

And what if such a virtual human-scale environment was interactive? What if occupant behavior or choice could actually alter the environment? What if the environment that one occupant experiences virtually is different from what another occupant experiences?

Such questions as those posed above carve a path for how architectural practitioners can use such virtual reality tools in a way that expands what current-day environments can do for occupants. By thinking of such tools as having positive effect for both architectural design processes, and for architectural design outcomes, it becomes possible to innovate occupant experience like never before. This is the power of what a new tool can bring when it is placed into the hands of design practitioners that guide their tools creatively.


what members are saying...
Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

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