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Virtual / Augmented Reality as Architectural Sensory Experience

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

Image Credit: © Morgan888 | Pixabay

VIRTUAL REALITY AS A "REAL" EXPERIENCE

The recent interview of Andreea Cojocaru on the Voices of VR Podcast, was quite a lively discussion about the parallels, overlaps, and juxtapositions of virtual reality (VR) environments as related to physical reality environments. During the discussion, Cojocaru explains how virtual reality experience can indeed be a “real” experience as it feeds the human senses by which participants perceive and respond. (1)

Thus, the question remains: Can virtual reality be an architectural sensory experience? As you ponder the answer to this question, it is important to think first about how to define an architectural sensory experience. At its core, architectural design nurtures the human body moving through space, perceiving the “world” which surrounds them. This can also be said of virtual environments. As a VR participant engages with an immersive virtual environment, they are also experiencing stimuli through their senses, as well as moving through space (both virtually and physically as they navigate the “world”).

EXPANDING DESIGN BEYOND THE PHYSICAL WORLD

Not all buildings are to be considered fine works of architecture, just as not all VR experiences are to be considered fine works of architectural experience. Vital to the design of VR environments is the ability to create an immersive experience that evokes human response in meaningful ways. Of course, meaning can take many forms. For this reason, virtual reality stands as a very interesting path by which to explore immersive architectural experiences that may not be able to be built in the purely physical world.

As you design architecture for the physical world, think of how virtual reality (or augmented reality) can help you explore new dimensions of space – and the way in which that space gets perceived. You can use virtual reality to inform your architectural designing, to create truly unique spaces that cannot be built elsewhere, and/or you can create experiments to unlock how humans perceive and respond to the design of spatial stimuli. Thus, virtual reality is not completely separate from the world of traditional architectural practice. As Andreea Cojocaru explains in her interview, engaging in each can help the other, as you are likely to become a better architect because of your virtual reality investigations. (1)

DESIGNING ARCHITECTURAL BEHAVIOR WITHIN VIRTUAL SPACE

Yes, virtual reality can be an architectural sensory experience if the architect of the environment understands and builds an immersion that speaks in the language of architecture. And this architectural language is what gives architecture its behavior that ultimately evokes participant engagement, perception, and response. Within virtual reality design, traditional architectural principles and methods can fuse with new architectural principles and methods. This creates exciting opportunity for architects to expand what virtual reality (and traditional architectural practice) can do. The virtual canvas awaits.

Reference:

(1) Bye, Kent. (2018) #719: The Phenomenology of Architecture and How VR is Revolutionizing Spatial Design Intuition. Voices of VR Podcast [Accessed Online: January 14, 2019] http://voicesofvr.com/719-the-phenomenology-of-architecture-how-vr-is-revolutionizing-spatial-design-intuition

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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 multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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