On the Latest Representation Trends and Immersive Experiences in Virtual Design Platforms: SpaceForm x CRA

On the Latest Representation Trends and Immersive Experiences in Virtual Design Platforms: SpaceForm x CRA

In 2021, CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati’s proposal to create sustainable alternatives for urban heating networks was selected as one of four winners of the global Helsinki Energy Challenge. The project entitled Hot Heart proposed “island-like, floating seawater reservoirs to heat the city of Helsinki in a green way”. Using Twinmotion, Epic Games’ real-time visualization platform for the architecture industry to design the intervention, the large scale infrastructural project needed a digital representation tool to possibly put scale into perspective, offer a real immersive experience to engage the client, and exhibit instant changes related to natural factors such as daylight. Come SpaceForm, a data-driven virtual presentation and design tool. Created to facilitate remote cooperation, the technology allows clients or stakeholders to be more immersed in the story of the design.

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Building a new way to collaborate more effectively, SpaceForm is a smart platform that connects remote projects and teams together to explore designs in the same virtual space, in VR, desktop, or mobile, to build compelling 3D, real-time presentations, imported from Rhino 3D, Revit or Sketchup. In fact, through this tool, real-time design reviews and discussions related to costs, materials, performance, and sustainability are made easier. CRA has been using the platform throughout the initial design phases of the Hot Heart project, the largest infrastructural facility of its kind, to help decarbonize the city's heating network and vision to improve the urban environment through innovative climate remediation strategies.

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Hot Heart Axo. Image © CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati
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Hot Heart -The plan. Image © CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati

We had the chance to talk with the team from SpaceForm and the design team of CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati, in charge of the Hot Heart project, as well as try out the collaborative presentation platform. Read on to discover what they had to say about this new way of representation, the future of the platform, as well as its impact on architecture, and watch a demo at the end of this article, to plunge into the immersive experience of the floating seawater reservoirs.


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AD: What can you tell us about this new way of representation? What makes it different than other platforms?

SpaceForm provides a new way of performing a real-time presentation to a group of people – something that has not really existed before within the built environment. It would be necessary to either build your own platform or hack one of the other existing platforms to try and get a similar result to this.  

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Hot Heart . Image © CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati

AD: What are the main factors in the Hot Heart Project that only this platform can portray and highlight?

With SpaceForm you have the ability to fully control the narrative within a presentation, explaining the concepts behind the project, as well as touring through the project together and exploring the interactive movement through the space. Since nature constitutes a substantial part of the design of Hot Heart, the platform's function to depict the atmosphere during different hours and weather conditions really helps us communicate the main design concepts behind the project.

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Hot Heart . Image © CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati

AD: What are some of the key projects that have used this technology to offer users immersive experiences?

There is a lot of activity that is under NDA, but our most recent is the Korean Football Association project, with UNStudio. It was designed in Amsterdam over lockdown and presented to the client in South Korea via SpaceForm.

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Hot Heart . Image © CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati

AD: How do you perceive the future of the SpaceForm platform? and the future of representation in general? How crucial is it to the future of architecture?

We want the platform to expand the idea of what design visualization can do. Once all parties can see and feel how design decisions affect the overall experience, this will lead to a more informed and faster process that requires less physical travel to deliver better results. We don't think it's just the next iteration of visualization, but the same thinking that goes into making a physical model – there is something visceral about experiencing a design in an immersive environment that we sense with more than just our eyes. We also think that architects are perfectly placed to be the human interpreters of design in the future 3D internet. We can also bring design and data together, to make more informed decisions around pushing the net-zero agenda. Platforms like SpaceForm then become a bridge between the physical and digital, which like it or not, is where we're heading.

Hot Heart is an international collaboration for the Helsinki Energy Challenge developed by the teams below:

  • CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati (Design)/ CRA team: Carlo Ratti, James Schrader (Project Manager), Alberto Benetti, Federica Busani, Rui Guan, Stephanie Lee, Juan Carlos Romero, and Chenyu Xu/ Renderings by CRA graphic team: Gary di Silvio, Pasquale Milieri, Gianluca Zimbardi
  • Ramboll (General Engineering) – Mika Kovanen, Kreetta Manninen
  • Transsolar (Climate Engineering) – Monika Schulz, Thomas Auer
  • Danfoss Leanheat® (Demand Management Engineering) – Oddgeir Gudmundsson, Jukka Aho, Juho Nermes, Lauri Leppä, Nico Klecka
  • Schneider Electric (Technology Partner for Sustainability and Energy Efficiency) – Jani Vahvanen
  • OP Financial Group (Financial Analysis)
  • schlaich bergermann partner (Lightweight Structural Engineering) – Mike Schlaich, Boris Reyher
  • Squint/Opera (Communications Partner)

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Hot Heart plan . Image © CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati
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Map of Helsinki . Image © CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati


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Cite: Christele Harrouk. "On the Latest Representation Trends and Immersive Experiences in Virtual Design Platforms: SpaceForm x CRA" 27 Apr 2022. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/978986/on-the-latest-representation-trends-and-immersive-experiences-in-virtual-design-platforms-spaceform-x-cra> ISSN 0719-8884

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