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Virtual Reality: The Latest Architecture and News

Tour These London Landmarks Without Leaving Your Couch

Architectural photographer Rod Edwards specializes in 360º virtual reality imagery and virtual tours of iconic buildings. Having spent the last decade producing this type of media, Edwards was recently commissioned by Visit Britain to shoot his “More London” project as part of the global campaign for the 2015 James Bond film “Spectre.”

Read on to see “More London” and more projects by Edwards.

A Virtual Look Into Mies van der Rohe's Core House

Architecture depends on its time. It is the crystallization of its inner structure, the slow unfolding of its form. – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

In 1951, Mies van der Rohe designed the Core House, a participative design structure which could be completed by its inhabitants.

This flexible model challenged certain architectural concepts, explored new industrial technologies, and proposed a modular system to improve the quality and affordability of housing.

10 Models Which Show the Power of Point Cloud Scans, As Selected by Sketchfab

Traditional 3D models made up of surfaces have for a long time aided us in visualizing buildings and spaces, but they often come at a cost: large models require a lot of storage and processing power, and can become incredibly complex to the point where they are difficult to navigate. As a part of our Selected by Sketchfab series, Sketchfab has their eye on a more efficient, increasingly common method of capturing architectural spaces; namely, point clouds. Point clouds are made up of a set of points located in a three-dimensional coordinate system, that when put together merely give an impression of the surface of an object, or the façade of a building.

The method is fairly simple. The collection of data points is generated by a 3D scanner that rotates while emitting a laser that measures the distance to points on surrounding surfaces. This data can then be converted into a polygonal model that can be rendered like any other 3D model. However, the advantages of keeping the scan in point form are what makes it great; the file sizes are much smaller, and the porosity of the point clouds make it possible to see through walls and surfaces, accessing "hidden" spaces and uncommon views of seemingly familiar surroundings. Read on to find out more about the possibilities and advantages that come with point cloud modelling.

This Free Tool Takes 3D Models into VR with One Click

The emergence of virtual reality applications for architecture has been one of the big stories of the past few years – in the future, we’ve been told, VR will become an integral part not just of presenting a project, but of the design process as well.

That future may now be upon us, thanks to new tool from New York City startup IrisVR. The company has released Iris Prospect, a program that enables you to send your plans and models directly into VR with a single click.

A beta version of the software is currently available for free download from their website, making VR accessible to anyone.

How Physico-Realistic Rendering Helps Architects Choose the Right Glass for Facades

The physical properties of glass are invaluable and unequaled when it comes to the architect’s material palette. From the time of the cathedrals and the the brilliantly colored stained glass that served a functional and didactic purpose, to the modernist liberation of the floor plan and the exquisitely-framed horizontal views provided by ample windows, architects have turned to glass to achieve not only aesthetic but performative conditions in their projects.

Today, Architects face an increasing array of choices in specifying and designing with glass for building facades, as glass manufacturers propose a greater variety of colors, textures and patterns than ever before. A wider range of coatings and treatments has also been developed, allowing for a finer selection of glass panes with a combination of light transmittance, reflectance and absorption to meet the needs of outstanding architectural projects. These options affect the aesthetics and energy performance of the glass, and therefore of the overall building.

Thanks to advanced calculation tools, energy performance can now be anticipated accurately, but the graphic representation of glass is still a challenge, and yet a crucial need for architects.

A Virtual Look Into Patrick Bateman's "American Psycho" Apartment

Patrick Bateman’s apartment from American Psycho is one of the most iconic locations in recent film history – his bone-white business card writ large. The sterile set design, by Gideon Ponte, is as impersonally creepy as Christian Bale’s performance (sure, put a telescope by the window, why don’t you; a serial killer without voyeurism just isn’t scary enough.) Archilogic’s interactive 3D model invites you to experience the apartment from the inside – without fear of an axe to the head.

11 Historical Examples of How to Design Doorways, as Selected by Sketchfab

Our friends at Sketchfab have noticed a recurring trend: among the many 3D scans shared on their platform, a significant number are of historical doorways. Often neglected in today’s designs, doors and doorways are essential physical and mental transition points between the interior and the exterior of a building. While Mies van der Rohe’s strive for visual continuity and the use of glass doors has some critical advantages, it is not applicable – or only poorly applicable – to every design case. Fortunately, history shows that visually and spatially differentiating doors and doorways from the rest of a facade can be a resourceful alternative.

With this set of 3D models selected by Sketchfab, viewers can explore historical doorways online and discover the spatial sequences that they can offer. From framed, indented, raised, lowered, protruding and ornamented doors, these models clearly showcase the various design strategies available for you to keep your doorway design options open.

Sketchfab Strengthens Commitment to Virtual Reality With New Features

Online model sharing site Sketchfab last week announced three new features intended to solidify its position as one of the web's foremost platforms for sharing VR-viewable 3D models online. Originally launched in January of this year, the virtual reality features of Sketchfab's platform have proven to be popular and has even led to Sketchfab being referred to as "the Youtube of VR."

However, with its initial launch Sketchfab's VR capabilities clearly privileged simplicity and a low barrier for entry—the platform was viewable using just a smartphone web browser and basic VR headset such as Google Cardboard, and models required no extra work to make them VR compatible. As a result, Sketchfab's VR platform lacked the features of more high-end systems of viewing VR. With their latest update, Sketchfab has added useful features while keeping barriers to entry low.

A Virtual Look Into A. Quincy Jones and Frederick Emmons' Case Study House #24

As A Quincy Jones rightly said, “There’s no unimportant architecture”.[1] The late architect worked alongside his colleague, Frederick E. Emmons, putting their hearts and souls into the design of Case Study House #24, but sadly it was never built. The location in which Case Study House #24 was to be constructed was once a part of the Rolling Hills Ranch, the area which is now popularly known as San Fernando Valley.

The design of the house started with the surrounding environment, which is richly brought out in the architectural drawings by the architects. The region with its lush green vegetation invites swimming, barbecuing, horse riding and other such outdoor activities.

Courtesy of Archilogic Courtesy of Archilogic Courtesy of Archilogic Courtesy of Archilogic + 8

6 Castle Fortresses Across Europe, as Selected by Sketchfab

Today, thanks to our partnership with Sketchfab, we take you on a virtual tour of some of the most breathtaking historic fortresses across Europe. The design of castles and fortress complexes are particularly interesting because of their strategic siting and defense mechanisms. As strongholds of territorial claim, fortress complexes are meant to be self-sustaining in times of conflict and contain not only defense fortifications but a suite of supporting structures such as chapels, schools, and housing. This effectively turns fortress complexes into a village within a village. These richly detailed scans hosted on Sketchfab allow us to see in detail the urban planning strategies of different historic periods and places.

For a more immersive experience, all of these models can be viewed on a virtual reality headset such as Google Cardboard.

A Virtual Look Into Beverley David Thorne's Case Study House #26

The biggest surprise in this Archilogic model is the spectrum of color. Anyone who has visited the Case Study House 26 in San Rafael, California during the last 40 years would be familiar with the building’s classic all-white steel frame look, but the architect, Beverley David Thorne, had originally picked a very different color scheme: “Dull Gold” for the steel, saffron and other more vivid colors for the interiors. “The choice of exterior colors,” wrote Thorne in Arts & Architecture magazine, “was dictated by the climate and the character of the surrounding landscape.” This Archilogic model recreates the original 1963 conditions, down to the bedroom wall and tile colors.

In "Man on Spire" The New York Times Magazine Brings VR to One World Trade Center's Pinnacle

This week's issue of The New York Times Magazine, the special New York issue with a theme of “New York Above 800 Feet,” takes a rather irreverent approach to the magazine’s design. Instead of being viewed in the traditional horizontal orientation, the periodical has been rotated 90 degrees and is meant to be viewed by turning the pages up. The long dimension, which is only 10.875 inches horizontally, becomes 17.875 inches vertically, and according to the magazine’s editor, Jake Silverstein, “‘[It] remains absurdly short for our subject, but it is in keeping with the striving spirit that has given New York City its distinctive skyline: This is as tall as it is possible for our magazine to be."

Courtesy of The New York Times Magazine Courtesy of The New York Times Magazine Courtesy of The New York Times Magazine Courtesy of The New York Times Magazine + 5

Sketchfab Adds Support for Apps and WebVR

Sketchfab has announced the release of Virtual Reality apps for Oculus, HTC Vive, Gear VR, and the company’s own Cardboard, as well as initial WebVR support. Making Sketchfab available on more headsets will initially allow viewers to access a curated showcase of models, eventually expanding to the company’s entire VR collection. Additionally, users will now have the option to view any of their own models in VR, just by uploading to Sketchfab.

NBBJ and Visual Vocal Partner to Create Virtual Reality Productivity Platform

Seattle-based architecture and design firm NBBJ has formed a new business partnership with startup Visual Vocal to develop an innovative virtual reality (VR) productivity platform. Using this new tool, distributed project stakeholders will be able to immerse themselves into unbuilt environments and provide instantaneous feedback.

As opposed to traditional methods of communication such as email, a new VR platform, combined with mobile and cloud-based communications, could help expedite and facilitate the sharing of designs with clients, in a way that has "the potential to transform workflows within the field of architecture and beyond," state NBBJ in a press release.

5 Reasons to Add Virtual Reality to Your Workflow

This article was originally published on ArchSmarter titled "5 Ways Virtual Reality Will Change Architecture."

Virtual Reality (VR) is about to change architecture forever, meaning that every firm needs to decide how it’s going to respond to those changes. That may sound like hyperbole, but 3D imaging and the benefits computers brought to the field pale in comparison to what VR brings.

Computer-generated images are, in many ways, an updated version of the hand-drawn renderings of the past. VR takes viewing models to a whole new level. Based on existing design software, it allows you to take 3D models and experience them in amazing new ways. So if your firm is thinking about whether or not to invest in VR technology now, here are a few reasons why you should stop considering and start changing how your architecture firm functions.

This 3D Model Shows the Damage Caused by ISIS to Palmyra's Temple of Bel

In August of last year, many of the most precious landmarks of the ancient city of Palmyra were damaged or destroyed by the forces of ISIS in a violent, iconoclastic attempt to send a message to the rest of the world. Since the UNESCO World Heritage Site was recaptured in March, the question in the architectural preservation community has been how to rebuild and preserve the buildings. That process will begin, of course, with a thorough assessment of the damage.

Shortly after Palmyra was recaptured Iconem, a French company which specializes in the digitization of archeological sites, arrived in Palmyra to lead the survey. In partnership with the Syrian DGAM (Direction Générale des Antiquités et des Musées), Iconem was granted access to the city to survey the damage to the temples of Bel and Baalshamin, the Monumental Arch, the Valley of Tombs, and the museum—all sites which are of the most cultural value and therefore were the greatest targets of ISIS's violence.

The Temple of Bel in Palmyra before the occupation by ISIS. Image © Flickr User Alessandra Kocman licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 The Temple of Bel in Palmyra before the occupation by ISIS. Image © Flickr User Jiří Suchomel licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 The Temple of Bel in Palmyra before the occupation by ISIS. Image © Flickr User Alessandra Kocman licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 The Temple of Bel in Palmyra before the occupation by ISIS. Image © Flickr User Jiří Suchomel licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 + 6

7 Outstanding Examples of Cultural Heritage in 3D Models, As Selected by Sketchfab

Using photogrammetry to capture and model existing buildings is a fantastic way to share cultural treasures with the world, and with VR features cropping up everywhere even enables us to give people virtual tours of a site of cultural significance from thousands of miles away. But beyond that, capturing a model of a building is also a great way to digitally preserve that structure at a given point in time - this technique is even being used by Harvard and Oxford to protect structures placed at risk by the ongoing wars in Syria and Iraq.

In that spirit, our friends over at Sketchfab have compiled a selection of cultural treasures that have been immortalized on their platform. Read on to see all seven models, and don't forget that you can view all of them in virtual reality using Google Cardboard.

A Virtual Look Into Julius Ralph Davidson's Case Study House #1

This month's Archilogic model is a virtual tour of the very first Case Study House being featured in Arts and Architecture Magazine's program, designed by Julius Ralph Davidson. After World War II, American soldiers returned home from battlefields in Europe. They had to cope with traumatic experiences during the war and probably just wanted to rebuild their life and settle down.

It must have been hard to get back to normal. Certainly people wanted to live the American Dream: The pursuit of happiness, the intention of all Americans. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was first proclaimed in the United States Declaration of Independence in 1776 and became a sort of “doctrine” for American citizens. This was an idea often reflected in the Hollywood film and television industry. The films that were produced in Hollywood after 1945 were stories that suggested that every hard-working person would succeed. Hollywood seemed to repeatedly produce stories of the American Dream.