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Virtual Reality: The Latest Architecture and News

Bringing Design to a Broad Audience: The 7th New York Architecture and Design Film Festival

October has become a busy month in the design world. If you’re living in the United States, New York specifically, it means Archtober: a portmanteau that means the city is flooded with architecture activities, programs and exhibitions, piled onto an already rich design calendar. One of these events is the New York Architecture & Design Film Festival, which started on Tuesday night and runs through Sunday October 18th, and will screen 30 films from around the world in 15 curated, themed programs.

This week, I was able to visit the festival to absorb the atmosphere and speak to the festival's director Kyle Bergman, to learn the ins and outs of this year’s festival, how things got started, and where it will go in the future.

A Virtual Look Into Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion

The Barcelona Pavilion was officially only used once, and that was on the 27th of May, 1929, when King Alfonso XIII of Spain participated in a ceremony for its opening. Its role, according to an official statement by President Paul von Hindenburg, was to “present the Spirit of the New Germany: simplicity and clarity of means and intentions—everything is open, nothing is concealed.” As the first official participation of Germany in an international event since the catastrophic end of the First World War, it was a day of enormous symbolic importance, attended by diplomats, aristocrats and dignitaries. Within a few years the peace would collapse, in Barcelona as much as in Berlin, but for a moment, in May, modernity was met with optimism.

The Barcelona Pavilion was intended to embody this moment. Free of external ornament, the building was made of the most luxurious materials. Walls were fashioned of thin plates of luminous semi-precious stone, from green polished marble to golden onyx. According to Philip Johnson’s influential account, they didn’t physically limit space, but rather suggested flowing movement, and didn’t divide so much as bind; bringing the inside to the outside by continuing beyond the roofline into the garden. While the columns provided a kind of cartesian grid of points tethering the roof, the walls were positioned freely. In the courtyard was a bronze nude, arms aloft in a gesture that might be dance, might be grief, reflected in a still pool. With the asymmetrical walls, the luxurious stone, the bright light, the podium on which it sat; the pavilion was at the same time both a hyper-modernist building, and a classical ruin.

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

Farnsworth House, the temple of domestic modernism designed by Mies van der Rohe as a weekend retreat for a Chicago doctor, is one of the most paradoxical houses of the 20th century. A perfectionist mirage, it floats like a pavilion in a park, but its history has been beset by plagues, floods and feuds. As the second installment of a series of three modernist classics presented by Archilogic, we’ve modeled the Farnsworth house so that you can see if—in spite of its austere reputation—it can be lived in after all. In this model you can explore the spatial arrangement of the house, and refurnish it with Eames chairs, deck it out with your IKEA favorites, or booby-trap it with children’s toys.

A Virtual Look Into The Eames Case Study House #8

The Eames Case Study House #8, usually known simply as Eames’ House, is usually presented as a kind of kaleidoscope of details. It remains one of the most exuberantly performative homes in the history of architecture, with its resident designers, Charles and Ray Eames, as the chief actors. They enacted the day-to-day as an ongoing celebration, documenting the daily rituals of work, play, and hospitality with photography and film. What this theatre of life conceals is that the Eames’ house was itself, structurally, a kind of theatre. Examining the house as an interactive Archilogic 3D model holds, for this reason, some revelations even for those for whom the house looks as familiar as an old friend.

Virtual Reality: Coming to an Architecture Office Near You

Virtual Reality. It’s an old term, even an old technology, but it carries new weight - and it’s coming to architecture, soon. Its prevalence will be a result of its near universal accessibility; the experience can now be powered by the modern cell phone. It’s probably on your desk, in your pocket - you may even be reading on a virtual reality engine right now. The price point to participate, thanks to Google Cardboard and a device you already own, is less than twenty dollars.

Google Cardboard might be considered a wearable, but don’t think Google Glass and shiver. As it stands, the technology is more inline with a smart-tv or peripheral, not something to be worn in public. Before we get into what it is, let’s talk about what it can do. We as designers have gotten very good at showing what a space might look like, but in many ways we have come no further in demonstrating what a space feels like.

Want a Virtual Reality Headset? Make One For Almost Nothing With Google Cardboard

One of the most hyped stories in the world of technology is the development of powerful, affordable virtual reality headsets for the commercial market. For architects, the ability to immerse yourself in an imaginary world is an enticing prospect, for both professional and recreational uses - but at $200 and upwards for what is still a product under development, devices like Oculus Rift are not for the faint-hearted.

But now Google, ever the ambassador for the more fiscally-cautious tech junkie, has a solution that won't break the bank. Their contribution to the emerging virtual reality market is "Google Cardboard," which creates a simple headset from an Android-powered smartphone and - you guessed it - some cardboard. Read on to find out how it works.

ArchDaily + IIDEXCanada Launch Virtual Spaces Competition

Have you ever wanted to see your un-built or fantasy project brought to life through the lens of a virtual reality headset? We’ve teamed up with IIDEXCanada and Invent Dev for the ArchDaily + IIDEXCanada Virtual Spaces Competition, which aims to find the best un-built and fantasy projects. Designers and architects can submit images of renderings of their un-built and fantasy projects across three square-footage categories. The winners will have their designs developed into virtual spaces by Invent Dev and exhibited using virtual reality headsets at IIDEXCanada 2015 in Toronto. Winners will also be featured on ArchDaily and flown to the 2015 awards ceremony.

IIDEXCanada and The Buildings Show are North America’s largest annual exposition, networking and educational event for construction, design, and real estate professionals.  

Learn more and find out how to enter the competition after the break.  

The Indicator: Kickstarting Architecture's Virtual Future

And secrets they must be because Kemp’s little company, Digital Physical, has kept under the radar, housed away in some nondescript loft space in Los Angeles. What Mr. Kemp and his bearded acolytes have developed is something so simple, so obvious, and yet utterly revolutionary. It’s one of those inventions that all architects are soon going to realize they need - and clients will soon start to expect. 

Robert Miles Kemp is going to be one of 2014’s Innovators of the Year. Mark my words. If I worked for Autodesk, I’d be calling him up right about now - or at the very least trying to steal his secrets.

The “it” is Spacemaker VR, architecture’s first virtual reality system made for designers. Yes, you have to wear a VR headset, but you won’t care if you look like a dork because you (and your big clients) will be blown away by the fact that you’re looking, flying around a 3D model of a future-space - all while being firmly in the present.