Teaching Architecture with Virtual Reality Tools

One day, I look forward to teaching an architecture studio that won’t look at all like today’s coursework. This studio of the not-to-distant future will see each student bring their own Virtual Reality (VR) glasses, and homework will have them use Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) techniques to explore their ideas. There will just be a lot more looking around.

Desks will still be messy. Students will still have to make physical models in this studio. Gravity is a unforgiving collaborator. Materials create their own dialogues. Connections are the soul of creative expression.

It turns out that this hopeful day is going to be foreshadowed this semester! Indeed, I’m getting a taste of it next week!

Prof. Nolan and I have established a functioning protocol for exporting architects digital models from standard platforms like 3D Studio Max, Rhino or Revit, through the Unity Gaming Engine, and then through XCode to be installed on iOS devices and experienced in Google Cardboard headsets. We had to become iOS App developers in the process. It was all very exciting.

Prof. Ford and I¬†had our Project Integration Studio¬†students test out their designs by “walking through” the compositions with the VR tool. It was a charged morning class, even without coffee. It warms a professor’s heart to see students so excited. It was even more gratifying to hear them react to their design decisions — from inside their models. “Oh. We’ve got to change this wall! Dude, we can line it up with…” Yes.

I’ve written the Project Integration Studio final requirements. For the first time, my students’ final jury will need to see a physical model, all the standard orthographic drawings, and an immersive model (VR). Then juror comments will begin.

If you’re around NYIT on the morning of December 8, 2015, something really special will be happening. Jurors and students alike will be experiencing simulations of what it’s like to be in the proposals. It is going to be exciting to see how everyone reacts to the changed designs.