For some time, we’ve been thinking about how to make our work as architects and designers more accessible to the public, particularly at public consultation events. There is a perennial problem that many people are not adept at reading plans and imagining what those spaces and places would feel like.
With the advent of 3D modelling and more sophisticated visuals this communication has improved, and I was really excited to take this a step further by using Virtual Reality (VR) at a public consultation just this week in Reading.
The event had the traditional layout of printed boards explaining the scheme, but for the first-time a selection of immersive 360 degree views loaded onto a VR headset for the public to experience also accompanied these.
The results were overwhelmingly positive, across all generations. From attendees ranging in age from 4 to 74, members of the public were thrilled to experience and perceive the space and place that we were proposing with our scheme.
The VR format of course can’t and won’t replace the printed boards. There is a wealth of information that is essential to giving the public a clear idea of proposals including aerial photographs, context images, opportunities and constraints plans as well as, floor plans showing the scheme, however to communicate the quality of place we are designing, the VR experience is unrivalled.
Our next steps are to integrate the information on the boards with the VR experience at public consultations events and to implement a full VR suite in-house, helping clients and ourselves as designers explore and review design proposals in a fully immersive environment. Meanwhile our Graphic Communication team are developing other interactive ways to bring schemes to life at public consultation events….watch this space!
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Virtual Reality, architecture, public consultation, public engagement