Thesis Instructor: Hernan Diaz Alonso
Year: 2021 Summer
Drawings have always been understood as fundamental tools for architects to deliver their design concepts, thus communicating with their audiences. In this thesis, the project examines the role of Virtual Reality (VR) in spatial design. Through a series of practices in freehand "drawing" - to draw, to model, and to sculpt in the 3-dimensional nature in various VR platforms, the project will demonstrate benefits and limitations that VR contributes to
the design process of an architectural project. The project will aim at establishing a set of back-and-forth workflow between VR and computer design interfaces, which would utilize the strengths in the two platforms, and enable architects to implement the use of VR into their design process.
Speculating on the rebuild of the Glasgow School of Art as a case study for the design of the project, the thesis would propose a new school building for the site that re-imagines educational spaces of this era. The project will be testing the use of VR in three different stages- firstly, the use of VR as a drawing tool, to read and translate 2D drawings to 3D forms; secondly, the use of VR as a design tool, to model and design in real-time within an
immersive built environment; and thirdly, the use of VR as a narrating tool, to narrate the embodied walk-through experience within the building on VR platforms.
The project began by looking into conceptual drawings done by various architects, thus translating and bringing to life in 3D the 2D formal qualities contained inside these drawings, through the act of virtual modeling. This practice of re-drawing 2D illustrations into 3D forms through body motion on VR is an examination of how 2D information can be perceived differently on VR to conventional computational software.
The project then draws attention to a series of back-and-forth practices on composing and re-modeling between the VR and computer interfaces. At this stage, the project would demonstrate how designing and modeling in VR would allow for quick and in-situ decision-making when designing. The project aims at establishing a workflow between these two platforms that not only respect traditional design mechanisms in architecture, it also offers new design opportunities for its users- to think not only as designers but also as audiences throughout their embodied design experiences.
The project will lastly test the ability of VR to display and narrate immersive walk-through experiences within the built environment of the project. Through "drawing" and animating on the software Quill VR, the project questions the possible use of VR to build scenes and provide a participatory experience to its audiences, thus imagining its potential use as new means of digital representation for architectural projects.
As architecture is shifting towards a non-static and non-physical form of experience, this thesis would aim at envisioning ways for architects to integrate VR into their toolkit. Through experimenting with the designing and narrating aspects of Virtual Reality, the project explores the impacts VR technology could have on the way we think and design architectures conventionally, pushing it beyond space and time constraints.