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Virtual Reality and Architecture -In Theory and

The introduction of new technology is often a complex process that retains strong ties with the
cultural context into which the technology is introduced. We live in the computer age, yet the
process of its unfolding is far from permitting us the ability to understand the full potential of
its impact.
With respect to architecture, the computer as a medium for long-distance design collaboration,
visualizing negative space as a problem-solving strategy, requiring code compliance software,
and as a graphic grammar system that generates designs for human interpretation has become
a great inspiration and practical tool for architects and other artists.

Defining Virtual Reality

Virtual reality can be defined as a three-dimensional, computer-generated simulation in which
one can navigate around, interact with, and be immersed in another environment. Virtual
reality is a simulated medium in which we can interact with a virtual model in real-time. Virtual
reality is not just a set of devices, but a medium for expression and communication.

Need and Understanding

Historically architecture has always struggled with this dialectic of the real and the virtual,
where the stability and actuality of architecture is tempered by the poetic and the ineffable
nature of meaning and experience.
The electronic revolution has supplanted the industrial revolution. It is relatively recently that
offices and "paperless studios" use computers not only as a tool, but also as creative devices
capable of generating unconventional design ideas and forms for the built world. The long held
conventions of architecture, space, and time, are being challenged as the digital supersedes the
real. It has hence revealed that spaces are physically and metaphysically charged with the
desire to transform, transmutate, and transfold itself.
Virtual environment can represent any three-dimensional world that is either real or abstract.
These virtual worlds can be animated, interactive, shared, and can expose behavior and
However real the physical world is ... the virtual world is exactly as real and achieves the same
status, but at the same time it also has this infinity of possibility.This technique is invaluable to
modern architects, as it allows them to simulate most scenarios that they will encounter during
the design, construction, and eventually the life of the structure they are attempting to build.
Cyberspace as whole and networked virtual environments in particular, allows not only to
theorize about potential architectures informed by the best of current thought, but to actually
construct such spaces for human inhabitation in a completely new kind of public realm.


To understand how the digital media offers designers new ways of exploring and
changing concepts of space and time.
Understand the basic differences and similarities between the virtual world and the
real world and real space and virtual space


To study the use of advanced computer applications (virtual reality) in the creation of
new spatial sensibilities enabling architects to challenge the most fundamental
principles of structure, order, and human perception.
To study the application of virtual reality techniques as not being limited to its current
use in entertainment or gaming industry but its applications in architecture right from
the design conceptualization to final construction stages.
To study the utilization of varied dimension of Virtual Reality technologies for an
effective dialogue between the architect and the client/user.
To study the latest development of architecture in the virtual world.


The scope of the study is twofold-looking at design of edifices in the virtual world or
cyberspace which denotes the theory while the application of virtual reality
technologies into real architectural design process shall be the praxis.
Looking at how the use of virtual reality changes the way we learn about space and the
way we communicate our insights to others and how it promises to facilitate wider
understanding of the built environment.
Uses of virtual reality to prototype designs and consider different alternatives.
Virtual reality is also being used to simulate and test other conditions that involve the
dynamic operation of buildings and infrastructures. These conditions include the
movement of people, the movement of transportation and the operation logistics.
Architects are becoming interested in the use of virtual reality for the design of virtual
space itself and they are exploring virtual cities and inhabited worlds.


Virtual reality and the technologies associated with it are vast, thus for the purpose of
this study it shall be restricted to those technologies used only for architecture.
Virtual realitys application is abound in other fields of design such as urban design too.
But studying its applications for urban projects is beyond the scope of this study.

(*Praxis (process) - the process of putting theoretical knowledge into practice)

Virtual reality and the built environment - Jennifer Whyte
The Promise of Virtual Reality., From John C. Briggs, Vol. 30, The Futurist, 09-01-1996