Architectural representation is the medium through which a project is expressed before its construction. Today, the range of possibilities for the implementation of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) improves representation methods, making communication easier and putting spatial knowledge within the reach of millions of people.
Until half a century ago, traditional methods for expressing architecture were based on technical drawing. Its improvement provided the tools needed to create a common language among professionals, its greatest limit being spatial expression. Bruno Zevi, one of the most important historians and critics from the 20th century, spoke about overcoming obstacles by complementing architectural education with photographic technological advances.
In his book How to Look at Architecture (1948), he breaks down the advantages and disadvantages of graphic representation elements. According to his theory, drawing representations lack the depth needed to explain the complexity of space. Even with the existence of photography, effusion was still perceived as insufficient due to the inability of being able to “live all the spatial stages of architecture successively”. With the invention of the cinematograph and later video, Zevi considered the tools to teach in a space without visiting it, completed.
The discovery of cinematography has a powerful reach for the representation of architectural spaces, because if it is applied well, it practically solves all the problems posed by the fourth dimension. -Bruno Zevi
Over 70 years after this book was written, we have technological advances that allow us to even experience a representation of space in real time. The development of VR and AR has allowed for spatial experimentation outside of the boundaries Zevi deemed possible, not only within the field of education, but also for planning and in communication between architects and clients.
Architect – client communication
For people who have been reading architectural plans for years, the understanding of a project is something easy; however, its reading may be confusing for a client. The result of this line of communication is usually ineffective and leads to false expectations or misunderstandings. Presenting a project through virtual tours, to complement the technical information, will improve visual communication between the professionals and the users. The precision of the display with regard to the final outcome reduces expenses generated from changes made and therefore, from waste of resources.
Preview of geographic data
The GIS platform (Geographic Information System) is in charge of providing geographic reference data which, when combined with AR technology, makes it possible to visualize infrastructure systems, geographic and geological data of a place in real time. The analysis of a given land will be significantly simplified, especially in places like Mexico, where the information available provided directly from municipalities and city halls is scarce or not specific enough. A recent initiative is the development of vGIS and AuGeo, platforms that use geospatial data resources by the company ESRI. The AuGeo app has been used for disaster prevention, like the 2019 floods in Brazil, where thanks to preventive technology, emergency operations were guided to create efficient rescue strategies.
Education and Culture
As mentioned before, it was believed that education and the understanding of the architectural space depended on visiting the place. By using augmented or virtual reality, it is possible to visit architectural monuments without the need for travel. Cultural implementation of this technology has allowed for millions of people to know important buildings like Gaudí’s Casa Batlló in Barcelona (Spain). As the means to give life to nature’s metaphors, abundant in the building, an AR system was made accessible for visitors through an app. Casa Batlló also offers a virtual tour, which can be accessed from any browser