AR for Architectural Design
Augmented Reality, Unity
Content Creator/ Render
Explore, research, and design an AR tool that could expand architectural design education's best practices, and benefit students and educators.
Students in architectural design schools all share the same problem when it comes to a project review. Going through the design process from the conceptual stage to mid-review to final presentation, a variety of existing problems were discovered including the high cost of time and money, insufficiency in delivering information and inefficiency for reaching deliverables.
The amount of time that takes to produce high quality floor plans, section drawings, perspectives and physical models is very long.
It is hard to convey information through the traditional method of presenting an architectural project like drawings and sketches.
The difficulty to have all the required deliverables for the final presentations when they are through different mediums and platforms is very significant
The survey was conducted among 15 interior design and architectural design professionals about the comments and feedback on how AR could affect architectural design projects for education.
Reflecting on the feedback, Even though the majority of the professionals believe there is huge potential in how AR can benefit architectural design projects not only for education but also for commercial/ enterprise usages, there is still a general concern about the accessibility and the insufficient knowledge of AR. From there, decisions and development needed to be made to ensure the elements and platforms that work the best for this scenario.
I believe traditional drawing gives a baseline of understanding how to read a design. Traditional drawing is a “language” through which agreed upon conventions give light to an individual design. I do not think drawings or models should go away. That being said, I see how AR could enhance those traditional modes of drawing as well as act as further explanation that just drawing could not fully explain.
AR would distinguish my project from conventional means of presentation, leaving an impression that extends beyond the contents of my work. It would be very excellent. If it is accessible, it would open up more avenues throughout the foundation, design, development aspects of a project.
Having virtual spaces and models would greatly improve presentations. They can be similar to physical models but with much more detail done in less time. Even though following plans and sections are important, having a virtual visual environment where one can adjust different viewpoints can be more efficient in showing the overall design concept so we are not limited to only a few perspectives.
Define & Ideation
Defining Opportunities for AR
According to the research and interviews, what are the potential opportunities that can be adapted with AR to reach the goal?
Conceptual development: The complexity of the thought process, which is difficult to be expressed through 3D forms in augmented space.
Scholar research: The majority of the content is research and text-based, which is better presented through the verbal presentation.
Precedent research: The majority of the content is research and text-based, which is better presented through the verbal presentation.
Diagrams: Contents include a lot of graphic representation of ideas and concepts. There is potential for it to be adapted in AR space but not so useful
Physical scaled models and mockups: One of the most commonly shared elements that can be adapted with AR to help save the cost of time and money exponentially. According to the interviews, an average of $500-1000 and 2-3 weeks of time are needed for purchasing materials and building the physical scaled models and mockups. AR would be a great solution to present 3D model overlay to more efficiently present their projects.
Presentation drawing sets: One of the other most commonly shared elements that can be adapted with AR to save the cost of time and money. According to the interviews, an average of $200-500 and 1-2 weeks of time are needed for drafting out all required drawings sets and printing them in scaled on huge plots/ paper (usually 6' by 10' for each review) AR would be a great solution to present drawings overlay.
Perspectives and renderings: One of the other most commonly shared elements that can be adapted with AR to better convey information. According to the interviews, overlay images and 3D models and potentially on-device VR can be extremely helpful to present and convey detailed spatial ideas better than flat images.
Construction drawing sets: The technicality and accuracy of the construction drawings have to be presented through the conventional way of crafting：drawing and printouts
Iteration and revision: There are huge contingency and hands-on aspects in designing iterations and revision, which might not be the best element to be adapted with AR.
The aim is to use AR through a mobile application as a presentation method as simply and intuitively as possible. Once the solution is applied, the user will have no more waste in time and cost in printing drawings sets and building 3D physical models; the user will also present their architectural design in a more detailed and dimensional method.
Sketching out ideas
Prototype & Playtest
The 3D model was created in 2018 for one of my early interior design projects “Revealing Connections”. The model was brought into Unity for high-fidelity prototyping.
AR development in Unity
Understanding of basic pipeline of using vuforia Engine. The initial idea was using one of my physical paper models as the target, which I have tried with object target and model target. Neither of them was stable enough for the final performance I needed. From there, Image target was selected as the target detection method.
Animation sequence was created for the interaction portion of the app.
Unity UI/ Level Design:
Following the IA and the wireframe, all UI, scenes, and levels are connected and animated for the final performance.
After playtesting, users shared common feedback of the possibility of adding a VR feature into the experience for them to visualize and see the actual model space. The VR feature was added where users can select anchors on the floorplan that leads them to the VR space of the model.
Just a quick scan of a floor plan on paper, you will be given a menu bar to select all augmented features.
An exploded 3D model with materials attached will appear for users to understand the design language better.
A series of interior renderings of the space can be viewed to better visualize the space.
Select the different location on the augmented map, you will enter a mobile phone VR scene of the space.