Sir Christopher Wren is a renowned architect, but it isn’t just his incredible buildings that make him so remembered.

As the Daily Telegraph noted, his sketches of St Paul’s Cathedral show how he created a benchmark for modern architects, introducing mathematical concepts and transforming how the profession was viewed.

Of course, architecture and the industry have evolved greatly since the time of Sir Christopher Wren. But that doesn’t mean it’s always kept pace with the latest technologies.

In fact, as the Architect’s Newspaper discusses, the design and construction industry has traditionally lagged behind when it comes to the adoption of new technology. But that is starting to change.

Practice application development leader for Perkins + Will, Iffat Mai, co-presented a discussion about enhanced realities and immersive experiences at this year’s Tech+ conference.

Speaking to the publication, Mai commented: “What I’ve seen is a shift in some people’s attitude, of designers and project teams, who are very open-minded about accepting these new technologies and integrating them into their workflow and process.”

In particular, Mai believes tech such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will help boost communication and client engagement with projects from the get-go.

While a client may look at a drawing and feel like they understand what they’re seeing, they can often be surprised when they’re stood in the space once its built. This is because, more often than not, clients don’t conceptualise in the same way as architects.

3D technology, AR and VR can help provide a clearer visualisation of a project, leading to a better understanding of the design’s aesthetics, sense of scale, and how the space will actually feel.

By putting the client into an immersive experience, they become more engaged with the process and will often be happier with the final product. Enabling them to better understand the project right from the start also helps to streamline the design and review process, saving time and money.

While the cost of the technology may have once been a barrier, access to VR and AR will become more affordable as the cost of the hardware and software is already starting to drop.

For firms to become truly innovative and for wide-scale adoption of mixed realities, they need to commit to company-wide innovation and embrace change.

Mai concluded: “If you can get over the fear of changing and have kind of long-term sight of the future and not be afraid of changing, that’s a critical component of innovation.”
Do you think there’s a place for VR and AR in the AEC industry?
Innovation needs to be company-wide and businesses need to ensure it is reflected in the culture of the whole organisation.

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