The future of architecture has to be virtual lifestyle
Renders, 3D animations, digital catalogues and virtual reality… The Archviz boom (Architectural Visualisation) has only just begun.
It would be impossible to guess exactly how obsolete traditional CAD technology (Computer Assisted Design) has become in managing architecture projects, but what we do know is that Building Information Modelling (BIM) – which generates and manages building data in 3D and in real time – is here to stay.
When it comes to harnessing technology to improve project management and processes, leading architects don’t want to be left behind. But an image still means more than a thousand words, and you can now create spaces in 3D that feel so “real” that it’s hard even for the human eye to see the different between reality and fiction. And this is where studios specialising in architectural communications come into play.
“When it comes to rendering projects, our sector has a number of micro-niches: agencies dedicated to MattePainting, others are more of a ‘full-service’ (as we are) and yet more that work with video game engines. These are all good options is they manage to close projects, or give customers the information they need to get more work done” explain architects Jorge Esteban and Fran Crespo, at the forefront of 3D Nbucle, a specialist in digital photography.
Digital architecture that breaks barriers
All new virtual tools or technologies are equally valid if they aim to narrow the digital divide. This is why studios like Nbucle have evolved to fit with the architecture of the future. Or perhaps we should say the present, because in the case of these two architects specifically, they’ve gone from creating renders (their most-requested work) to being a specialist architecture communications agency – in the space of just five years. An agency that could amaze you with stunning 3D animations (with fireworks exploding on the horizon next to a perfectly decorated terrace) or give you virtual reality goggles to take a virtual tour of the building. This is why they always have programmers in their team, who can create virtual tours for the Nbucle Experience. It allows them to have full quality control over their work, without having to pay monthly fees to other platforms.
For Esteban and Crespo, renders are now more essential than ever. They allow for accurate marketing of an architectural project, and virtual reality can be used to explore new sales channels that are much more effective than traditional ones, and can even help to overcome technological barriers in their target audience. “The technologies being developed most today are a hybrid between online use and virtual reality at the point of sale. Having said that, the virtual tours we’re working on are an impressive experience – both online and with VR goggles. They allow you to immerse yourself in the space, and anyone can get a feel for the dimensions, heights, features, etc. of their future project” continue the Nbucle representatives.
The fundamental benefit of a virtual reality experience is the way you can get a feel for the space, something a plan or basic render could never do. The technology could also prove to be a great ally in interior design. It could be used to check how different materials look on floors or walls in different spaces, or to try out different pieces of furniture or decorative elements.
Jorge Esteban and Fran Crespo are clear in their convictions: “It’s much better to make decisions in 3D, where you can always easily press “Control+Z”… before you’re on site, where any mistakes you make can entail significant costs. We can now reproduce any material, light and item of furniture in detail… it’s often confusing to work out which is photography and which is 3D”.
The confusion is so stark that ‘unreal’ virtual feelings can awaken very real feelings: “Any type of purchase – even buying a home which we normally approach in a rational, considered way – has an element of love for the project. Giving your customers the best tools to help them fall in love is fundamental”, conclude the architects, who have no doubt that the homes will ultimately be rented and purchased digitally.
The virtual world of Porcelanosa Group
For a number of years, PORCELANOSA Group has been committed to going digital to achieve a sustainable business transformation. José Ballester is head of digital at Porcelanosa, responsible for creativity, multimedia and social media communications, amongst others.
Being able to offer customers the chance to visualise the final result of their project is one of the department’s key objectives, and the new group website features a room planner and online archive which includes all the catalogues for their latest collections. You can also enjoy 360 degree virtual tours from your computer, viewing various showrooms from PORCELANOSA Group brands. Textures, finishes, sizes… everything is just a click away in these virtual exhibitions, thanks to this new and intuitive digital tool.
Another innovation, as Ballester explains, is the immersive experience which has revolutionised our central facilities in Vila-real: a virtual cube customers can enter to choose products and materials and then subsequently apply them to a space, so they can see the final (digital) result as though they were actually in the project. This gives PORCELANOSA Group the ability to test out the customers true preferences and needs in just minutes, by looking at everything they choose and apply.