A Future Framework: Virtual Reality as an Architectural Instrument
Architects work within the medium of digital space on a day-to-day basis, yet never truly get to experience the spaces they are creating until after they’re built. This creates a disconnect in the design process that can lead to unexpected and unwanted results. Human perception is a powerful instrument and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies, coupled with more complex digital environments, could enable designers to take advantage of this. Through virtually inhabiting the space they are creating while they are creating it, designers can pre-visualise spatial qualities. These digital tools are experiencing a shift from technology still in development to a fully-fledged research instrument. With a growing level of technical literacy within the architectural discipline they could have the same revolutionary impact that the introduction of computers had in the late-twentieth century. This thesis explores the potential of VR technology for processes of architectural design by assessing their combined ability to analyse a user’s perception of spatial qualities; in particular the sensation of people density within the work environment. Starting with a review of current literature in architecture and perception based science. A framework is proposed by which to assess the impacts of spatial characteristics within an Immersive Virtual Environment (IVE). This is followed by a design-led series of iterative framework developments centred on increasing user immersion within digital space. Through this methodology a greater understanding is obtained of users perceptions of spatial characteristics and of the process required to design iteratively within an IVE framework.