Thinking in Virtual Spaces: Impacts of Virtual Reality on the Undergraduate Interior Design Process

Thinking in Virtual Spaces: Impacts of Virtual Reality on the Undergraduate Interior Design Process

Elizabeth Pober (University of Oklahoma, Norman, USA) and Matt Cook (University of Oklahoma, Norman, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/IJVAR.2019070103

Abstract

Throughout the iterative design process, both students and professionals rely on spatial thinking to develop and simulate these design solutions, but—in most cases—students lack the experience necessary to accurately visualize and translate the real-world scale of interior space. This is primarily because the current tools of representation are noticeably limited to the two-dimensions of visual information viewable on a traditional computer monitor or sheet of paper. The use of virtual reality systems can also support instruction focused on spatial reasoning. An immersive cohabitation of multiple designers within a detailed and complex model – at full-scale, in three dimensions, supports and augments spatial thinking by allowing designers to both conceptualize and reason volumetrically. This article will explore the experiences of the students and faculty using the virtual reality platform, and the challenges and impacts of incorporating full-scale analysis into the student's design process as they relate to scale perception, error recognition, and communication.
Article Preview
Top

Introduction

Effective designers accurately visualize multiple spatial ideas simultaneously in order to work through, evaluate, and build upon various solutions to a given problem. Throughout these iterative design processes, both students and professionals rely on spatial thinking to develop and simulate these design solutions, but - in most cases - students lack the experience necessary to accurately visualize and translate the real-world scale of interior space. This is primarily because the current tools of representation are noticeably limited to the two-dimensions of visual information viewable on a traditional computer, paper, or model mockup. The limited perspective provided by these traditional design media represent a sort of visuo-spatial cognitive tax; mental transformations that are burdensome to students of architecture and design, but which are second-nature to experienced professionals.

Emerging technologies, like virtual reality, present more accessible design and evaluation environments than these traditional design methods by providing a low-cost alternative that represents both depth-of-field and respects the way human bodies move through physical spaces. Insofar the platform is more similar to a real-world viewing experience than CAD, paper, or scale models, virtual reality provides the means to develop the error recognition and scale perception abilities critical to success in the profession. Ultimately, immersive cohabitation allows multiple designers (or instructors and students) to conceptualize and reason volumetrically by partnering within detailed and complex model – at full-scale, in three dimensions.

For this study, virtual reality platforms were integrated into the senior level Interior Design Capstone course as a design analysis and critique tool. Critique sessions were held in immersive full-scale environments simulated with custom designed virtual reality platforms.

The first sessions began with an analysis of the existing spatial conditions (core and shell) of the buildings with additional sessions continuing on through schematic and design development stages of the project. The student presenting their project development acted as the “driver” within the virtual reality platform while one other student and the professor were able to simultaneously experience, study, analyze, and provide feedback about the design during the critique sessions.

This paper presents exploratory data suggesting that relatively low-cost immersive visualization tools - like the Oculus Rift - can be a beneficial spatial representational tool for undergraduate interior design processes by providing a means for accurately visualizing interior spaces. Specifically, the authors found impacts of incorporating full-scale virtual analysis into the student’s design process particularly with design issues related to scale perception, error recognition, and communication.

Complete Article List

Search this Journal:
Reset
Open Access Articles: Forthcoming
Volume 4: 2 Issues (2020): Forthcoming, Available for Pre-Order
Volume 3: 2 Issues (2019)
Volume 2: 2 Issues (2018)
Volume 1: 2 Issues (2017)
View Complete Journal Contents Listing