Advanced 3D Visualization Tech Solutions for Architects That Aim to Be Cutting Edge
Advanced 3D Visualization Tech Solutions for Architects That Aim to Be Cutting Edge

Bit by bit, each day brings some innovations. If we look back over a decade ago, we'll realize that various Sci-Fi movie predictions have become our reality. Numerous modern solutions have affected all industries across all verticals, and architecture has seen its fair share of advancements as well.

A world where robots and drones can construct a building, where holograms have become tangible and solid, a world which allows you to enter the realms of virtual reality and augmented reality in real-time – that's our environment.

However, sometimes it seems that such tech solutions are miles away, although they're readily available, affordable, and in front of our noses. This means that a lot of people are not aware of all the available possibilities.

With that in mind, here are some tech advancements which will allow you to raise architectural visualization to another level. Let's explore and find out how to utilize the cutting edge visualization tech solutions!

3D Printers Can Do More Than Helping Us to Create 3D Maquettes

3D printers have been around for a while, but the way people use them continually changes. Although primarily designed to produce small objects – 3D architectural models – using weak plastic materials, the latest 3D printer solutions are cutting edge technology.

Instead of using only one type of plastic, you can create firm or flexible elements using materials such as ABS, PVA, ASA, PETG, HIPS, PLA, polycarbonate, polypropylene, nylon, and many more.

Tday, you can do lots of things using a 3D printer and you can print whatever comes to your mind, including jewelry, food, medical supplies, prosthetics and bones, braces, musical instruments, fabrics and footwear, spare parts, weapons, furniture, and most importantly, you can 3D print larger structures such as apartments and bridges.

Rapid Prototyping

Similar to 3D printing, rapid prototyping allows you to create basically anything. Already used for testing and even producing construction elements and equipment, rapid prototyping is changing the way we build objects.

Mass production of construction elements created using a 3D printer, as well as the production of the other components, will change the entire industry.

Unlike traditional materials and construction works, building 3D-printed houses by assembling small parts at the construction site will reduce the costs and the time necessary for the entire process – the total costs of these affordable houses are about $7,000, and the work at the construction site can be finished in only two weeks.

World's First 3D Printed Steel Bridge

2018 will be remembered as the year when Dutch robotics company MX3D created the very first 3D-printed steel bridge, which will be placed across a canal in Amsterdam, Netherlands. This 12-meter-long bridge is created from layers of molten steel.

''The lightweight tree-like structure is built on four main bearers. The concern was that if one of these bearers gets hit by a boat, the structure could critically fail,'' explained the company, and they added that they changed the concept due to engineering concerns.

"Therefore a totally new concept was created that took into account everything we learned until then about the material, the local specifications and regulations," they revealed.

World's Largest 3D-Printed Concrete Bridge

Twice longer 26.3-meter-long bridge created using a 3D printing concrete system is the world's largest 3D printed bridge. Professor Xu Weiguo designed this light and elegant piece of the art across the Shanghai Wisdom Bay pond.

To match the structural performance of traditional materials, the bridge's construction was created of 44 hollowed-out concrete sections, made of polyethylene fiber concrete.

These examples are just the confirmation that 3D printing technology is at the beginning of its development. These cutting edge solutions will grow over time! Right now, it seems that in a few years, skyscrapers will be constructed like puzzles in just a couple of weeks.

Virtual Reality

When it comes to the latest tech solutions, we mustn't miss the chance to introduce one of the greatest inventions of the 21st century – virtual reality. Helpful in various processes of architectural visualization, VR will change architecture, as well as other industries, sooner than we can imagine.

Companies in numerous industries, including real estate, gaming, design, film industry, and many more, have already found a way to introduce such a solution. Lots of companies in the architecture industry are already using this futuristic equipment.

Moreover, people are even buying VR headsets for fun. The number of VR headsets sold in 2018 is above 4.6 million units, and the forecasted amount for 2019 is 6 million units.

Now that it’s clear that users are interested in using this technology, we can freely say that architectural visualization companies will start to focus heavily on VR visualization in the coming years. Let’s find out why that is so. Here are the two main benefits of VR.

VR Software – Entering the World of Virtual Reality in Real-Time

Parallel with VR equipment, developers have designed a lot of 3D modeling and rendering software solutions that support virtual reality. Using the latest versions of popular programs such as Autodesk's 3ds Max, architects can enter the world of virtual reality and modify their scenes in real-time.

The process of modeling and adjusting the 3D model using VR goggles allows more precise work and provides architects with the opportunity to feel the entire space before the beginning of the construction works. Plus, creating a 3D model with a VR headset looks much more fun!

Demonstrate Your Projects in the Virtual Reality Environment

After the process of 3D modeling and rendering, it's time for presentation! You can decide on a more traditional way and create images, but, for the best experience, you can create VR animation.

When it comes to presenting your work to clients, you should do your best to amaze them – your colleagues will understand your idea through your technical drawings, but clients and investors will not. Moreover, we can freely say that architectural visualization is the project seller.

VR is the best tool when we're talking about visualization – investors and clients will be able to walk through your design using VR headsets, and you'll be able to fix the potential issues before the beginning of the works, and therefore, save lots of money.

Both you and your clients will be satisfied – it's a win-win solution!

Augmented Reality

Similar to virtual reality technology, but at the same time unique and superior, augmented reality is another pillar of modern architectural visualization. As the overlay of digital content, this sophisticated technology allows people to experience augmented reality using various devices and tools, including smartphones, tablets, and other portable devices, as well as smart AR glasses and headsets.

Although VR equipment is affordable, the situation with AR is even better – instead of buying headsets and glasses, clients can enter the world of augmented reality within a few seconds, as long as the process of app installation lasts.

Since there are numerous apps driven by AR technology, each app works differently. Here are five best AR apps for architectural visualization.

1. ARki

Available for Android and iOS, designed both for design and presentation purposes, ARki overlays 3D models onto existing 2D floor plans. With features such as real-time shadow analysis, material switching, and physics simulation, ARki is a great choice both for visualization and for construction projects. Besides, it’s completely free!

2. Smart Reality

Designed both for VR and VR, Smart Reality is a smartphone app that uses a mobile phone's camera to overlay interactive BIM models, creating 3D visualization. This simple-to-use app allows users to expose structural layers, to zoom, record images or videos, and much more. Smart Reality is available both for Android and iOS devices.

3. Pair

Unlike most of the other AR apps, Pair is a consumer-focused app. Thanks to the extensive and constantly updated furniture catalog, users can add 3D models in a real-world environment and visualize their apartments alone. iOS users can create presentations, allowing users to walk through their brand new designs over and over again.

4. Magic Plan

This free augmented reality app, available both for iOS and Android devices, was created especially for architects and designers, allowing them to draft floor plans using only a smartphone's camera. 2D floor plans can be saved as JPG, PDF, and most importantly, the DXF format. Helpful, right?

5. Augment

Available for iOS and Android devices, Augment is an augmented reality app designed for architectural visualization studios and students. Useful for interior and exterior design visualization, Augment, thanks to its large library, allows you to drop various 3D models, but also to edit, adjust, and share your projects with your collaborators. However, the price ranges from $300 to $1000 per month.

These highly available solutions are still growing, and we are sure that there will be more AR-based apps available. Until then, you should enjoy and explore the possibilities of these great apps!

Mixed Reality

What happens if you combine two advanced technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality? The answer is simple – mixed reality. Merging the best aspects of VR and AR, mixed reality allows users to experience and see the real world, like augmented reality, while also seeing virtual objects from the world of virtual reality.

By “dropping” the virtual objects in the real world environment, mixed reality allows for an entirely new level of architectural visualization.

Present Your Objects in the Real World

After apps such as Pokémon Go attracted numerous users across the globe, clients in the architecture industry have become highly interested in this kind of presentation.

So, what will present your work better than “dropping” your building in the urban environment in real-time? As the most advanced solution, mixed reality can help you show your clients and investors exactly how your building will fit into the landscape without wasting a lot of time on post-production tasks.

Unlike still images that you can create using PhotoShop and similar vector software solutions, mixed reality apps allow you to produce animations.

Boost the Works at the Construction Site Using Mixed Reality Apps

BIM apps supported by mixed reality can help and improve various processes at the construction site, reducing the possibility of any mistakes.

Besides, such mixed reality apps can read various file formats, which means that architects can upload technical documentation (CAD files), as well as renders. Builders can use a mixed reality device to scan the processes at the site, and the app will show them what to do next based on the project details.

Since misunderstandings between the builders and architects often result in failure, mixed reality will improve the level of safety by improving communication.

Holographic Architectural Visualization

As we mentioned, these tech solutions used to be unimaginable just a few decades ago. However, one of the biggest achievement of the new age thus far is doubtlessly the mind-blowing solution called “holographic architectural representation system”.

This easy to store and fast to produce device designed by Zebra Imaging offers full-color holographic visualization, and it can be integrated with commonly used Autodesk's software solutions. The device's thin surface becomes a detailed 3D model, allowing you to present your work to your clients, project investors or colleagues thanks to a halogen or LED light source.

"With our technology and 3D print services, 3D data can be brought out of the computer and into the consumer 3D display market at an affordable price. The partnership is about inspiring creativity and new approaches for visualizing in 3D," explained Brian Hill, GM Zebra Imaging Print Division.

He also said that the main component of their hologram is3D data, and he added ''The development of the Autodesk 123D family of apps provides the tools for mass user-generated 3D content and extends hologram creation capabilities across the globe."

Besides being highly useful and interesting, the best thing about Zebra Imaging 3D Hologram Display is that it's incredibly affordable. You can get your hologram display today for only $49.99!

Touchable Holograms – The Next Level of Holographic Visualization

This might seem unbelievable, but a group of Japanese scientists  from the University of Tokyo, Department of Complexity Science and Engineering has provided us with the technology called “Touchable Holograms”. It's true that even regular holograms are a mind-blowing solution, but there is more.

Without wearing any equipment, you can experience the illusion of touching holographic, unreal items.

Haptoclone works thanks to a synchronized haptic-optical construction in combination with Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display (AUTD) and Aerial Imaging Plate (AIP). When you touch the unreal object, Haptoclone will produce strong pressure, and you'll experience the illusion of touching a hologram in the most realistic way.

Using a “touchable” hologram, architects and designers will be able to present their visualizations in a much more realistic way than earlier.

The Bottom Line

When we consider all the technological achievements mentioned above, we have to admit that it's hard to say which of them is the most helpful in the architectural visualization industry. Each solution can raise the level of hyper-realism, but also to facilitate and improve various processes.

It would be too much to ask for another advanced technological solution, since all those that we have mentioned are incredible. However, we can hope that these tools will become even more affordable and readily available and that the use of these tools and apps will become routine.

Since we have seen that the combination of VR and AR has brought something entirely new and unique, we have to ask you the following thing: Which two of the above-mentioned technological solutions would you combine into one in order to improve the architectural visualization industry? Let us know in the comments!