Heimtextil Blog
New architectural ideas – today!

Numerous best-practice examples, many of which we have already reported on – e.g., Realistic Californian light in a restaurant in Denmark, the Moving furniture using an app for easy room planning and a Projector that replaces numerous objects by projecting them onto a wall – show that modern technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality are already part of our everyday life. At the same time, we also know that the potential they offer is huge and that, in common with architects, many professions are facing major upheavals in the future.

Rethinking architecture

Virtual-reality expert Prof Frank Steinicke of Hamburg University and the ambitious founder of Beyond Matter Studio, Joshua Burkert, agree that architects are in for some surprises through virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Buildings can be planned, constructed and contemplated virtually – all before any costs for production and implementation are incurred. This is not only a great help for architects but also for clients who, by taking a virtual tour of their houses, can gain a clear idea of what has been planned and what to expect.

Joshua Burkert draws attention to a variety of benefits that VR offers architects: “On the one hand, the immersive images in VR offer such a deceptively realistic representation of the architectural environment that architects can approach the planning of a project in a lot more detail and with a lot more enthusiasm for experimentation. You can observe the way the light falls at various times of the day, plan the furnishings from the beginning or simulate what the view from the window will look like.” He also emphasised that, “because it is realistic and three dimensional, the representation of an environment in VR evokes an intuitive response and provides customers with a much more precise impression of what a project will look like, in the end, than any rendering on a 2D screen could.”

Outwit reality for the desired look

Thanks to AR, we can theoretically make our reality look we want it to. Taking this idea further, we can ask whether it would be possible with the aid of VR glasses or even VR contact lenses for someone to turn a plain grey room into, for example, their dream living room or an office with a view of Frankfurt`s skyline. We asked VR expert Steinicke for his opinion. Are VR contact lenses complete science fiction or will they soon be reality? “Contact lenses that can image virtual information already exist. But the quality is far from what is required to be able to present the user with any sort of complex information. On the other hand, all the big tech companies have registered patents for technologies like that and / or been awarded them. So, the era of ‘smart glasses’ is not far away”, says the professor for human-computer interaction.

How real can virtuality be?

“In just a few years, the quality of a VR presentation will have reached a level whereby it is no longer possible to distinguish the virtual world from the real one. This is particularly so in the case of visual aspects. However, we are still a long way from making this reality when it comes to touch, smell or taste”, adds Steinicke.

This means that we will directly experience this process of change and should, therefore, familiarise ourselves with the subject because it will affect us all.

Architects must equip themselves to ensure they can play a role in the future, too.

Visit the next Heimtextil in Frankfurt am Main from 9 to 12 January 2018.


The interviews in full:


Virtual reality & co have long since ceased to be science fiction. We wondered, however, how real the virtual world can become and thus asked virtual-reality expert Prof Frank Steinicke of Hamburg University to talk to us about this subject.


We asked Joshua Burkert, founder of the Beyond Matter Studio about the potential of new digital technologies and about the use of VR/AR technologies in architecture and their advantages and disadvantages.


Photo: Yuganov Konstantin / shutterstock


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