Meet Trezi: the VR-first architectural design visualization and collaboration platform
This disconnect between expectation and final result is what architects Tithi and Gautam Tewari were trying to overcome when they conceived of Trezi. Trezi is a virtual reality platform that brings together all stakeholders in the architectural design process and enables them to collaborate better, thanks to its fully immersive virtual environment powered by Unreal Engine.
The creators believe their approach could potentially have a huge impact on the industry. “It will be the way the future generations of AEC professionals work,” says Tithi Tewari, co-founder of Trezi.
Tackling an age-old architectural design problemTrezi is developed by SmartVizX, a virtual reality company based out of the National Capital Region in India. The platform was created in response to a challenge the company’s co-founders had repeatedly come up against over the course of their 40 years of accumulated experience working as architects in the APAC region: the age-old problem of inefficient and ineffective design collaboration between architects, designers, clients, and building product manufacturers.
“The current methods and tools available to help these stakeholders communicate, understand, and experience design are inadequate,” says Gautam Tewari, the company’s other co-founder. “This leads to delays in decision-making, lengthened project time, cost overruns, and a gap between what clients expect from the design and what they ultimately get.”
The team believes that immersive technologies like virtual reality enhance design understanding and communication by enabling everyone on the project to experience the design in an immersive, interactive, and intuitive manner—at full scale.
After spending nearly two years providing services for leading real estate developers, property portal owners, architects, and manufacturers, the Tewaris realized that what their customers really wanted was the ability to generate VR content themselves, and to use that content to improve the way they work with other stakeholders.
A VR-first design collaboration productWith its service-oriented architecture, Trezi is a hybrid SaaS product that aggregates a range of services running on the cloud. These include data storage, file data conversion, catalog management, user subscription management, and multi-user collaboration.
At the heart of the software is the TreziViewer application, which loads data from the web services and provides an immersive and collaborative design experience for users. TreziViewer is powered by Unreal Engine, and relies on its runtime procedural mesh support and physically based rendering to create realistic renderings of 3D CAD data models in both VR and non-VR modes, without compromising performance.
The difference between Trezi and most other design visualization tools lies in the collaborative, VR-first nature of the platform. Many similar tools are for a single user (typically an architect or designer), built for desktop, and focused on design presentation. While a VR option might be included for an immersive walkthrough, most of the features are available only in desktop mode and therefore most of the work is done on the desktop. Other products are designed as plugins to existing 3D modeling software, where changes to the design usually need to be made in the authoring software and then viewed in the desktop/VR visualization tool.
By contrast, Trezi is a VR-first design collaboration product that enables multiple project stakeholders to experience the design at full scale, and make and save changes in real time, all in an immersive VR environment. “Trezi runs independently of your CAD modeling software, and converts a variety of 3D CAD modeling software files into its workspace with one click,” says Tithi Tewari. “You don’t need to have any 3D modeling software running on your desktop to experience Trezi. The focus is on multi-user design collaboration in VR—we have deliberately traded photorealistic visualization for better collaboration, better performance, and a rich set of VR functionality. With Trezi, you don’t have to go back and forth between your authoring software and VR tool. Users don’t need to have high proficiency with modeling software and therefore the platform addresses a wider user base of architects and designers.”
On top of this, Trezi also facilitates interactions between the designer, end customer, and building product manufacturer by offering virtual 3D catalogs of manufacturers’ building products such as furniture and lighting, which can be placed in the architect or end customer’s virtual design.
From archviz to product designCustomers in the AEC industry tend to use Trezi for immersive design presentation, design communication, and interactive design review. However, the team has also seen the platform put to use beyond this core set of tasks.
“Trezi has enabled building product manufacturers to help their customers understand how products will look and feel before they are manufactured, supplied, and installed,” says Gautam Tewari. “Errors, omissions, or oversight—especially due to a lack of customer understanding—that could have resulted in higher costs, are addressed at the product specification stage, resulting in significant savings.”
Similarly, archviz users have taken the product and expanded its use to match their own requirements, with interesting results. “During evaluations, potential customers have started loading large models of townships, campuses, and even infrastructure projects in Trezi,” Gautam Tewari continues. “We were really surprised, and pleasantly so, as to how trouble-free this unexpected use case turned out to be.”
A case in point is the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC), a joint venture between the Government of India and several northern state governments, which has used Trezi for specific tasks in its workflow for developing large public-transit areas.
“NCRTC creates high-speed rail corridors connecting New Delhi to satellite towns,” Tithi Tewari says. “The design team found Trezi to be very useful in the design process for its train stations. They loaded the BIM model of a new, high-speed, high-capacity commuter service in India’s National Capital Region into Trezi. The process was so smooth and the results so encouraging that NCRTC picked up multiple subscriptions of Trezi immediately and has now introduced VR into its design review process.”
The SmartVizX team will be demoing Trezi at the Build: London ’19 event on September 25, 2019. To try Trezi out for yourself, get a free trial. To experience the power of Unreal Engine, download it for free today.