February 12, 2020
Twinmotion helps KA DesignWorks fine tune archviz designs with VR walkthroughs
The team at KA DesignWorks has been using interactive archviz tool Twinmotion for three years, pairing it with the HTC VIVE to leverage the software’s powerful VR capability. “Still renderings are great,” says Andrew Chaloupka, Architectural Visualization/VR Specialist at KA. “Video is great. But neither can convey the sense of space and scale that VR can.”
Recently, the studio worked on a project to reinvigorate an intriguing building with spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains. Harnessing the power of Twinmotion, the team sped up the client review process exponentially—and used the software’s compelling VR functionality to make improvements to the designs that could have gone unnoticed in 2D renders.
Seeing designs in a new light with VRThe White Horse Springs Lane project centered around a house that was well-known locally for its unique architecture. Located close to a rural road, the original house was designed in the 1990s in the style of Ricardo Legorreta, and the structure felt incongruous with its surroundings.
KA DesignWorks’ new design for the property began as a conceptual project, and evolved into a development proposal to reinvent the building. A number of interesting features that included multiple exterior rooms formed by the various wings of the plan, along with stunning mountain views, meant there was huge potential for development.
The studio’s plans for the property aimed to open up the house to the impressive mountain vista, create a stronger connection to its context through a new palette of materials and textures, and make the most of the outdoor spaces to increase the usable area of the plot. Deliverables included still images as well as video, which were to be used primarily to convey interior design direction, as well as satisfy marketing requirements to drum up interest in the project.
For all its projects, KA starts by building a highly detailed and coordinated 3D model using Graphisoft’s ARCHICAD BIM software. The team can then import this model into Twinmotion to offer VR design review using the ARCHICAD Direct Link, which enables one-click synchronization between Twinmotion and ARCHICAD.
By enabling architectural designers to go from 3D model to VR without any technical expertise required, Twinmotion puts compelling immersive walkthroughs into the hands of everyone, regardless of their previous VR experience. “The controls are very intuitive and the results are impressive right out of the box, without an enormous amount of training,” confirms Chaloupka.
The team has always used 3D software for renderings and animations, but a lack of VR functionality meant it needed another piece of software to take projects to the next level. “When viewing a 2D rendering or floor plan, clients often think they have a good grasp on what they’re seeing,” explains Chaloupka. “But as soon as you put on the headset, they instantly have feedback when a window is too big, a hallway is too narrow, or a ceiling is too high. This type of feedback cannot be garnered in a 2D world.”
Revealing areas for improvementThe ability to assess designs at human scale in an immersive environment ended up having a huge impact on the White Horse Springs Lane project. In one instance, the designers were evaluating the use of glass in a detached section of the house that was originally used as a caretaker’s unit.
The initial design simply called for the replacement of the existing windows. “Using Twinmotion’s VR capability, it became clear that a much grander statement could be made with larger expanses of glass,” says Chaloupka. “By increasing the glass and connecting the unit to the main structure, we were able to create a multi-level spa that truly stood out.”
In a second review session, the stakeholders were evaluating the pool. While the initial design started with just a simple lap pool, it became clear upon experiencing the design in VR that it needed something else. “The final design incorporated an integrated hot tub and multiple tiers in the pool,” says Chaloupka. “We were able to actually ‘get in the pool’ to place and scale all of the individual elements, as if we were on site.”
Improved ROI and reduced feedback loopsAs well as improving the final designs, using VR for client and stakeholder reviews has had positive repercussions for the bottom line on KA’s projects—both for the studio and its clients. “Rather than going back and forth with clients on certain details, one trip through the project in VR brings up any issues instantly which can be resolved there and then,” says Kenneth Adler, Principal Architect at the studio. “This obviously saves vast amounts of time, which in turn saves money for both the client and ourselves.”
What’s more, clients are increasingly enthusiastic to experience these VR walkthroughs. “We noticed that once they had given it a try, a large percentage of our clients wouldn’t leave a subsequent meeting without putting on the goggles,” says Chaloupka. “Once they saw the potential, they were hooked.” The studio has even been contacted to set up demonstrations for other architectural firms curious about the process, hardware, and software.
For Chaloupka, one of the most exciting things about using VR in architectural design is how quickly the technology is advancing—and how the barriers to entry have lowered. “Now that the hardware can actually keep up with the vision of the designer, at a reasonable cost, it can become the tool it has always wanted to be,” he says. “With the near future already looking so exciting, I can only imagine what we’ll be doing in 10 or 20 years, and I can’t wait.”
Want to create VR walkthroughs of your own architectural designs in just a few clicks? Download Twinmotion for free through early 2020!