Virtual Community Immersion

Courtney Brown

The immersion into a community offers several benefits including an understanding of cultural, economical and sociological standards. These are observed, further understood and researched and then put into practice. Large scale community projects are often forget- ting a crucial component of design, researching the community. This new tactic will help make this process alot easier by compiling data into a virtual reality (VR) that allows users to integrate themselves into the space they will be building/ designing on. Through the use of digital medias such as Skype, Google maps, Google earth, VR and statistical hubs. With this information, we can collect an accurate visual representation of a community from anywhere in the world. With the ability to design and build on site allows for an insight on sun direction, surrounding buildings, community demographics and traffic flow. With this information typically being employed in the beginning research phase, it can often be for- gotten as the design evolves. This results in a potentially unsuccessful projects with money and time wasted. With VCI being employed throughout the design phases it can be a solid focus.

Through VCI, a design can be created that not only emulates the community but the de- sign firms interests. With a significantly decreased need for physical model making there is a reduction in material cost and working hours cost. Once VCI has been produced it can then be used to sell that design to clients and community members. Community users can experience what will happen to their neighborhood, this can appease concerns. With many residences in the community having ties and emotional connections, there can be a free ser- vice that the council or company can offer. VR has already had great success with using this technology in the form of selling. Evidence of this is a Vancouver based company called Stambol, with a focus on interiors. Clients can walk through their future homes and get a better user experience.

Designing in VCI will offer many benefits including the creative freedom of sketching with the addition of scale control. Being able to apply detail into a larger scale, all while remain- ing in the same ‘document’. This same sketching can then be used in meetings without the waste of paper and man-power. Companies have already adopted this ease of designing, one such company is Arch Motorcycles. This company uses VR to design custom motor- cycles to suit the ergonomics of the user’s body. This is employed through trial and error. With customisation being a crutial component of this company, the client’s personalisation and satisfaction is vital.

The VCI has amazing potential to make the digital realm as realistic as possible, this will eliminate a potential for loss of human touch.