21st November 2001
Architecture students in Hull are pioneering a new way of looking at building designs by borrowing technology from the computer games industry.
Three final-year students at the Hull School of Architecture have used 3D games software to produce an interactive presentation of a housing scheme in India.
And they say the technology – which allows users to walk round the designs, open doors and even climb up walls – is probably unique in architectural practice.
“It’s more interactive than a simple virtual reality fly-through,” said student John Blanchard (30), from Winterton near Scunthorpe. “With this software you can actually decide where you want to go – the client can look around and explore the building in real time, and even climb up walls and look over the edge.
“You can also use it as a tool to find problems and clashes between structural elements, change the time and the light quality and even alter the décor, the external appearance and the configuration of the walls, doors and windows.”
Fellow student Keir Taylor (29) from Riby near Grimsby says the idea is a revolutionary one. “It’s very unusual for an architect to use a game engine to visualise architecture,” he said. “To our knowledge this idea has not been used in architectural practice before, as there are very few links between the two industries.”
John, Keir and Ethiopian student Merachew Mersha were commended for their work at the recent industry-sponsored Oasys awards for engineers and architects.
Their real-time 3D interactive design presentation was based on a self-build housing scheme at a World Heritage Site in Khajuraho, India.
The software is set to be used to teach developmental and environmental issues to schoolchildren, and the students are keen to hear from businesses which might allow them to develop the idea.
“We think there are companies out there who will want to take the project forward as the next level of presentation and interaction between client and architect,” said John Blanchard. “Ordinary people find it difficult to interpret plans, sections and even 3D images because they don’t give you a real sense of what the space is like. This software is really useful in helping people to understand what designs will be like.”
Notes to editors:
Dr Carl O’Coill of the Hull School of Architecture has been researching game engine technology for the past two years.
The first aim of the research was to examine the use of ‘first-person’ game engines in architectural visualisation to help people in the community without any architectural training to better understand proposed building designs. This work is intended to contribute to the School's MA programme in Participatory Design.
The second aim of the research was to look at how ‘real-time strategy’ game engines, (for example, those used in games such as ‘Sim City’) might be used as educational tools to help young people understand the complexities of development and environmental issues at both a global and a local level. This work is intended to contribute to the MA programme in Post-Development Studies and for external consultancy work carried out by staff at the Hull School of Architecture.
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