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VIDEO: Virtual vision

Luke Mills explains how VR is transforming design proposals into 3D experiences

I’m sure most of us have seen virtual reality (VR) headsets being used for gaming and entertainment. The advancement in VR has really taken off in recent years, and is now being used in a variety of different fields, including: military training, education and sport. NASA uses VR software to control robots on Mars. It has even begun to be used to treat mental health conditions by providing relaxing meditation experiences aimed at reducing stress and anxiety. Excitingly, this software (smartphone-based options particularly) is being increasingly used in architecture and garden design.

VR creates a digital 3D experience that we interact with, and allows the user to instantly engage with the space. They can explore and visualise designs by walking through gardens to see them before a build has even begun. In most cases, a digital 3D model of the site is created first, which can be produced through a variety of different software. The model must then be rendered and exported into a phone VR app.Once this is done, you can simply put your phone into the VR headset and you’re away.

When I’m presenting design proposals using VR, I set the start position to where the client is standing, looking into their garden. The client then uses the headset, instantly transporting them into their new garden. Whether they lookup, down, left or right, the virtual world follows. For large or complex projects, you can create multiple views for different zones of the garden.

It’s such an enjoyable experience for the designer and the client, to immerse yourself in the virtual world and creativity VR allows. The client can instantly understand the design concept, layout, level changes and design features, which is an amazing selling point. Families can be thrilled, all getting a chance to take turns with the headset.

Walk-through video animations can also be very effective, providing another perspective as it takes you through the garden. These can be created and uploaded easily to a tablet or smart device. This software is also brilliant because you can send everything to the client digitally, which allows more opportunities to review and enjoy the proposals.

VR designs can work well with an artistic impression effect, such as various types of sketch and art filters. This gives the designer greater flexibility as the design develops, rather than producing photo realistic renders. This can be achieved by adding sound, wildlife effects, altering the weather and lighting, portraying the passing of time from sunrise to sunset, and even showing how the garden changes through the seasons.

2D plans are essential to capture the overall layout, as well as for the later stages of detailing and planting plans. But when it comes to presenting your design and selling your vision to the client, a single 2D design plan can be very limiting and requires a lot of explanation. Instead, a 3D VR experience makes everything clearer and enjoyably immediate for the client and the designer.

View the video below to see VR in action.

For more information on Luke Mills company The Landscape Service click here.

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