• David Gull

Scale Models - Tabletop or Virtual?


Architects and real estate developers spend a lot of time describing and pitching properties that are not actually built yet with people who are unable to visualize complex 3D structures in sufficient detail.

For a very long time, architects and real estate developers have been using architectural models, commonly referred to as scale models or, dollhouses, to help visualize in three dimensions the scope of a project and to communicate its layout and spatial inter-relationships.

Typically made of wood, foam, plastic, cardboard, or various materials used in 3D printing, architectural models are an attempt to provide a sense of the property being proposed/developed and to a limited extent, a sense of their inner spaces.

While physical architectural scale models do a a very good job when it comes to providing visual perspectives that can’t be achieved by drawings, paintings, or even 3D renderings, they have plenty of limitations:

  • They are hard to move. Often they are even too delicate to move

  • They are expensive to make and even more expensive to iterate on

  • They are time-consuming to make

  • Even larger models provide only a very limited “inside” perspective. They don’t provide an immersive experience - one still has to imagine being inside them. Further, they don’t really provide freedom of exploration.

To overcome the limitations of scale models, architects and real estate developers are better served by leveraging the immersive power of Virtual Reality (VR).

Benefits of VR Dollhouses

VR offers architects and real estate developers many tangible benefits over traditional physical architectural models.

Immersive high quality VR experiences enabled by headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have opened the doors to life-like VR dollhouses that are able to connect at an emotional level with developers, clients, and financial investors.

  • VR dollhouses provide a sense of presence: VR has the uncanny ability to make people feel as if they were really physically present in the virtual environment. Current VR technology has advanced enough to deliver a real feel for the layout, space, and depth of a property. VR simulations of properties can take place at any time of the day or night, and the technology makes it possible to fly through a property, zooming in and out, without taking a single step in the real world.

  • VR dollhouses are convenient: It takes a lot of time to showcase even a single property, let alone five or ten, and physical architectural models are notoriously hard to transport. VR allows developers and realtors to showcase properties at events or tradeshows. And because it’s software, it’s inherently scalable - a digital model can be replicated infinitely with no additional cost, so rather than limit a showcase to a single physical model location, multiple showcases can easily be implemented. Because VR properties are computer-generated, they can be modified right on the spot, making it much faster, cheaper, and easier to iterate on design.

  • VR dollhouses decrease development risk: Property purchases are largely driven by decisions based on emotions. Unlike rational reasons, emotions are fleeting, which is why so many potential buyers end up having second thoughts after seeing the property of their dreams in person. VR decreases development risk by helping land buyers earlier in the building process.

In short, VR dollhouses are a no-brainer when it comes to architecture and unbuilt real estate development. Reach out to us at Outer Realm for a demo or call +1-607-237-5362 to learn more and see it for yourself!

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