VR in Architecture

Lucia Tian 2022


Currently, th field of architecture relies heavily on renderings, 3d models, and photographs to convey architectural space. However, these methods are unable to convey the true experience of being inside a space. Furthermore, due to the permanence and scale of architectural projects, changing or studying existing buildings is difficult. Virtual reality comes closest to replicating the embodied presence and provides a malleable and low cost replica of existing structures.

Virtual Reality has many applications in architecture practice, education, and history. Since architecture is a highly visual field that already utilizes 3d computer renders, VR application makes a lot of sense. Some software geared towards presenting architectural models in VR are being developed, though used less in the field. Virtual reality allows for an embodied presence in spaces that 2D photographs or viewing 3D models through a flat screen does not allow, closely mirroring the real world.

Linked here is a comparison of different ways to view architectural models in VR.

Types of Data

  • 360 degree spherical images or videos

  • 3D polygonal model data developed in modeling software such as Rhino3d or SketchUp

  • GIS (geographic information system) mapping data

  • BIM (building information modeling) building details for construction


viewing hard to access or lost buildings, studying complex forms, manipulate forms, view from inaccessible angles


studying navigation, memory, and perception in spaces that can be manipulated, test affordances, observe client experience of space


iterating through designs and then testing the spatial experience using VR, immersive client presentations, detect spatial issues, view collisions and design limitations