Augmented Architecture

An AR app at Hybrid Architecture.

On Thursday night in an office on 12th and Pike on Capitol Hill, a firm called Hybrid Architecture showed off a nifty augmented reality application created by their intern, Joy Wilson. The event was part of Art Walk and featured stations where one could view 3D models of buildings on smart phones and iPads by pointing them at 2D maps.

The star of the night was Rufus, a scruffy dog belonging to one of the firm’s partners, who wandered through the office with a 360 camera strapped to his back. Attendees were invited to view a 360 movie that Rufus had shot via a Google Cardboard on a string hanging from the ceiling. 

Rufus the Architecture Dog, filming with a 360 camera strapped to his back.

Other Cardboards hanging from the ceiling allowed viewers to virtually walk through various Hybrid projects. Wilson explained, “Each project contained several portals in which the user could move themselves through each building site and explore at his or her own pace. The open source nature of this tech allows it to have an astounding reach in terms of audience and show our buildings in varying degrees of construction completeness in its context which is invaluable as a tool to communicate with clients.”

Wilson believes that architects will continue to be drawn to AR tech because it makes it easier to communicate with clients. “There is something still so undeniably flat about even the most compelling architectural rendering to people outside of the design domain. AR/VR has the ability to describe so many different layers of information beyond a still image–what does it sound like? What does it look like just to the left? What does it look like if I manipulate the scale in real time?  By addressing these questions, AR/VR will be able to answer the question ‘what does it feel like to experience that space?’ and allow people to fully immerse themselves in architectural spaces before they come to fruition,” Wilson said.

It all makes perfect sense to me, and it will be interesting to watch how far firms like Hybrid take this tech. One can only hope that AR will result in buildings that aren’t as boring and dull as the condos currently sprouting on Capitol Hill.