Studio Leader: Ben Waters
Using new computer graphic tools, in Virtual Environments we simulate environmental and building processes.
Actually, the idea of the virtual is quite old. The word comes from VIRTUS, meaning potential or force. More recently, the word has evolved to describe conditions of the digital, interactivity and information. And as our world continues to become more ‘virtualised’, as does our ability to simulate worlds. In VE, we deploy advance 3D graphic engines, building environments using high fidelity 3D scan assets. This is, yes, a form of ‘virtual reality’ – a digitally reproduced computer simulation – but we will think of this more as a virtual process, staging the conditions for the emergence of new realities between site, siting, and building.
At first, we download and deploy highly precise and detailed 3D scan assets of natural environments into real-time render engines. Using this process to develop a deep understanding of site, we sculpt textured terrains, drag and drop rocks covered in lichen and procedurally paint grasses on surfaces – constructing ground. Light and atmospherics can be controlled and adjusted in real time, equating the virtual environment to a kind of film set for architectural production.
This hyper-real/photoreal 3D landscape becomes the protagonist for the VE design project. 5 group projects have been developed investigating 5 Victorian environmental types - grassland, coastal heathland, wetland, semi-arid and volcanic. Using simulation as a motive force of the project, each group has proposed a research centre within or around the landscape environment.