The ARCH


Realtime Cities by Arch Virtual: Welcome to Virtual Dubuque!

Introducing Virtual Dubuque, a premiere development of our new Realtime Cities initiative by Arch Virtual, built with ArchTech Engine.

Read the full post HERE.

This new community resource will provide free and easy to access windows into interactive, customizable 3D models of cities.  To learn more about how we can build a realtime model of your city or architectural project, send us a note here.  We’re currently seeking development partners to build new features, create custom content, and build out additional architecture and cities around the world, so please send us a note to learn more.

Over the past year,we have been partnering with local businesses and organizations in Dubuque, Iowa to develop features and sponsored content, including a project in the Historic Millwork District for a local real estate developer (coming soon!), as well as the Masonic Temple, where international members of Demolay will be working with industry pioneers in developing a world-class learning environment, using Virtual Cities as its core platform.

Read the full post HERE.

“We’re harnessing the same technology used to make the latest iPad apps and XBox 360 games, but we’re not making a game, we’re building dynamic and ever-changing models of cities that are designed to serve as true community resources that can be easily accessed directly from a website,” said Jon Brouchoud, Founder of Virtual Cities.

Using ArchTech Engine and the Unity3D platform, we’re now able to transforms buildings, geography and entire cities into realtime 3D environments that are easily accessible, and can be embedded on your website, or deployed to a tablet.  These interactive models can be geo-referenced to real-world coordinates, dynamically linked to databases, and layered with interactive content.

Virtual Cities by Arch Virtual - urban planning

As visitors explore virtual cities, links to websites and additional information about nearby buildings, parks, and businesses appear automatically.  For example, when you approach a restaurant, you can click through to read their menu.  If you’re near a historic building, you can learn more about its past.  Businesses and organizations can customize and enhance their space in the virtual model, layering it with more information or interactive features.

Read the full post HERE.

Proceeds from sponsorship and custom content are then re-invested in the ongoing development of the city model, enabling Realtime Cities to add more features, build new parts of the city, and refine models with more detail.

But a virtual replica is just the beginning.

Virtual Cities by Arch Virtual - Dubquque Iowa

“If you’ve ever experienced the Voices Gallery in the Millwork District of Dubuque Iowa, for example, you’ve seen how a building can be completely re-imagined into a destination that celebrates the unique architectural character of a place, yet transcends it to become something completely unique,” said Brouchoud.

“That’s really what Virtual Dubuque, and the Realtime Cities initiative is all about.  A replica of the city as it is now will certainly have interesting use cases, but I’m looking forward to seeing how cities can be re-imagined within an environment where anything is possible.”

Read the full post HERE.

Virtual Cities for architectural visualization and urban planning

Read the full post HERE.

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Introducing the ArchTech Engine: Transforming buildings, cities and geography into realtime 3D environments

[Intro video]  I am very excited to announce the launch of our new ArchTech Engine, a technology that transforms buildings, cities and geography into realtime 3D environments that are easily accessible, and can be embedded on your website, or deployed to a tablet.

Read the full post HERE

These interactive models can be geo-referenced to real-world coordinates, dynamically linked to databases, and layered with interactive content.

Transform your architectural drawings and 3D models of almost any format (including CAD and BIM) into information-rich applications that are perfect for architectural visualization, and city planning, as well as learning environments, military simulations, historical recreations, training environments and more. Students can interact within a more memorable learning environment, and achieve much greater retention over reading a textbook. All within a web browser or tablet.

Your application can be customized to suit your project’s specific needs. Make it multiplayer with voice and video communication or a single player experience and add non-player characters or an entire crowd of people to bring it to life.

To learn more about Arch Tech Engine, or to get started on your own project, visit www.archtechengine.com Arch Tech Engine is built on the Unity3D, and was developed in partnership between Arch Virtual and Tipodean Technologies.

Read the full post HERE



$85 million Rutgers School of Business recreated virtually with Unity3D game engine

Construction is now officially underway on the new Rutgers School of Business, designed by the renowned architecture studio Ten Arquitectos (frequently covered by arcspace), but you don’t have to wait until construction is complete to explore the new design!  Arch Virtual recently completed a virtual prototype of the new facility for Rutgers University, replicating the design based on architectural CAD drawings, BIM models and blueprints provided by the architect, then publishing them into realtime 3D with the Unity3D game engine.  See a video preview of the virtual model below, and see some screenshots of the model here.

Read the rest of this post on our new site HERE.

Rutgers University leveraged the best of several virtual platforms throughout design development of this project. In early design phases, Arch Virtual replicated the design in Second Life, which was ideal for recreating the schematic and conceptual models and making the design accessible to students and faculty (seen here).  That model was then brought into OpenSim, where it was integrated into a more comprehensive model of the campus, including more of the context surrounding the Business School’s new building site.

When final construction documents were ready, we interpreted the architect’s CAD drawings and BIM model with Autodesk Maya, that could be brought into the Unity3D game development engine. Rutgers worked with Tipodean Technologies to export their OpenSim islands, including buildings surrounding the new business school. Tipodean converted them into Collada mesh format, along with the textures, which were then added to the Unity3D environment. The final result is a blend of the architectural model alongside meshes exported from OpenSim.

Read the rest of this post on our new site HERE.

With the model in Unity, Rutgers will now be able to embed the virtual model into a variety of formats. For example, they can embed the model directly a website or Facebook page, but could also publish the same model to be accessible from Android or iPad mobile devices, or as stand-alone applications that can be installed on a Mac or PC and run locally without being online, and at full screen.

To follow the progress of the virtual Rutgers School of Business, join the Rutgers University Virtual Worlds facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/ruvw3d

To learn more about how Arch Virtual can translate your blueprints, CAD, or BIM file into a virtual experience, contact us here. http://archvirtual.com/?page_id=3388

 

 

 

 

Read the rest of this post on our new site HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Architectural Simulation, Virtual Architecture and Design Collaboration – it’s all on our new website. Check it out!

City planning 3D walkthrough model

Check out our new site here!  http://www.archvirtual.com

It’s been a while since our last post, but we’ve been hard at work on some new projects we hope to publish soon!  In the meantime, check out our newly renovated website: http://www.archvirtual.com   We’ve made some exciting progress in technologies and methods for bringing architectural and city models into virtual environments, along with interactive features to augment and enhance those models.  We will be posting more about these projects and services soon, so stay tuned!

Here are some pieces from the new website front page:

Architectural Simulation: Import buildings and entire cities into online 3D environments that can be accessed from a browser or embedded directly into your own website.  We use cutting edge game development technology that enables you, your clients, project stakeholders or community members to explore, interact and collaborate within immersive 3D environments that are easily accessible.

Virtual Architecture:  Use virtual environments for long-distance collaboration, education, training, simulation and more.  We create virtual spaces that help organizations achieve greater effectiveness and efficiency for a variety of use cases.  Contact us to learn more about how your organization can make use of virtual environments.

Design Collaboration: Nobody knows how your new building should function and perform better than you.  Being able to witness and participate in the design evolution through interactive workshops, puts you, the end-users of your building, and other project stakeholders in the driver’s seat of the design process.  Instead of waiting weeks to see the results of design changes, see them take shape immediately.  Contact Arch Virtual today to learn more about how we use virtual environments to offer a whole new approach to building design.

Check out our new site here!  http://www.archvirtual.com



Construction of Hurricane Katrina relief project ‘The Porchdog,’ prototyped in Second Life, now complete

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This site has moved to www.archvirtual.com

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Here are several before and after images of the ‘Porchdog’ residence, prototyped in Second Life by the Architecture in Virtual Worlds community.  We built a virtual replica of this original design by Marlon Blackwell Architects, which was published to Open Architecture Network under Creative Commons licensing for an event with Architecture for Humanity founder Cameron Sinclair’s appearance in Second Life.

Second Life prototype and real world construction

During the presentation, Cameron Sinclair described the project:

“The idea is, can we work collaboratively online, in places like Second Life, to respond to issues like Hurricane Katrina.”

He also described some background behind the project:

“…we starting in 1999 basically using email and a web page – and as we’ve progressed and as technology has progress, we’ve embraced new technologies.”

Hurrican Katrina relief - construction

As the fidelity of virtual worlds continues to improve, online virtual environments like Second Life are now capable of producing much higher quality prototypes than ever before.  With realtime shadows, and the ability to import existing 3D architectural models just around the corner, we can expect that quality to improve dramatically in the months and years ahead.

posted on Open Architecture Network

Below is a machinima clip I made of the virtual replication process:

Here’s a machinima by Kiwini Oe, showing a discussion between Cameron Sinclair of Architecture for Humanity and John Gage of Sun Microsystems:

For more information about this project, visit the project’s page on the Open Architecture Network here: http://openarchitecturenetwork.org/projects/232?ob_bw=0

NAME: The Biloxi Model Home Program
PROJECT LEAD: Architecture for Humanity
LOCATION: Biloxi, Mississippi, United States
START DATE: December 02, 2005
CURRENT PHASE: In construction
COST: $138000 USD (Estimated)
SIZE: 1500 sq. ft
BUILDING TYPE: Residential – Single Family

Read the whole story, and more about architecture in virtual worlds at The ARCH Network http://www.archvirtual.com



Real life construction completed on innovative homes prototyped in Second Life

Read the whole story, and more about architecture in virtual worlds at The ARCH Network http://www.archvirtual.com

The Alley Flat Initiative - prototype real life design in Second Life virtual world

If you have any interest or curiosity whatsoever about using Second Life or any other online, 3D, collaborative virtual environment for architectural prototyping or education, this is a must read success story.

Construction has completed on designs first prototyped in Second Life by students at the University of Austin School of Architecture.  The prototypes were the result of a collaboration between Professor Sergio Palleroni’s students and the students of Dr. Leslie Jarmon’s “Communicating Across the Disciplines” graduate course.   Sadly, Dr. Jarmon, who was responsible for orchestrating the virtual presence for the entire University of Texas system, passed away last year.

Second Life prototype of real world design

Professor Palleroni first described his vision for using Second Life in architectural education during a talk with Autodesk VP Phil Bernstein in an event held in Second Life in late 2007. He had this to say to his students,

“I want ideas (from my students) on how we’re going to use this new Second Life to actually expand our exchange in our community.  Becuase, I thought, ‘my God, what a tool – I was so ignorant.’   I was thinking, if I can get people connected,  there might be opportunities for these clients that we’re serving, to actually participate in forums here, where I could get some world class people here, and in Second Life we would all be inhabiting the same realm, I think its fantastic.”

Construction completed on homes prototyped in virtual reality

2 years later, the project became a virtual reality in Second Life, with several Alley Flats homes prototyped.  Upon launching the project, and using it to engage community members, students were equally enthusiastic,

“There’s something extremely ‘right’ about having Alley Flats in Second Life, since Alley Flats is about building community through great design, and the clever use of technology, and that’s what Second Life is all about.  I think we’ve achieved something special, and I really hope that it will live long beyond today, and be useful for many communities all around the world.”

“This will bring people together from from different disciplines, and one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from this project was how relevant Second Life is in both commercial and non-profit markets, and I think its going to be the next huge thing in the industry.”

A Phd student in molecular biology added this,

“Working with this class was a wonderful experience, very different from working in a lab.  It was enjoyable to work across disciplines, and working on this project has provided many opportunities to engage and adapt my communication skills, and because of this, I have gained new perspectives on diversity and teamwork.”

During the launch, Sergio added some insightful remarks,

“I never thought that I would be building in a virtual world, and though I was skeptical, I’m now beginning to become a believer.  I think that at the heart of this, and what unites the real and the virtual world, is the idea that we all share aspirations and ideals that we cannot make possible within any other construct, and so the fact that we are able to, here in Second Life, see how  a city can begin go change, and we can actually show people.. and its fantastic, because we can begin to let people understand what the future might look like.  So I would almost propose that Second Life is not some unreal realm, but in some ways is the future, or a projection of where we’re heading, and a way to dream about the future.”

Dr. Jarmon said,

“Since we started working on this project, so many people have said ‘can we get one, can you build this for us?

Someone asked the students what it was like working in a virtual world.  Here’s what they had to say about it:

“We didn’t know what the possibilities of Second Life were, but now we’re standing here, its just amazing – its not something anyone in the group could have imagined, so I think working in a virtual world like this shows us that the possibilities are endless.”

“I thought Second Life, at first, was going to be difficult, but I learned to use it as an adjunct to our ‘normal’ communication.  You can’t just show up in a virtual world and expect to get work done.  You need to have an agenda and things to do, just like in the real world.”

“I’m a much better salsa dancer in Second Life than I am in the real world – which counts for something. (laughter)”

Sergio added to the student’s comments by saying,

“I can imagine in Second Life we’re going to be able to push this all much more, and actually model, what kind of city can we get form this.  I actually see this as a tremendous opportunity, and the kind of space that we all share – so I think we’re going to start using (Second Life) right away.”

Dr. Jarmon concluded with a wish for an ongoing collaboration,

“You know, you teach a class, and your grad students want to keep working after the semester is over – c’mon, that just doesn’t happen very often, so we hope this will continue, Sergio, because this is just a marvelous team.”

Read the whole story, and more about architecture in virtual worlds at The ARCH Network http://www.archvirtual.com



Welcome to my home: first attempts at using Unity3D for architectural visualization

Cross posted from The ARCH Network main site!  http://www.archvirtual.com

unity2
Chez Keystone! Come on in…(plugin required).

This isn’t multi-user (yet), and navigation might take some getting used to, but this is an Autodesk Revit ‘as-built’ model of my home, imported into the Unity game development platform I wrote about last week.  If I make a change in Revit and save it, the Unity build dynamically updates. With the exception of the trees, this is pretty much a raw output from Revit without any optimization (which is why it looks so crude). If I spent a few hours on it, I could add dynamic lighting and even import lightmaps to really enhance the model.   I can also export it to Nintendo Wii, iPhone or a variety of other platforms if I really wanted to, but at this point, I don’t have the necessity or resources to do so.

I should add a disclaimer that we didn’t design this house, but we are planning a green make-over in several stages in the months and years ahead, so we’ve been using this model to test master plan ideas.  I haven’t built or enabled access to the interior spaces, but I will soon.   This is just a starting point for design exploration, so even though I don’t have much to demo yet, I wanted to share some of my initial progress and publish updates with more thoughts on what I’ve learned about using Unity in professional practice.

unity1

What I like most about Unity so far is the ability to quickly and easily embed the virtual model on a web browser, or to a stand-alone .exe application if need be.  This makes it much easier to share design ideas with long distance clients that might not have the time or patience to deal with a registration process, large client downloads and orientation of larger virtual worlds.  Once they get the hang of using their mouse and arrow keys, just about anyone, even on lower end machines, can be walking around inside of a design concept within a few seconds.

When the time comes to add additional details and entourage, I simply save most raw file-types in their native format to the Assets folder of the project.  Unity then automatically finds updates if I change the model in its native application (Maya, 3DS Max, Photoshop, etc.).   What I find doubly enticing about this work-flow is that I can transition my assets into any platform I choose without being locked into a proprietary format.  For example, if/when Second Life enables mesh imports, I should be able to take these same raw assets and use them in SL, or Blue Mars, or on whichever platform I wish – without having to rebuild everything from scratch.  I will then be able to choose which virtual platform is most appropriate for the project’s requirements.

I also like the fact that the indie version of Unity is free to download and use.  Plus, its relatively easy to learn – much easier than any other 3D app I’ve worked with.  Also, there is a rapidly growing community of Unity users and support forums to find answers to just about any question you have, and lots of in-depth tutorials to help you get started.

With several companies building MMO’s or virtual worlds on Unity, it probably won’t be long before I can drop this model into a virtual world for multi-user, and avatar-based experiences.  However, I don’t think we will see realtime, in-world building tools in Unity the way we have in Second Life, or OpenSim.  Unity wasn’t designed or intended to be used that way.  I also think that any Unity worlds that do surface will likely be smaller, niche communities.  For those reasons and more,  I really don’t see Unity as any threat or comparison to Second Life or OpenSim.  However, for online, realtime, virtual architectural visualization, Unity is definitely a platform worth exploring.

Be sure to check out this thread in the Unity forum about architectural visualization in Unity: http://forum.unity3d.com/viewtopic.php?t=33684&highlight=architectural

Also, check out a recent post by epredator on his Life at the Feeding Edge blog regarding the combined application of Unity, OpenSim, Evolver and Smartfox to create the next generation of virtual worlds.