Virtual Reality

Stow Away Hotel Ground Floor Wine Bar

Stow Away Hotel in Room Scale VR

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Working with urban regeneration developers Stow Projects and architects Doone Silver Kerr we’ve developed a VR simulation of a new sustainable and eco friendly apart-hotel made from re-purposed shipping containers. This particular simulation presents a unique opportunity for us to showcase room scale VR and our new untethered HTC Vive headset using TP Cast, freeing the viewer from the burden (and trip hazard) of the headset’s ‘umbilical cord’.

As a result of the compact size of the apart-hotel bedroom we were able to track the viewer’s location in the virtual simulation using just two lighthouse sensors and, in addition, were able to use an empty shipping container at The Artworks Elephant of exactly the same size in which to install it. Consequently, we’ve curated a VR experience which takes place in physical space with the same dimensions as the luxe apart-hotel room, greatly enhancing the ‘presence’ of the walk-through.

Through the combination of the wireless HMD and the one-to-one mapping to the physical space, one can grasp the full power of a VR simulation, walking unimpeded as if in the very hotel room itself. Reaching out to touch walls and ceilings in VR and feeling them in reality.

Next week we open the experience to the press and the VR community to try for themselves. If you are interested in coming along please book an appointment, details below.

The VR experience will be available from:

11am to 5pm on Tuesday 5th – Thursday 7th Dec

Unit 26, The Artworks Elephant, 17a Elephant Road, London SE17 1AY

To book your free space, please email: [email protected] or [email protected]

Refreshments will be served – We hope you can join us!

Room Scale VR Walkthrough

About Stow Away Hotel
Located in the heart of Waterloo, within the vibrant cultural hub of Lower Marsh, Stow Projects, Ciel Capital and Bridge Street Global Hospitality are opening the affordable luxury Stow Away apart-hotel at the end of the year. Designed by Doone Silver Kerr Architects, it is a fully sustainable and eco-friendly project made from 26 re-purposed shipping containers for comfortable short- and long-stay living in central London.

About Stow Projects
Stow Projects are a creative property development and urban regeneration company. They form partnerships with landowners to fund, develop and operate workplaces, apart-hotels and residential accommodation. Regeneration and sustainability are the key drivers behind their projects, and they find ways to unlock difficult sites through innovation, for example with the use of flexible modular units. They aim for all their projects to mature into new places that will become socially and economically integrated into boroughs undergoing great social change.

London Business School Sammy Ofer Centre

The Future Of Visualisation

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Doing is better than looking – push that wall out wider.

Virtual reality might finally be becoming accepted. This year saw the launch of various VR headsets, mainly Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, allowing fully immersive movement in a virtual environment running from a PC. Navigation in Oculus is by standard game controllers such as for an Xbox, or in Vive by physically moving bet­ween a pair of sensors mounted up to 5m apart. The latter obviously gives a greater sense of engagement and involvement; your movements in the physical world replicated in the virtual.

There are also less expensive, unwired versions into which you must slot your phone, such as the Samsung Gear VR or Google Cardboard, which essentially play back a 360° image or video. The main difference between these and the wired viewers is that they are single nodal point viewers, so while you can interactively turn your head you can only move through the environment by transporting to another node.

Within the architectural community uptake of real time rendering has been slow – partly due to poor materiality, textures and lighting. But with qualitative advancement of gaming engines, notably Unreal (UE4), the potential is fantastic. Reducing overnight render times to a fraction of a second (real time output is 60+ frames per second), screengrabs of full resolution marketing images and animation can be outputted as real time by-products.

“The ability to use movement and gestures to shape the virtual environment around you is tantalising. Modelling while ‘inside the model’, pushing volumes and walls and openings around to sense instantaneously how that alters the space, feels like a gamechanger.”

We’ve been using UE4 for a while now, most notably for London Business School’s new premises. We were restoring (virtually) one of its rooms recently to create a fundraising image by building a 3D model, rendering and then creating a ‘traditional’ interior CGI. Once complete, although it looked great, the wide angle view just didn’t feel like the physical space we’d visited. But when the same 3D model was put into the headset it felt spatially identical to being in the room. How our minds interpret 2D wide angle photography vs perceived reality is a massive subject but the effect speaks for itself; VR feels so much more real. Not only is the quality a vast improvement, but the experiential possibilities are much more believable. The word ‘immersion’ is used a lot – rightly so.

VR’s strength has yet to be fully appreciated by architects, alongside the Vive’s ‘paddles’ which allow the user to interact with the space. The use of a mouse/tablet is so ingrained that it’s difficult to imagine using another interface, but the ability to use movement and gestures to shape the virtual environment around you is tantalising. Modelling while ‘inside the model’, pushing volumes and walls and openings around to sense instantaneously how that alters the space, feels like a gamechanger; VR in VR.

The wider potential is mind-blowing. Imagine combining your own immersion with others, where all put on headsets and meet in a virtual room – a form of 360° immersive Skype. Soon we will be able to walk around the pre-application scheme  with all the design team in a shared virtual environment, discussing and altering the design to  see the implications in real time. We are as close as we have ever been to achieving the state of lucid dreaming…

Joseph Robson is one of the founding directors at A-VR.

Original RIBJA Article,