Visualizing Projects Before Construction
As a designer, I really like seeing projects I’ve worked on come to life as early as I can. Many times, I’ll get what I think is a brilliant idea, draw it up, and promptly realize that it is less than striking or functional. In the worst cases, this happens as you walk through a building being built or that is completed. Fortunately, modeling buildings virtually far before the construction phase can save a lot of heartache.
Three dimensional building models are crucial because they provide an accurate, compelling way to see if you actually like the implications of the plan far before the building is built, and to test different design options quickly to see which is the best solution. In the early stages of a project, a building model is extremely useful to arrive at an overall scheme that the client, contractor, and architect are all pleased with before moving forward. 3D building models are much better at this than 2D drawings are, since we experience a world in 3D. For example- most construction document sets (ours included) provide elevations of the building. These are a great tool to communicate what materials go where, window and door arrangements, and an overall feel, but the view is totally flat, so it is hard to understand what experiencing the building will actually feel like. Here is a project we recently completed drawings on in elevation and the model in three-dimensions:
As you can tell, the model approximates the feel of the building much more accurately than elevations alone can. This is valuable at every stage of the project- settling on a conceptual scheme, developing that scheme, and constructing the building. In addition to the exterior, constructing the building virtually allows the designer and client to visualize any space within the structure. Once the model is built, views can be set up from anywhere to understand the experience that users will have with the building and what it will actually look like. These are interior images of a project that finished construction about a year ago- one is a rendering of the interior created before construction even began, the other is the final interior image from the same location:
Pretty close if I say so myself! You can clearly see how a building model can be an invaluable tool to completely understand a building project for everyone involved- whether the architect, contractor, or owner- at every phase of a project.