The Virtual / Physical Equilibrium

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review


    Two decades ago, during the 1997 EAEA conference in Delft, hands were counted whether the EAEA should focus on the envisioning of physical or digital models. At that conference the count was almost equal, but we foresaw a trend that soon architects would only make use of digital models.Actually those early days of virtual city models, collaborative virtual environments and ‘VRML’, were at a high in 1997. VRML (Virtual Reality Modelling Language), ‘the HTML of spatial content’, was designed for the future. The VRML Cosmo Player web plugin was capable of rendering a virtual model at 20 frames per second in a ‘huge’ 640 by 480 pixels textured perspective view.A decade later, in 2007, there was much more scepticism about digitally rendered imagery. VRML became a file format for making colour 3D prints and the focus changed to making tangible models by using Computer Aided Manufacturing techniques. The ‘maker movement’ was getting into gear, while rendering had become a bit of a cliché representation method. Meanwhile corrugated cardboard remained my preferred material to quickly make sketchy ‘interactive’ scale models.At the present moment a revival or even a breakthrough is going on, again in the field of the digital models and digital modes of representation. 2016 has been a year full of news about Virtual- and Augmented Reality (VR & AR) and we can expect this trend to carry on for a while. Google recently gave ‘Cardboard’ a different meaning, now it’s the name of a cheap VR viewer and Daydream is Google’s platform that extends Cardboard with a number of controls and standalone functionality.We have come full circle. Virtual Reality gets practical while at the same time we value physical models and prototypes for their tangible and direct qualities. The divide is over and in this paper we would like to discuss a possible Virtual / Physical equilibrium.We will start with a brief discussion about the different configurations in which models and media relate to the mind of the architect and the contextual fit of a design in the ‘real world’. From that overview of configurations we continue the paper with practical examples from our education experiments, in particular a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on Models in Architecture.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationEnvisioning Architecture: Space / Time / Meaning
    EditorsTom Maver, Paul Chapman, Christopher Platt, Victor Portela, David Eaton
    PublisherGlasgow School of Art Press
    ISBN (Print)978-0-9576660-8-5
    Publication statusPublished - 2017
    EventEAEA13: 13th European Architectural Envisioning Conference 2017 - Glasgow, United Kingdom
    Duration: 6 Sep 20178 Sep 2017


    ConferenceEAEA13: 13th European Architectural Envisioning Conference 2017
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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