Three-dimensional (3d) visualization is almost a requirement in today’s world of architecture and design. Many of the software programs that Architects use to design buildings have evolved to the point where some type of 3d images are quite easy to generate. The quality and usability of these images, however, are often lacking – certainly not “presentation quality”. That is – until you add in rendering programs, image enhancement software (such as Photoshop), and some serious time commitment.
Embracing this new reality, a few years ago Banwell began researching which 3d visualization programs existed that would both provide a visually appealing product (rendering), while reducing the production time from the days (or weeks!) it used to take to produce them. As we began our search, we were looking for final graphic quality, speed, ease of use, and – obviously – compatibility with our existing drafting software (Revit). Through trial and error, we eventually found a program developed by a company from Germany called Enscape.
Enscape creates stunning 3d images almost at the click of a button. However, Enscape’s power goes well beyond being able to create a pretty picture. What Banwell did not realize when initially investing in this product was how integral this would become to our design process. It is now one of the most important tools we use. It has completely changed how meetings are run, how we communicate to our clients, and how we design.
For example, we recently completed the design of a middle school for Crossroads Academy in Lyme, NH. Enscape allowed us to create “progress renderings” that we could share with the school during the design process. They used these renderings to help with fundraising and to keep parents and students updated and engaged in the progress. We had working sessions with the teachers when reviewing visual display board locations and could move furniture around, in real-time, to visualize the entire classroom. When reviewing security concerns with the Head of School, we virtually “stood” in the lobby and reviewed sight lines, window locations, and office/furniture.
Enscape was also a tool used during engineering meetings. We could, in real time, visualize the impact of duct sizing in the STEM lab, truss sizes in the auditorium, or the look of the building when relocating a window due to a column.
Every year, Crossroads Academy hosts a “Parent Night” – an opportunity for the families of students to meet the teachers, and watch the children sing and perform. This year, Banwell Architects attended this event and brought our computers with us! We connected Enscape to virtual reality googles. For hours, the children, parents, and teachers took turns trying on the VR googles and virtually walking around the school. We showed the Spanish teach her new classroom and a young student her future physical science lab (her favorite subject).
Never in architecture has there been a tool such as this – offering the ability to be simultaneously productive, engaging, and fun.
3D visualization now benefits everyone, including the architect, the engineers, the construction manager, and the client. We are living in an exciting world where this virtual reality is so readily available and easy to use. We can’t wait to see what comes next!