Using VR To Engage The Public In Construction Projects

I’ve written a few times recently about the increasing use of virtual reality in construction.  Most of these use cases have involved providing construction managers with insight as to how the project will look, and what progress is being made on the project.

A team from Fraunhofer IAO and the University of Hohenheim have developed guidelines that they hope will allow planners, architects and public agencies to use virtual reality effectively.

One of the more interesting use cases is in smoothing any disagreements that may arise during construction.  The authors report that public dissent is almost inevitable on any building work, as people raise questions and concerns about how the new building might impact them and their life.  It’s often difficult for those responsible to effectively communicate their plans, and therefore assuage any concerns the public has.

Virtual reality to the rescue

The team reveal how virtual reality can allow projects to come to life before they’re built, therefore giving people the opportunity to explore buildings and play out scenarios themselves as if they were there on site.

“Virtual reality not only furthers the utility of public participation, but it also inspires citizens to get involved,” the team say. “The combining of Building Information Modeling with new visualization techniques such as virtual reality is opening up fascinating new possibilities for stakeholder communication. The Visualizing Building Projects guidelines deserve praise for creating awareness of this potential.”

The public are increasingly demanding in what they want from architects and planners.  They insist on a lot of information, and the team believe that the Visualizing Building Projects guidelines how technology such as VR can help to meet these expectations.

It’s an interesting example of how VR can help to smooth the passage of construction projects from planning to fruition, and it will be interesting to see how many projects begin to use such approaches as part of their public engagement.