Who among us doesn’t enjoy tours of great architecture? And who among us has been able to enjoy a face to face tour of building design masterworks anytime in the last year?

Well through the magnificent graces of virtual reality, we now can recapture our admiration and adoration of beautiful buildings—and in vivid detail.

One particularly popular virtual guided tour takes us through English architect John Soane’s beautiful home and museum in London.

The home’s preserved Georgian interiors, such as the basement “Sepulchral Chamber” – where Soane put in place a 3,000-year-old pharaoh’s tomb in 1824 – can be viewed from various viewing angles that morph the solid stone walls transparent.

Fans of the Modernist style can pay a virtual visit to the Farnsworth House in Illinois, the creation of Mies van der Rohe in 1945, which explores the masterful interconnection between the glass walls, minimal interior and exterior landscape.

The peaceful Kettle’s Yard house in Cambridge is a deceptively basic mid-20th century English residence, refurbished by art collector Jim Ede. Virtual visitors even can get a look through the museum gift shop.

In Australia, tour the Shrine of Remembrance and the Australian War Memorial Museum.

Of course, design enthusiasts are bound to miss the experience of real-life house tours.

The yearly Open House Melbourne was not able to host their physical tours in 2020. They instead presented a series of virtual building tours, talks and resources in conjunction with tech company PHORIA studio and the sites on display.

The best projects don’t rely simply on virtual visualisation. They combined tech with content that comes courtesy of architects, designers, conservators and custodians. And they have been accessing more sizable audiences than physical tours can handle.

Park Life House in Williamstown, designed by Architecture Architecture, can be visited via a special tour hosted by the house’s architect, Michael Roper.

Park Life House was finished in 2019 and is a contemporary extension on a 1940s Housing Trust home. Roper asks us to consider the network of rooms, their building materials and the framing of interior and exterior views.

At the esteemed restoration of the Trades Hall and Literary Institute, visitors can behold the beautiful preserved interiors, with details that include names printed on trade union plaques and the wallpaper and paint revealed in the restoration.

Sans the restraints of a physical tour, visitors can admire fine details and intricate surfaces.

At Boyd House II on Walsh Street, South Yarra, as a benefit of the partnership between PHORIA, Arup, the Robin Boyd Foundation and volunteers, visitors can behold the details of the exquisite tensile roof structure, soft brick walls, admire the courtyard plan and then walk into this classic modern home designed in 1958—anytime of day or night.

These 360-degree panoramas are accessible and fairly easy to create via mobile phones, VR scanning and drone photography.

The next step, of course, is for VR to convey the surroundings, sounds, smells and lighting highlighted in any sound design.

Certain scholastic and heritage groups have requested international guidelines of quality regarding the creation of VR heritage tours, with goals of optimising accessibility, accuracy and authenticity.

Yet standardization cannot take the place of fun and creativity, which form the very heart of design.


Source: Architecture & Design