Methods of design have evolved and changed with the advancement of technology. From the humble pen and paper to the mouse and ultimately the digital tablet, designers have used various tools to conceptualize and express their designs over the years. This paper will cover the impact of virtual reality on the design process within an immersive virtual environment — where this process is reversed, and conventional educational methods are ‘flipped.’ Also, it will highlight the power of collaborative, experiential designs and their impact on the designer, design process, and design outcome. The course “DDFT 473 – Virtual Environments” is the case study for this paper. In this course, students were tasked to design in an immersive manner while inside an infinite virtual void and by incorporating collaborative tools to fulfill the project brief. Using head-mounted VR devices with six degrees of freedom, students, individually and collectively, completed extensive and complex architectural designs entirely inside virtual reality. This paper highlights the results of this course. It reflects on the lessons-learned relative to designing fully within VR and, more importantly, the potential impact of virtual reality on the future of education in general and design education in specific.
Georges Kachaamy, Ph.D. is the Director of the Center for Research, Innovation, and Design (CRID) at the School of Architecture, Art, and Design, the American University in Dubai. He has served as the chairperson of the Department of Architecture, under which the program has received the NAAB Accreditation. He is a professor of architecture, a registered architect, a certified VR Sketch trainer, a GRAVITY SKETCH Certified Instructor, an associate member of the American Institute of Architects, and an affiliated member of the UAE Society of Engineers.
Abdellatif Qamhaieh Ph.D. is an associate professor of architecture at the American University in Dubai. His research covers the areas of mobility, GCC urbanism, GIS, and design pedagogy.