VR gives students the tools to tour their projects

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Ysabel Arboleda sees her restaurant project through VR for the first time. (Amira Zubairi)

Ryerson’s architectural science students have only been able to see their building designs through printed floor plans and computer screens  – until now.

With the architectural science department’s recent partnership with Yulio, a Toronto-based virtual reality software company, students can immerse themselves into their designs through virtual reality.

On Nov. 7, first- and second-year students taking Prof. Vincent Hui’s design studio course had the opportunity to see buildings they designed in virtual reality for the first time.  

“I’ve never seen software work like this before,” said Ysabel Arboleda, a second-year architectural science student. “Usually, we only see our designs in a snapshot, but here we see a 360 view. Everywhere we look will be your building. You won’t just be looking at a picture of it anymore. You’ll be standing inside of your building.”

For their first project, the students spent nearly seven weeks designing restaurants for various Toronto buildings and neighbourhoods.

During this process, the students met with their professor to go over their designs and received feedback on how to improve them. But they were limited to viewing their designs on two-dimensional floor plans and computer screens until they were complete.

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The VR tool that will be used in more curriculums at Ryerson. (Amira Zubairi)

Jessica Gu, a second-year student in Hui’s course, says seeing her restaurant design in virtual reality made her more critical of her work. She said that that it can be an effective educational tool.

“I think it would really help because it’s so different when you’re just getting 2D pictures of your building rather than you actually being in it and looking around, gaging how big things are or how tall things are. Without VR, you would never be able to get all that information so fast,” said Gu.

The students’ professor, Hui, said integrating virtual reality technologies into the architectural science curriculum creates a more hands-on learning experience and helps students see the strengths and weaknesses of their work.

“It’s not just simply new tools to make things look pretty,” said Hui. “It’s actually about getting inside the designs and realize that you could have done a better job here or you could have fixed this.”

In addition to allowing students to immerse themselves in their designs, experience in virtual reality can give architectural science students a competitive advantage when they enter the job market.

“With this tool, we’re also enabling them to be ready for the industry,” said Hui. “In the future, architecture is not going to be hand drawn. It’s going to be digital. The industry’s already moving that way, so at Ryerson we’re just moving in advance of that. Our students are doing that in first year and I am confident that they will be ready for the industry.”

Hui says his colleagues in other departments, such as interior design, are also planning to integrate virtual reality into their curriculum next semester.

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