How We Use Virtual Reality To Communicate With Our Clients

“Find a way to get me into your head. I will build the house in which I want to spend the rest of my days once I am sure what it will be like.”

It happened in my studio 15 years ago. I had just presented my tenth project proposal to Maria, my client, but she was still not satisfied. It was as if we could not understand each other.

I was seriously considering resigning. There was no alternative, I thought, when trust between the architect and the client had failed. But was it really a trust issue? Or was it a communication issue?

I came home rather disappointed that evening. My wife noticed it immediately. My children did not, they were only eight and 11 at the time and they were playing a video game. I stopped at the doorway to the living room to watch the children playing; the buildings rendered in the video game were remarkably realistic.

I watched as the children made their characters explore one building after another and I was struck by how lifelike it all felt, even to me. Suddenly I had an idea: I had to take Maria inside the building I was designing for her. I had to find a way to let her experience the building as if she were actually exploring it. In this way, she would finally see what I could see with my imagination.

I didn't sleep that night. The next morning, I called an old programmer friend and challenged him: Would he like to give me a hand in this venture? It turned out to be more complicated than we initially thought but it was worth it. When I showed Maria the building, realistically recreated on screen, she seemed like she was crazy. Finally, she could see what I saw. And she liked it.

Since that moment, proper client communication has been top priority in my office. For 15 years we have been pioneers in the use of new technologies such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.

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