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Insights How are architects in the Middle East using virtual reality

Virtual reality (VR) is increasingly being used by architects and engineers in the planning and design stages of construction projects. It has transformed the industry and allows architectural professionals to employ a three-dimensional (3D) perspective in their work, unleashing countless benefits.

At AtkinsRéalis , and our brands Atkins and Faithful+Gould, we deliver real value with virtual reality and incorporate innovative technologies into our wide range of complex projects across the world. So what really is virtual reality, and how is it impacting architecture?

this is an image of two people using VR headsets

What is virtual reality?

Virtual reality describes a 3D, computer-generated environment, which can be explored and interacted with. It allows the user to immerse themselves into the virtual environment to gain a unique perspective. In contrast to augmented reality (AR), which can employ a live, real-world setting, VR is almost a fictional reality, escaping from the physical world.

VR is also applied in other industries including aviation and medicine, allowing trainee pilots and surgeons to practice and take risks in a virtual experience before applying it in a real-life setting. Similarly, architects embrace the evolving uses of digital scanning and immersive technology like VR to help clients visualise projects whilst enhancing their own understanding of assets to make informed decisions throughout each stage of the design process.

How is virtual reality assisting architecture?

Starting a career as an architect requires both artistic skills and scientific knowledge in order to design buildings and infrastructure that provide for societal wants and needs. Architecture is considered to be one of the most prestigious and varied career paths, with opportunities in abundance to be creative and demonstrate problem-solving and innovation.

Virtual reality is pushing the boundaries in architecture. As previously mentioned, VR enables architects to present imaginative designs to clients and reduce revisions. However, when performed well, the real benefits of VR in construction include risk and cost reduction, and improved safety, quality and accuracy. Virtual reality, therefore, creates a new realm of potential for architects and engineers, allowing them to explore computer-generated representations of every detail of a project.

At AtkinsRéalis , we believe immersive technology like VR should be treated as an integrated tool throughout the planning and design phase of a project, rather than an add-on service. This is because it provides invaluable insights throughout the entire lifecycle, and ultimately enhances delivery for our clients.

Applying virtual reality to architecture in the Middle East

The Middle East is home to some of the most creative and prestigious architectural designs, including palaces, skyscrapers, and man-made islands. The built environment is continuing to grow in the region, creating opportunities for both experienced and graduate architects to pursue long and successful careers using innovative technologies. Saudi Arabia, for example, is a fantastic place to build your career in architecture as the country is undergoing a historic transformation in its pursuit to diversify the economy.

Yet, architects are increasingly required to consider new elements in their designs to tackle the impacts of climate change, which is changing the environmental conditions in which buildings and infrastructure are typically designed to operate. In conjunction with BIM, VR can therefore be used to envision sustainable designs, enabling architects to convey environmental analysis in their plans and measure carbon output at every stage. In this sense, VR will allow architects to collaborate with civil engineers, project managers and quantity surveyors and visualise how future generations will live.

Visualise your architecture career at AtkinsRéalis

In the Middle East, being an architect is both exciting and rewarding and no two projects are the same, so you’ll always be evolving and learning new skills.

At AtkinsRéalis , we’re developing architects of the future like Jia, who was inspired to pursue her career after visiting the Burj Al Arab in the UAE, noting its unique design and ability to affect people’s vision of a country as influencing factors. VR has enabled designs like this to come to life and so we’re proud to offer our colleagues opportunities to apply innovative technologies in architecture.

If you are looking for a new challenge, and you have pioneering ideas about how we can employ new technologies in architecture, we’d like to hear from you. Browse our available architecture jobs today.