Architecture students develop 360-degree VR installations

Vahid Vahdat Zad

See students' 360-degree designs.

An exercise designed to expand the imaginations of Texas A&M environmental design majors yielded stunning, 360-degree virtual reality spaces that dazzled headset-clad viewers at a late-October pop-up exhibit staged at the Langford Architecture Center on the Texas A&M campus.

Liberated from the constraints of materiality, structure and climate, students in a third-year studio led by Vahid Vahdat, visiting architecture lecturer, created Escheresque conceptual spaces with jutting tubes, sculptural walls and textured surfaces.

“The work was amazing and on the forefront of where design should be going,” said Rodney Hill, a professor of architecture who reviewed the project.

Vahdat tasked students with creating a purely spatial experience in a virtual world.

"The extreme abstraction that VR offers," he said, "provides an unexplored mode of design thinking, allowing students to redefine the viewers' perceptual relation to space."

As student Elise Werner, of The Woodlands, Texas, put it, "I can now inhabit a space that was otherwise residing in my mind."

Virtual space is experienced routinely by millions of people around the globe, including computer game players and animated movie viewers; however, Vahdat noted, “virtual and augmented reality should not be reduced to a merely representational tool that replicates a not-yet-realized space.”

The exhibit was reviewed by Texas A&M faculty and industry experts from HKS and Fentress Architects.

Sarah Wilson

swilson@arch.tamu.edu

posted November 9, 2017