Page T1.1 . 23 October 2002                     
ArchitectureWeek - Tools Department
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    Diving Deeper into Designs

    by Katsu Muramoto, George Otto, and Loukas Kalisperis

    When architecture students begin learning how to design, they often have difficulty visualizing forms in space and developing a sense of scale. Traditional efforts to overcome these difficulties have centered on the construction of physical models and the drawing of 2D orthographic projections and 3D perspectives.

    Even with such tools, however, students usually undergo an arduous learning process to develop a spatial understanding, the lack of which can hinder their ability to design effectively. In recent years, the introduction of 3D modeling software in the design curriculum has helped students conceive of three-dimensional forms and space, but small desktop displays can distort the students' sense of scale and impede their full understanding of the spatial consequences of their designs.

    To further aid beginning design students, the Immersive Environments Lab (IEL) at Pennsylvania State University has been jointly developed by the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA) and Information Technology Services (ITS).

    The lab introduces undergraduates to virtual reality (VR) design techniques. The facility is also used by researchers to study the further potential of interactive immersive environments to aid in developing three-dimensional thinking in design education.   >>>

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    The Immersive Environments Lab (IEL) display at Penn State uses a Windows desktop, here showing images from Charles Yazembiak's fifth-year thesis design.
    Photo: Jamie R. Heilman

    ArchWeek Image

    Rear view of the IEL screens showing the student-designed display structure and stacking projectors to the right.
    Photo: Katsu Muramoto


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