Inside the Architecture Firm of the Future

Sarah Kay, the Global Director for Workplace at Woods Bagot architecture firm, walks through every building she designs before building it.


Virtual reality lets us truly engage with our designs. It’s a fantastic way to check a model,” Kay says.


With virtual reality (VR) technology, lead project managers of huge architecture firms like Kay can efficiently review their design and correct all changes during the planning stage.


Woods Bagot is an international architecture firm with over 850 architects and designers in 15 offices around the world. They have designed workplaces for companies like Bloomberg, JP Morgan, and HSBC. Their teams use a range of technologies to connect the firm’s experts from offices across the world.


Recently, Kay was able to supervise the entire operation of a Tokyo project from New York. Her team used custom-made file-sharing apps and video conferencing tools like Cisco Webex to communicate regularly with architects in Beijing, restaurant designers in Sydney, and business owners in Singapore. Using VR, Kay and her team of architects were able to share designs with the client through their smartphones. The clients were able to see the progress of the building, allowing them to give Kay feedback to incorporate into the build.


“Using technology, we remain connected all the time — it’s a very seamless experience,” Kay says.


The VR technology is vital to the operation of Woods Bagot nowadays, so they dedicated a 10×15 foot VR room in their Manhattan office. It’s a large and open space where Kay and other designers can don VR goggles to virtually tour their designs and vet buildings from the inside out.


The Woods Bagot architecture firm is only one of the businesses who use VR as a collaborative tool. The technology allowed their teams of architects and their clients to walk through VR designs together in real time, touring the structure before building it.


“We’ve recently started to look at collaborative walkthroughs in VR, even bringing in clients,” says Shane Burger, the company’s global leader of technical innovation.


‘I could be here in New York, the client is in Singapore, and a designer is in Sydney, yet we are all simultaneously walking a building in VR and having a conversation — everything driven by collaboration,” he said.


This story was produced by WIRED Brand Lab for Cisco. Read the original article here.