Virtual reality for off-the-plan sales on the rise

By Cameron Jewell

Virtual reality is being used to give potential residents a better understanding of what living at Lendlease’s Melbourne Quarter will be like, offering hope that fewer resources can be consumed to promote and visualise new property development.

Within the apartment sales and display centre, virtual reality goggles and an interactive 3D printed model controlled by iPad are giving potential residents an in-depth understanding of what could be their future apartment block.

“Virtual reality goggles give buyers the chance to step inside residential amenities like swimming pools, gyms, spas and our New York-style Skypark before they have been built to experience the precinct in real time and scale,” Lendlease managing director for urban regeneration Mark Menhinnitt said.

The use of VR is on the rise in residential developments and could have implications for sustainability, with the potential for dematerialisation through the phase-out of traditional display suites – and with the rise of home VR systems, there’s the potential for people to cut out travel and do their inspections at home in future.

While the Lendlease development also has a physical display suite, a number of other developments are eschewing this expense altogether.

For example, Chinese developer Aqualand last year had no physical display apartment, using virtual reality to help sell its 44-apartment The Heysen development in Sydney.

“Buying a new home is both a rational and emotional process, particularly for properties which haven’t been built yet,” Aqualand general manager Nick Tobin told News Corp.

“VR has enabled us to provide prospective buyers with the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in their new home.”

He said it had definitely helped with prospective sales, and that people marvelled at how realistic the experience was.

Commercial applications

The technology is also being used in the commercial space.

A second display suite for Melbourne Quarter has been created by Techn? Architecture and Interior Design, tailored to business-focused customer briefings.

Techn? senior associate Gabriella Gulacsi said technologies such as Oculus Rift were rising in popularity due to their accessibility, and was a powerful tool for reaching potential customers.

“Virtual reality technology is increasingly important for both developers and architects to communicate a project’s vision to customers before construction begins,” she said.

“At Melbourne Quarter, a series of projections display the anticipated views of the future precinct and community, replacing the conventionally standard, static marketing suite.”

Another example is ASPECT Digital’s Immersive Display Suite for Charter Hall’s 333 George Street, which was a Gold Winner at the 2015 Melbourne Design Awards.

ASPECT created a virtual model of the commercial office, with four different variations of floor plans, along with views, allowing potential tenants to gain “a true appreciation of how big the space is and how their team and employees and going to work and interact in the space”.

Sustainability benefits mentioned included less waste by reducing paper plans and reduced carbon emissions through avoided travel to the site.