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Squint/Opera, BIG and UNStudio reveal virtual AR design tool SpaceForm


Creative digital studio Squint/Opera has teamed up with BIG and UNStudio on SpaceForm, a design tool that allows architects and planners across the world to collaborate in augmented reality (AR).

SpaceForm allows users to immerse themselves in a virtual 3D work environment, which can be accessed from computers, tablets, smartphones, or via a virtual reality headset (VR).

“Imagine a virtual workshop space where site images, maps, data and 3D models can be uploaded, viewed and manipulated in collaboration,” said Squint/Opera.

Users can interact with scale models on the virtual work table or immerse themselves at 1:1 scale. By enabling designers to virtually come together, SpaceForm reduces the need for global travel.

Jan Bunge, Managing Director at Squint/Opera, said: “SpaceForm marks the first time we can feel and sense a spatial condition before it gets built.

“This will completely change the way we design, review and communicate projects in the built environment. Unlike most tools, SpaceForm is a tool developed from the industry for the industry.”

The first prototype of SpaceForm was built in 2018 and has since been tested with several architects. Key features to develop the product for the industry include:

  • Access to all available data sets for the selected geo-location including maps, historical images, planning regulations, legal restrictions, environmental and social data.
  • Multi user and multi platform functionality.
  • Ability to produce stills renders and record videos in the application.

Ben Van Berkel, Founder of UNStudio, said: “Virtual reality, beyond being a tool for communication, has major impacts for architecture at every stage along the lifecycle of a building. The promise of the SpaceForm research is that it brings computational design and VR together, creating additional dimensions to the value of space: from the design process through to the experience of a completed project.

“It will allow us to create more relevant, purposeful designs that are more user centric, where form follows effect. From material choices to massing designs, we can make more informed designs together, and witness the direct consequences of those decisions. As all spaces are digital, VR allows for a more efficient, sustainable and portable workflow.”

SpaceForm is currently showcased as part of BIG’s FORMGIVING exhibition, which opened at the Danish Architecture Center in Copenhagen on June 12.

Bjarke Ingels of BIG added: “In the future every physical object will be connected to one another, sensing each other and everything in between. For every physical object there will be a digital twin. For every physical space a virtual space.

SpaceForm is the augmented creative collaborative environment of the future which will allow an instantaneous confluence of actual and imagined realities – the present and the future fusing in our augmented sense of reality.”

Images: BIG/UNStudio/Squint/Opera

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Bea Mitchell

Bea is a journalist specialising in entertainment, attractions and tech with 10 years' experience. She has written and edited for publications including CNET, BuzzFeed, Digital Spy, Evening Standard and BBC. Bea graduated from King's College London and has an MA in journalism.

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