4 possible applications of virtual reality for landscape architecture

27 September 2018

If 3D design software is common in landscape architecture, the use of virtual reality is still in its infancy. However, far from being confined to video game, it has been adopted in a host of sectors. Taking as a starting point initiatives that already exist, Paysalia imagines what virtual reality could bring to landscapers in the years to come…

A selling tool for landscaping projects

Some 3D green space design software already have a virtual reality functionality. This enables owner to “see” the project before work begins. Total Landscape Care magazine believes there is also a true “emotional connection” (1). If this aspect is first and foremost a tool that helps landscape architects convince prospects and close project sales, virtual reality may become standard practice in a few years and required for the submission of tenders for public authority and private projects.

Connecting the general public with landscapes

Paradoxically, virtual reality and augmented reality (overlaying virtual data on real world images) could well teach the general public to connect with its surroundings better as the technology facilitates the transmission of information. This is why some public authorities, like Lyon in France, already use it to communicate with locals about urban redevelopment (2). The University of Exeter (England) uses it to show the biodiversity in green spaces on its campus (3).

Creating virtual therapeutic gardens for the future

Could therapeutic gardens, the theme of the Carré des Jardiniers contest in 2017, open to everyone, even the bedridden? Using virtual reality for therapy is no longer just a dream. Many doctors use it to treat phobias, relieve pain and even to cure post-traumatic stress. The design of virtual therapeutic green spaces to induce wellbeing is the logical continuity of these new tools used to alleviate suffering.

Recreating damaged environments

Everyone has dreamt they are walking through the mythical Hanging Gardens of Babylon! Virtual reality can make this happen and shake off the dust of ages from places that no longer exist to ensure they are not forgotten and live on in our collective memory. Some projects, like the abbey of Cluny, France, (4) are already heading this way, but are mainly centered on highlighting buildings. Perhaps landscape architects in tomorrow’s world will apply their know-how to rebuilding complete environments. Up to you!

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There are some obstacles to surmount before green space landscape architects get to grips with virtual reality: the hard- and soft-ware is expensive and technically difficult to set up. But after all, who would have suspected just a few decades ago that green space irrigation would be controlled by smartphones? It’s sure that virtual and augmented reality will soon be part of all our professional landscapes!

(1) Total Landscape Care: Virtual reality wields untapped landscaping potential
(2) La Croix-Roussienne: On a testé pour vous : Le Clos Jouve en 2020
(3) Exeter: Augmented Reality: A different view of learning
(4) Franceinfo: Cluny reprend vie grâce à la 3D et à la réalité augmentée

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