Conceptual structural design of shell structures in virtual reality
Virtual Reality (VR) has emerged during the recent years. By wearing a head-mounted display (HMD) and hand controllers, the users are able to view, draw and navigate in virtual 3D-space.
The primary objective of our study has been to elaborate on the potential of applying VR as a sketch tool in the conceptual structural design process of shell structures. Different from drawing in a birds-view perspective, VR enables the user to more intuitively define a design space while virtually walking around in a given site.
Choosing methods for early sketch development is often a compromise between efficiency and level of informative feedback. Pencil doodling is extremely efficient, but are demanding for drawing irregular spatial forms. Opposite, computer and physical modelling is more informative and detailed, but often too slow for sketching. The following method automatically generates a gridshell based on VR-doodles and results in both an efficient and detailed iterative design process.
Using VR and Google Tilt Brush, the designer navigates in a virtual site model. Sketching is done by drawing virtually in three dimensions. Then the algorithm, by differentiating colours in the VR model, creates parametric model in the Grasshopper software. The structural analysis made by semi-automatic program finds the best solution to assumed surface. At the end the model of feasible gridshell can be watched and adjust in the VR.
There are currently two PhD candidates working with conceptual structural design of shell structures in virtual reality: