Total recall-ibration: teaching spatial thinking and critical design with virtual reality
Virtual Reality (VR) is an immersive three dimensional computer generated environment. The concept of VR was introduced in 1960s when helmet mounted display (HMD) devices was introduced to fighter pilots). The technology has improved since then to mature wearable VR devices. Outside of military use, VR can be found in the entertainment and gaming industry, and commonly accessible for home users utilizing entry level technology with smart phones and adapters such as Google Cardboard. The technology has crossed from entertainment to education and visualization. Tapped more frequently in design education, utilized for ideation inception through to logistical planning. The power of VR is in its ability to close the communication gap between designer and builder and users of space. Several previous studies have focused on how VR can improve construction scheduling and safety. This tool can also be utilized to bridge from the conceptual and abstract; from teacher to student. Vr allows environment designers to test concepts in ‘virtual space’ at 1:1 scale for themselves and for the critique of others - be they faculty, peers, internal, or reviewers. The utility of this tool comes from its ability to move communication from abstract visualization feedback to conversations held within a virtual representation of the space itself. This paper explores the role of VR in how students learn to design spaces and in how they communicate that space with fellow students, construction managers, and their faculty.