Architects have been creating 3D models to visualize projects and simulate scenarios for thousands of years, and with good reason. The process of creating an architectural visualization in the shape of a 3D model helps inspire new ideas, recognize potential pitfalls and allows for “happy mistakes”, as architect Mark English likes to call them.
Physical models in particular have remained popular because they offer a relatively easy (if time consuming) and low cost way to explore and communicate an array of architectural characteristics – size and scale, materiality, design, spatial interrelationships – that 2D representations like drawings can’t. They have become learning and inspiration tools integral to the architectural process that until now couldn’t be matched by digital representations.
But as technology has developed and digital spatial services become more detailed, more exact, more interactive and more usable, we’re starting to see a concerted shift towards architects embracing digital 3D models instead.
Five immediate benefits of using digital 3D models
With photorealistic visuals, extraordinary levels of detail, versatility and convenience as standard, digital 3D models bring many benefits that physical models just can’t compete with.
There are few more precious resources than time, so anything that saves it is worth paying attention to. Detailed physical models that really showcase designs and concepts yet are architecturally accurate and scaled can take weeks or months of highly skilled work to create, depending on the size of the project. Digital 3D modeling uses existing software that can create the same (or even greater) levels of accuracy and interactivity in mere days.
The level of skill and volume of work required to build a physical model can mean big bills running into many thousands of dollars, francs or pounds. Digital models remove that human resource element and replace it with ready-to-go software, making them far cheaper to produce, update, transport and share with no loss of quality or versatility. That versatility also means it’s easy to reuse and rework them across multiple projects to help identify and minimize mistakes and refine concepts before building, which only makes them more cost effective.
A key value of models is the ability to build and test, then update and test again – and again and again until the design is perfect, stakeholders are aligned and the project is ready for construction. This makes versatility key, which is perhaps the most obvious advantage digital models have over physical.
Need to update a physical model? That could mean starting from scratch building a new one or at the very least waiting for manual changes to the existing iteration. Need to update a digital model? No problem, with the right software we can swap entire buildings in minutes and easily test other scenarios like weather and seasons that aren’t possible with a physical model.
Minimize errors and miscommunication
Digital models bring together components from different industries involved in construction such as electrics, plumbing and interior design. By aligning them with each other to see how they interact and affect the building as a whole, architects can test potential outcomes to find optimum solutions for the design, layout and implementation. This helps reduce design errors and miscommunications between typically disparate trades.
Transport and share easily
Transporting physical models, usually made from wood or plastics, to show clients or exhibit at shows for example, can be a risky and expensive business. Not so with digital models which can be shared infinitely and sent instantly to anywhere in the world at the press of a button.
What can architects use digital 3D models for?
At their core, digital 3D models bring construction projects to life in complete detail before they’re built. This can serve many purposes.
To deliver true representations
From the photorealistic, real-world visuals to the exact construction specifications, digital 3D models represent every aspect of a property down to the finest detail both externally and internally. Add on features like fly-throughs and 3D rotation in space and architects have a complete model they can explore and use to present ideas and design concepts and understand the implications every change has on the property as a whole.
To test and update designs
With simple testing and updating, architects and designers can work directly with clients and customers on the design and layout, whether that’s residential buyers choosing the interior design or commercial businesses assessing internal zoning to achieve maximum efficiency and the best return on investment.
To showcase concepts compellingly
It’s all well and good describing an idea or concept to a client with words or drawings, but it’s another thing entirely being able to show them in immersive 3D how it would (or will!) look in reality. Architects are renowned for pushing boundaries and wanting to bring often extraordinary concepts to life that can be hard to get on board with if you’re not privy to their vision but are carrying the cost. With digital 3D models they can demonstrate the what, how and why to their clients, validating concepts, justifying costs and in doing so shaping our future skylines with ever newer, more exciting, more sustainable architecture.
To perform spatial analysis
Proper spatial analysis gives architects a complete understanding of the property – how it functions, how it interacts with its environment and how people can move through and use it. This gives architects the opportunity to fine tune every aspect of its use to make it more efficient, more cost effective and more sustainable in everything from energy use to traffic flow.
To market and sell before building
Just because a project hasn’t been built shouldn’t be a hurdle to being able to market and sell it effectively – indeed, getting investors on board is often an essential first step to making a project viable. With a fully functioning and complete digital 3D model, it’s much easier to help clients, customers and investors buy in to the concept and see exactly where their investment is going or what they’re actually buying. Use them in everything from TV and online commercials to promotional materials and presentations and at events and exhibits.
Nomoko 3D models bring projects to life
Nomoko 3D models recreate the real world digitally. We can currently capture your chosen location anywhere in Switzerland and deliver custom 3D models that integrate your designs into photorealistic environments to help you plan, visualize and design your projects. Fully compatible with existing softwares, we can deliver them as FBX and OBJ files so you can integrate your own CAD models as well as Twinmotion and Unity – or you can ask us to do it for you to create almost any output you want. With our models you can:
Create dedicated videos
Showcase your project potential with dynamic videos – set your own viewing angles to highlight specific features, create fly-throughs to give a point of view experience inside and out and simulate experiences like weather and seasons.
Create targeted images
Explore properties and features from multiple angles in super high resolution and add elements like weather and traffic to better understand potential local and environmental impacts. And of course, use them to showcase and sell your project.
Orthophotos accurately map the Earth’s surface from above with little to no distortion and uniform scale and geometry. Use them as a precise reference tool to plan projects, measure true distances and set scale in extreme detail.
Create immersive experiences
Import your 3D models into 3D and virtual reality (VR) platforms and you can create fully immersive and interactive 3D tours of your project so anyone, anywhere can explore them in detail at their own leisure.
Turn them into physical 3D models
We’ve talked a lot about the role physical 3D models have played in architecture for thousands of years. Even as they’re being usurped by their digital successors, modern technology means you can take your digital 3D model and quickly and inexpensively 3D print it, so you get the best of both worlds.
Geometrically and texturally ultra accurate, Nomoko 3D models create aesthetically pleasing and extremely versatile environments for CAD models that are time and cost efficient and available in multiple output formats. And, as we capture locations on demand, our data is always up to date and accurate.
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