In the design and development of Royal Columbian Hospital (RCH) Mental Healthcare Facility, Stantec employed real time visualization and virtual reality in the review of interior spaces for user meetings. Nursing, janitorial and doctoral teams were able to experience the space and interact with on the fly changes. In this use case, "true to life" wasn't important since this was design review and the "real life" version of the space didn't exist. However, an unprecedented level of presence in design was achieved that transcended typical drawings and renderings.
The Nursing team review revealed that the types of storage that had been specified were too small in some areas and too generous in others and mentioned that these were things they never would have noticed without the aid of the new VR technology. Reviewing in the Oculus Rift headset and navigating in a first-person perspective on a large screen helped to provide better design response to closet and drawer space.
Stantec using Enscape and TwinMotion as our real-time render-engines. Enscape is a plug-in to our design authoring software that allowed Stantec to make changes on the fly in the meetings Fraser Health Authority and the hospital user teams. This allowed the moving of walls and furniture to occur at the direction of the stakeholders in the meeting. Typically, changes would be recorded in meeting-minutes, taken back to the office, delegated to the team to pick up the changes and await the next user meeting to readdress the changes/comments. Having the ability to showcase ideas on the fly allowed for a much more integrated approach to design problem solving.
Travel paths and work simulation were our primary visualization focus. Since our focus was on higher purpose space concepts, texture and atmospheric affects were softened to focus on design ideas and principles. We did create focused spaces to review so that the entirety of the hospital was removed from that particular review. This had two benefits. One, it focused the particular visualization session and allowed for many people to experience the space. Two, it lessened the amount of computing required to visualize in real time. The entire hospital project amounted to a little over 15 gigabytes of raw Revit content. Converting that into a typical game engine (Unity or Unreal) would have been a herculean effort and would have not been able to make changes on the fly.
Real time visualization was a game changer for RCH Mental Health that allowed for many more considerations within the interior and exterior spaces. The Fraser Health Authority and the stakeholders of the project were also delighted to be a part of the design in a way that made sense to them and was visually accessible. As a design and engineering firm, Stantec reaped the benefits of knowing the design was of a higher quality by having the client participate with "presence" in the design process.