[UPDATE: We have now published an eBook about Architectural Visualization with Unity3D (including a chapter about Oculus Rift) that can be purchased HERE.]

tl;dr – Oculus Rift early prototype build download here.

Architectural visualization generally focuses on highlighting the merits of a single building, in a relatively narrow context. However, from a community and city planning point of view, the more interesting question is how well or how poorly a new building will impact the city on a holistic level. How does the building look, and how does it transform the city when experienced within the larger fabric of the city’s built environment?

Most of what we have been exploring with Virtual Cities initiative, starting with Virtual Dubuque, has been about how 3D city replicas can be used to understand cities in a deeply immersive way – rather than the abstract experience of Google Earth, or the photos from Street View, we wanted to make the virtual city experience more accessible, customizable, data-rich environments that convey a more holistic understanding of what it’s like to actually be in the city.

Embedding a window into the city on a website is a start, and probably the most accessible to the largest possible audience, but experiencing the city through a technology like Oculus Rift takes it to a whole new level. I can easily imagine lots of applications in city planning and community engagement, in cases where a new building will dramatically impact the city, to be able to more fully understand exactly what the building will look like before construction starts. Traditional animation and illustration simply cannot convey the reality of a new building in the way that VR can.

If you have an Oculus Rift, you can explore one of our early prototype models of Virtual Dubuque. The model has come a long ways since this build that will be published in our next phase, but it gives you a sense of what is possible on a city wide level with virtual reality.

You can download it here:https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/5720342/Virtual-Dubuque-Main-Street.zip



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