Human Spaces The Osaka Experience

First Stop: DONTSTOP architettura – Milano

For the first time visitors from outside our lab crossed the entrance of the pavilion that Sacripanti imagined for the 1970 Osaka International Expo.

The first tickets for a preview of the experience went to DONTSTOP architettura, an architecture studio founded in Milan in 2011 by Michele Brunello and Marco Brega, who welcomed us to discuss with them the adventure of T.E.A.M. followed by a visit to the pavilion. Maurizio De Caro, an architect, architecture theorist and critic and founder of Maurizio De Caro/Architects&Planners, joined the visit.

DONTSTOP is a multidisciplinary studio that involves itself with architecture, urban planning and exhibit design. Their dynamic approach, always open to debate and encouraging innovation, has stimulated a fruitful discussion on the integration of the medium of virtual reality in the design process. We considered the different ways to approach this according to the type of user and the objective to be achieved.

In Milan, some studios are already using VR to show buildings and apartments still under construction. Large real estate investments and an increasingly international market have stimulated this technological transition. In the search for ever more innovative ways of approaching the market, VR has been recognized as a tool that on the one hand captures the attention of the end customer and on the other allows for some customization of the building interiors.

In these specific cases the power of increasingly capable computers along with their hard-wired headsets allow them to show the environment with a fair degree of realism.

Drawing from these concepts, we discussed the benefit of this approach, which essentially involves moving the rendering and video of a project from the two-dimensional screen to the three-dimensionality of the VR headset.

This may be a successful approach in real estate, but are we sure it’s beneficial in the design process? Is it always necessary to achieve photorealism to have a sense of the space we are designing?

After experiencing OSAKA ’70 one realizes that in fact, within the virtual environment, spatiality can be measured through other parameters.These parameters are not of texture or material, but are rather more related to the boundary between full and empty, the interaction of volumes, and, above all, the dynamic relationship that is generated between the user and the space itself. Moreover, the way in which the VR experience has been designed for the user makes a considerable difference, as in the case of a “guided tour” – the interaction that develops with the visitors helps them understand the project and can help highlight key aspects of it.

At the beginning of our research we chose to develop exclusively for Oculus Quest, the only platform to date that allows us to remain completely disconnected from an external PC while using our hands rather than controllers to interact in the VR environment. This, we believe, is already a good starting point to put the user at ease.

With Michele Brunello, Shanti Alberti, Andrea Angeli and Maurizio De Caro we had the opportunity to discuss this and other inspiring topics. One of the considerations that emerged was the versatility of this tool in the scaling process. From micro to macro –  from the scale of interior design to urban – it is possible to design a narrative that holds all the pieces of a complex project together. 

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