STUDIO | Virtual Spaces

Virtual Spaces Master Studio is an experimental master design class by the Institute of Architecture and Media for the summer semester of 2016, with the aim of introducing and engaging architects in the space of virtual reality as a new platform for architectural design.

With the recent popularisation of head-mounted displays (HMDs) in the last few years, we have seen VR technology adopted in the architectural discipline for the purpose of visualisation, design evaluation and marketing strategies. However, we hold that Virtual Reality can be of a much greater benefit for architecture having an immense potential to lend. Though VR has been largely popularised in the last few years, it has a history of more than 2 decades in scentific -cognitive and psychological- experiments, due to its ability to consistently simulate controlled environments, and  credibility to yield qualitative results, as the observed behaviour in many instances is close to the one of a similar real-word situation. On the other hand,  commercially available and affordable HMDs and computing power reached the point today where they can deliver unobstructed VR experiences, that can be developed and deployed using game design software.

Given the credibility of VR as well as the experience quality offered by contemporary hardware, the intention of the studio is to utilise Virtual Reality as a spatial medium, in which to articulate and develop concepts of interactive, spatio-temporal environments that can only be experienced in this digital from of reality.

The design approach is essentially a fusion between technical and conceptual tools such as concept design and narrative development, scripting and app development, interaction design, 3d modelling, sound design, storyboarding, video editing and so on. The development process will go through, analyse and draw ideas from various sources like video games, films, novels and architecture and critical theory articles, and besides VR the students will experiment with alternative creative media through which to convey spatial concepts and concepts such as text, sound, video and 2d graphics.

The VR setup is wireless and full-body immersive, based on a combination of hardware, consisting of GearVR headsets with Samsung Galaxy S6 phones, used in a space tracked by Kinect V2 sensors that can follow 25 points of a user’s skeleton, synchronised with the android app through a web cloud in real-time.

The studio will work with the Unity3D game engine. All course assignments and output will be in digital format. No previous programming experience is necessary, fluency with 3d modelling, as well as vector and image editing tools though is.

Final Review
June 30th, with invited jury : Jan Markus Ludwig  [wideshot entertainment], Lewis Scott [VizConnected] and Florian Fend [IAM].

Guest Lectures
Michael Hansmeyer [Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna] – “Tools of Imagination” (IAM guest for the Graz Architecture Lectures 2016) [x]
Prof. Werner Jauk [Musicology Institute, KFU-Graz] – “Sound to (auditory) space” [x]
IOhannes zmölnig [Institute of Electronic Music, Kunst Uni Graz] – Pure Data and granular synthesis

The studio was sponsored with GearVR headsets and mobile phones by Drei Austria [x].

TU Graz VR Night, public exhibition, 28.06.2016, with the Institutes CGV, ICG, IICM of TU Graz in cooperation with Fraunhofer Austria [x]
Graz Open Architecture Day, public exhibition, 01.07.2016 [x]
Night of the Museums 01.10.2016 – MUWA, Graz [upcoming]

Edna Basanovic, Björn Gerd Seidl, David Seiwald, Felix Obermair, Ines Zajkic, Kathrin Julia Wutte, Kelly Man, Ludwig Grimm, Michael Deutsch, Philipp Glanzner, Philipp Schnitzhofer, Primoz Brglez, Xin Guo

Ludwig Grimm
Julian Jauk
Martin Schrotz

Teaching team
Constantinos Miltiadis
Prof. Urs Hirschberg

The studio as well as the electives are taught in English.

Course website: https://iam.tugraz.at/studio16s/

Virtual Spaces Master Studio
Summer Semester 2016
Institute of Architecture and Media, TU Graz


Note: obligating course:
161.806 Architecture & Film
161.804 Interdisciplinary Media



Elective, Compulsory, Master, SS 16, studio


Hirschberg Urs Leonhard
Miltiades Constantinos


Grimm Ludwig
Jauk Julian
Schrotz Martin Helmut