Motivation and morale.

The reality of VR.

This autumn, the latest series of the BBC’s DIY SOS: The Big Build will feature the Grenfell Community Project. A new boxing club and a two-storey community building – designed and built by volunteers with company donations – will give residents valuable communal spaces. Recently, we took our virtual reality (VR) setup to the construction site to bring the designs to life for all involved and, in the process, were reminded of the extraordinary power of VR…

What we should do is take every single person on the job to look at this, so they can see what it is they are heading towards. Wow! I can see the air conditioning units, the artwork on the wall, the windows with the sunlight coming through… Absolutely incredible.

Nick Knowles


Like no other

“We all see and hear so much about the use of virtual reality in construction nowadays that it’s easy to forget how powerful it can be. Even for me, who works with it regularly, there’s still nothing like putting on the headset and suddenly being transported into a completely new space.

“Our London office had volunteered its expertise to the DIY SOS project. Almost all our specialisms were helping to design the spaces, so it felt right when my team got the go-ahead to create visualisations as well. The construction stage was going to be just as tight as the design process had been, so we knew the hard-working build team would eventually need a morale boost; creating a full VR experience (rather than just 2D visualisations) was the way to go.

“The process of creating the virtual environment was unlike anything we’d undertaken previously. Typically, we receive detailed agreed plans, interior layouts and product specifications. However, for a project like this – where every material is sourced for free – the design process can be very ‘sketchy’, so we set out working almost blind! As our teams fed us detailed design and the architect got more information about the proposed flooring, finishes, furniture, and paintwork, we quickly generated drafts and revisions... producing them faster than ever before, right up until the day we were due on site.

“The energy on site sky-rocketed that day. After experiencing the VR, the team and community members compared their experiences, pointing out their favourite aspects and excitedly working out how that translated to the build taking place around them; the interior designer even suggested changes after seeing what aspects were working. It was a reminder of how taking information and making it ‘real’ is often the most effective injection of morale people on a project can get.”


Marta Bisson, Senior Engineer, shares her experience of working on the DIY SOS project.

“Everybody across the entire team – from architects, steelwork specialists, and acousticians to electricians and equipment manufacturers – had volunteered their time to make this project succeed. I’d gone from being sat in rooms with more than 25 people, all from different disciplines, trying to find workable solutions … to just a few months later feeling as though I was in the space itself as our designs were brought to life in VR.Experiencing the immersive VR for the first time was an emotional moment for me — our CGI team did an incredible job! The model was so good that I couldn’t tell the difference from reality.When I walked into the finished building, I felt like I had been there before.”


The future belongs to the curious.

Challenge accepted.

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