This study explores the potential for British housing developers to use virtual reality
(VR) for the design and evaluation of housing developments. Four research questions
were formulated after a review of relevant literature on house-building, VR
technology and industrial innovation. These cover the context, technical problems
and implementation issues related to VR use in the house-building industry.
To address these questions the following tasks were undertaken: firstly a survey of the
top 100 British housing developers' use of computer-aided design (CAD) and
visualisation software and their attitudes to VR; secondly practical trials of PC-based
VR systems for the modelling of housing developments; thirdly a case study of VR
implementation in a British house-building company; and fourthly a multiple case
study of VR use in Japanese house-building companies.
The overall research problem is addressed by recourse to the findings of the different
research methods. The use of IT and the house-building organisation, similarities and
differences between CAD and VR implementation, and comparison between Japanese
and British house-builders VR use are discussed. VR in house-building practice and
policy is then considered.
A number of general conclusions are drawn from this study. First, that PC-based VR
is of use to British housing developers for explaining design intent to non-designers,
both within and outside to the organisation. Second, that housing developers' use of
virtual reality at the early design stages is hampered by the current state of the
technology. Third, that organisational transformation is required for housing
developers to implement and obtain maximum benefit from virtual reality.
Finally future scenarios are explored to provide the house-building industry and
policy makers with information on which to base decisions about how to invest or
promote investment in virtual reality.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.