Is the display suite of the future virtual?

Virtual reality is currently making a comeback after an initial showing in the early to mid 90's. The uptake in the industry particularly with architects is high, with a number of firms using it not only as a design tool to test concepts and ideas quickly but also to communicate designs to clients as part of the design process for example the sign-off on materials and for planning purposes.

During my time at Grimshaw we used both the Oculus and Vive headsets on a number of projects including the Olderfleet project at 477 Collins Street. It was very useful in really getting an understanding of the proportions of various spaces, how certain materials worked together, the junctions between various elements and the overall composition of these spaces.

Virtual reality also has applications in the realms of sales and marketing of projects with some agents using VR to sell their product

Projects Director at Marshall White Leonard Teplin has previously offered the following insight with regard to the advent of virtual and augmented reality and the opportunities they present when it comes to apartment marketing. 

This generation has changed the game; they are heavily reliant on the digital sphere and entrust it with major life decisions. People plan dates, book accommodation and apply for jobs with people they’ve never met and in places they’ve never been, online every day – so why would we expect any less of them when it comes to purchasing property.

Virtual reality is the perfect solution for taking your product interstate or internationally, without having to build display suites or rely on printed or digital advertising material.

You're providing buyers with a fully immersive experience of the apartment and we expect more and more developers to embrace the concept.

Melbourne Quarter's interactive display suite. Image: Supplied

A developer I spoke with recently believes that with their luxury development in the inner city in particular, nothing quite contends with the ability to provide clients with the opportunity to physically walk through a space and touch the surfaces. In one instance a potential client even brought in an item to the display suite to ascertain whether or not it would fit in the sink and oven.

Developer Lendlease has developed two distinct interactive display suites for its Melbourne Quarter development in Docklands, to provide buyers with a different perspective. The first is the Melbourne Quarter Leasing and Information Centre, designed for business-focused stakeholder interactions, briefings and meetings, while the second - the Melbourne Quarter Apartment and Sales Display Centre - has been designed to interact with prospective purchasers through technology which showcases what life within a Melbourne Quarter residence will look like. 

Virtual reality goggles give buyers the chance to step inside residential amenities like swimming pools, gyms, spas and our New York-style Skypark before they have been built to experience the precinct in real time and scale.

- Lendlease, Managing Director for urban regeneration, Mark Menhinnitt

Melbourne Quarter Leasing and Information Centre

•The Digital Lendlease story wall is a series of five iPads that visitors can use to explore Lendlease projects, including a project overview, sustainability credentials, awards and imagery.

•Three projectors display imagery and videos of Melbourne city and Melbourne Quarter branding across two walls in the sales office providing an immersive projection experience. The “View” setting shows views from the top level in the commercial tower controlled via a jog wheel

Melbourne Quarter Apartment Sales and Display Centre

•Controlled by an iPad, a 3D digital printed model of Melbourne’s CBD highlights amenities surrounding Melbourne Quarter, such as transport routes, cafes, restaurants and parklands.

•The East Tower viewline app is an interactive app shows the views from each level of East Tower.

•Used across the residential and commercial centres, virtual reality headsets give users the experience of actually being in Melbourne Quarter’s Skypark, Neighbourhood Park and resident amenity facilities

VR headsets allow for immersive experiences and views. Image: Supplied


While there are obviously a number of benefits associated with virtual display suites over the more traditional suites such as the cost of fit-out and the ability to showcase a project internationally with nothing more than some equipment, a laptop, a tablet or mobile and a headset.

It also allows for real time changes to be made and the testing of various material palettes then and there, right on the spot. However VR at this point in time is not without its limitations. One being the inability to touch and feel materials, feel the warmth of the sun, the ability to pull drawers and push doors and physically measure a space or a kitchen bench or bring in a tray to see if it fits in the oven.

Older purchasers in particular are more drawn to the physical rather than the digital and so a display suite fit-out still has a target audience. 

I'm of the view that the traditional display suite isn't dead just yet but moving forward will be supplemented by more and more digital media such as augmented reality and virtual reality.


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