Old New Frontier

Architecture in Virtual Reality

00 Home 01 VR 02 Public Space 03 Building 05 Axonometric 04 Plans 06 Program 06 Contact

Over the next few years, virtual reality will precipitate the production of an infinite amount of new space. If architecture is the design of space, then it should be the responsibility of architects to design this new territory. This proposal explores the role of architects in determining the design culture of virtual reality. The rapid proliferation of free and abundant space paired with inexpensive design tools and the emergence of a new class of builders, questions the demand for highly trained designers. Due to the unique nature, specifically, the lack of physical and financial limitations, design in virtual reality may be superficially understood to be driven purely by aesthetics, but it necessarily also always includes psychology and politics.
The research is expressed in the form of a megastructure that will be constructed in a virtual world. The plans for the building as well as the axonometric scenes were each done as a series of 32 watercolor paintings. The building contains 85 interconnected programs that span between 31 levels and a rooftop garden.
This project began as a master's thesis at John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design under the mentorship of Jeannie Kim.

Virtual Reality

The research led to the creation of 32 watercolors depicting different uses for virtual reality which focus on the increased availability of space and types of space. These use cases are treating the virtual world as a new type of space and not as a tool. The difference is that virtual reality can be a tool to model physical space or a destination in itself. While both are important implementations this thesis is more interested in virtual worlds as a destination. The appeal of unlimited space is often overlooked by affluent westerners who already have access to all types of space but for many people, this new technology will produce a massive change.

Public Space

Treating virtual reality as a new type of public space led to the creation of an additional 32 watercolors depicting uses of public space that can be translated into virtual worlds. The uses include examples of public space being used as it was intended as well as uses that have emerged spontaneously.

A Virtual Building

To describe my project in one sentence I would say that I am designing a building in virtual reality that my grandmother would like to visit. This desire speaks to the importance of creating a space that is accessible to people of any age and physical ability. A large part of accessibility that is often overlooked in technology is the level of alienation that is either a deliberate feature or a bug of any given design. While this new technology of the data revolution has given us powers that were previously only prescribed to our gods, it has also created an unprecedented amount of alienation. Currently, virtual reality is following the same path that we saw in the design of the internet. In the beginning, the internet was designed by programmers who had no design training and as a result, produced a version of the internet that was unnavigable and unappealing. It was only when graphic designers realized that the design of the internet was really the design of text and images, that people started to think about the internet as something to be designed. In many art and design schools, the Department of Visual Communications gave birth to a new department which they called Interactive Design. Websites received a redesign based on new theories of user interface and user experience. Lawmakers responded by making certain forms of accessibility mandatory. Gradually older people began to discover the internet and gained the ability to rejoin the global conversation.


The 85 programs that span throughout the building are designed to be accessed by people who are currently unable to access certain types of space do to financial or physical disabilities. They are clustered together in a way that will necessitate discovery and meeting points. This cultivates serendipity and helps negate the tunnel vision often associated with digital technologies.


These programs were chosen to provide a balance between privacy and sociability. They are derived from researching ways people use public space and how they may want to use virtual worlds in ways that are adjacent to their physical reality and not an escape.


The buildings program includes:
Train station, Entry hall Help desk, River, Bulletin board, Television Studio, Editing Room Baseball field, Basketball stadium, Arcade, Stables , Show room, Recording studio, Model Storage, Interior walkway, Diner, Casino, Small production theater, Outdoor cafe, Bicycle path, Gazebo, Meeting rooms, Park, Grass field, Office park, Church, Mosque, Meditation center, Jail cell, Motel room, Pocket park, Bar, Small room, Birch forest, Synagogue, Memorial, Sculpture garden, Family diner room, Temple, Parking lot, Dog park, Mechanic, Hall, Park benches, Photo studio, Stop motion studio, Motion capture, 3d scanning, Fall colored forest, Cherry blossom, Boxing ring, Gym, Butterfly sanctuary, Classrooms, English garden, Swimming pool, Aquaponics farm, Greenhouse, Pine forest, BC Shore, Cat room, Ice Skating rink, Empty room, Memory palace, Amphitheatre, Japanese bathhouse, Diary, Library, Generic event space, Work pods, Hoarders house, Museum, Botanical gardens, Zoo, Conference room, Aquarium Tea house Opera house Nature conservatory, planetarium, Art studio, Green roof, Observatory,

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Avi Odenheimer | 2021