The use of VR and AR in architecture and construction

In this new content we come to talk about what it is and the use we make of augmented reality and virtual reality in architecture and construction.

If you are interested in learning more about it, read on and we will tell you about it in detail. It is a developing field that promises to grow a lot in the coming years.

What is virtual and augmented reality?

Augmented reality and virtual reality (usually abbreviated as AR and VR respectively) are technologies that enhance or replace the real environment with a simulated one where they provide a number of benefits to the viewer.

These two types of technologies are to some extent complementary and can be applied in hundreds of fields, from video games such as the famous Pokémon Go to the latest 3D design software or the metaverse.

To delve deeper into how these technologies influence architecture, it is important to start by understanding the differences.


What is the difference between VR and AR?

To put it very simply, in virtual reality the user almost always wears a flashy headset and visor to completely replace the real world with a virtual one. 

The idea of virtual reality is to remove as much of the real world as possible and isolate the user from it by putting their senses outside of it. 

Once inside, the VR universe can be coded to deliver almost anything from a race in a video game to a realistic (but completely fictional) recreation of Earth’s landscapes. 

While VR has some business applications in product design, training, architecture and retail, most current VR applications are designed for entertainment.

Augmented Reality (AR), on the other hand, is a technology that allows virtual elements to be superimposed on our view of reality, enhancing our perception of reality and our experience.

Therefore we see that the use of augmented reality has a relationship with the real world and its application in it, which differentiates it from Virtual Reality where there is no connection with reality.


How is augmented reality used in architecture?

In essence, what augmented reality allows in architecture is to see what an architectural work will look like by virtually adding elements that will later be incorporated in real life. 

This, as we can imagine, saves a lot of time and money, while providing greater security to both architects and builders or clients when interacting with a construction.

Calculations and designs can be seen at first hand how they will look in the environment, allowing precise adjustments to be made without having to wait to see the finished structure.


Benefits of augmented reality in construction and architecture

Augmented reality is applied to the entire construction process and can be present in all phases, from design through to execution, presentation and maintenance of the work.

  • Design: At the design level, augmented reality allows us to design in real time on the ground and carry out the necessary measurements and adjustments in order to achieve a better final construction, or to take into account all the details of the orography that may affect us.
  • Execution: Augmented reality makes it possible to visualise in detail what the work should look like before it is executed. This allows builders to visualise directly and more clearly how it will be completed and to use augmented reality to find out if everything is progressing correctly.
  • Commercial: One of the main headaches is the consensus of the design and the work with the client. What augmented reality allows is that the client will be able to visualise clearly and in their real environment how the work will look in great detail, so that they can transmit whether their idea is being implemented correctly.
  • Maintenance: The maintenance of a building is almost as important as its conception for it to be functional for many years. Augmented reality helps us to focus on the important points and to make decisions quickly and without errors. What happens if we have a lot of identical pipes and we are not able to identify the one we have to touch? Well, augmented reality offers us the information in situ and without the possibility of errors when it comes to making critical decisions.

realidad aumentada arquitectura

Which programmes are used in architecture and can be considered as part of virtual or augmented reality?

Let’s now take a look at some of the best-known programmes and applications used in architecture to apply augmented reality to designs and constructions.


Trace Morpholio AR Sketchwalk

Trace is the all-in-one design and architecture application that allows you to easily develop layered ideas, communicate by highlighting drawings and work seamlessly through all phases of the design process. 

The AR Sketchwalk functionality is what allows us to immerse ourselves in our own sketches through augmented reality, giving clients as well as architects and engineers a more realistic idea of the designed space.


DAQRI Smart Helmet

The Daqri Smart Helmet creates a complete map of the entire environment: from structures under construction to those that have just been drawn. 

Data captured with the included video camera and microphone can be digitised and shared instantly, as it can work with WiFi, Bluetooth or GPS, making the most of augmented reality (and 4D technology). 

It is the ideal solution for any type of construction site, even the most inaccessible and logistically complex.



ARki is a service that incorporates augmented reality technology into architecture and provides 3D models with different levels of interactivity for both design and real-time presentation. 

It can be used on any iOS/Android device.



With Augment you only need to add some 2D images and specifications to 3D Factory and you will get a high quality 3D model ready for AR.

Once the 3D model is ready, you can check its quality using the 3D Viewer. Once validated, the 3D model is saved in the 3D Vault and is ready to be placed wherever you need it.

This application is available for smartphones and tablets and is used by designers and marketing teams, reducing prototyping costs and increasing the attractiveness of the work to clients.



Gamma AR is BIM + augmented reality for architecture and construction.

It uses augmented reality to accurately position BIM models of the site, allowing each team member to easily compare construction progress and the project’s BIM model in real time.

By connecting the project and the office, Gamma AR helps to improve communication and bring more clarity to the project.

The application is also capable of detecting errors in real time, allowing you to track progress and provide feedback on the various components of the project.

This application is available for Android and iOS


Final conclusion

As we see virtual reality, and even more so augmented reality, allow architecture and construction to go a step further thanks to the advantages offered by real-time visualisation of how a work will look, or what are the right decisions to make regarding the work to be developed.

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