Author Archives: 01 Luke Diewald

Unity 3D Game Engine

For the research project I selected the Unity Game Engine, or Unity 3D to study, and how it applies to architecture. Unity is a cross platform game engine. This makes it extremely hard to pin point exactly what Unity is capable of. It can create mobile applications, full in browser experiences, animations, and interactive projects. This opens up the potential options that Unity has to offer for architecture much more than other Game engines can currently offer. While CryENGINE from Crytek and others are stronger tools fro video game experiences, the flexibility of Unity lends to larger potential.

The most obvious option for using the Unity Game engine in the field of architecture is for interactive client walk throughs. Architecture firms can export Revit Models into 3DS Max and from 3DS Max into Unity. This model is just a quick demonstration, but could be applied to larger buildings, or detail could be added:

Clients and designers could explore the projects together and could lead to a better dialogue and understanding by both groups. In addition, the actual builders of the project could understand and collaborate much better than today.

These “walk throughs” could be devoted to material and realistic lighting conditions through the use of screen space ambient occlusion (SSAO). SSAO is the process in which the engine calculates how light radiates in real life, especially on non-reflective materials. This would allow designers to see in real time how light interacts with the space they have created. This video shows a basic demo of how unity can be used to observe how light can be affected in spaces we have designed:

Something that could also be used with the “walk through” is the option of conducting research on how an actual human would attempt to exit the building in an emergency system. Instead of using other programs and algorithms, actual subjects could be observed interacting with the space before the building is ever built. Not only can unity be used as a visualization tool, but it can be used as a design tool.

The interactive nature of game engines like unity lend themselves to immediate results in design studies. Without having to build multiple models, and render them as different options, firms (and indeed other types of design companies can use it instantaneous outcomes). In fact one Swedish window company already has an example of this:

This web based use of the unity game engine shows how a designer could use different elements in a project and immediately see the effects of decisions. This Company in particular allows customers to create spaces and control window placement, type, and size. You can see how these affect the light in the room immediately.

With these tools ALREADY available to architects, we could immediately start to implement some of these examples into the field. These tools, in particular the live demonstration could lead to a much larger appreciation of the field, and would lead to better environments. The clients, and certainly the designers, would feel closer to the project and would be more invested in the construction and development of new surroundings.

3.3 Real time visualization with Unity Game Engine

Unity Game Engine By Unity Techcologies

Demonstrations of Spaces Using the Unity Engine:



Real Time Interaction With Spaces:

In Browser Demos From Unity:

Future Game Engines:


P1_Luke Diewald_01

In the Summer of 2011 Biao Hu, a professor at Hunan University’s School of Architecture hosted a lab with the theme “Aggregated Porosity.” This lab explored material density and the juxtaposition of skeletal and solid forms to create a structure that provided shade and fit within a 10’x10’x20′ area. Suryansh Chandra and Yu Du from Zaha Hadid Architects were also invited to participate as tutors for the project.

I believe that this project could influence either the wall or the suspended part of the project. One aspect that I find particularly interesting and beautiful is the juxtaposition of the skeletal frame and the solid forms. Something like this could work particularly well in the Niehoff studio by relating to the existing skeletal structure. Additionally there is nothing stopping us from using this duality to the “walls” in fact it would only increase the depth and visual interest of something that is usually so plain and uninspiring.

The way in which we choose to use the solid could either enhance the acoustics of the space by amplifying the sounds, or we could seek to control the spread of the volume in order to allow multiple isolated things to be happening in the same space. Overall, I think this project is beautiful and can serve as a great starting point in trying to add depth to a seemingly simple design problem.