seminar: Design in the Age of Metaverse and Extended Reality

ARCH 7036-004 / ARCH5051.Elective Arch Theory Seminar.  Spring semester. DAAP, UC.
Design in the Age of Metaverse and Extended Reality

Instructor: Ming Tang.  Director, Extended Reality Lab. XR-Lab, Associate Professor, SAID, DAAP, University of Cincinnati


This seminar course focuses on the intersection of architecture design, and interior design with immersive visualization technologies, including Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Digital Twin, social VR, and real-time simulation. The class will explore the new spatial experience in the virtual realm and analyze human perceptions through hand-tracking, body-tracking, haptic simulation, and various sensory inputs. Students will learn both the theoretical framework and hands-on skills on XR development. The course will provide students exposure to the Oculus Quest, Teslasuit, Hololens technologies, and wearable sensors. Students are encouraged to propose their own or group research on the subject of future design with XR.

Hardware: Oculus Quest, and Hololens were provided by the course.

Student Research Project

Digital Twin

AR for community engagement. Price Hill



Recommended podcast on Metaverse



Augmented Craftmanship @CAADRIA


Tang, M. Augmented Craftmanship: assessing augmented reality for design-build education. 27th International Conference of the Association for Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia (CAADRIA). Sydney, Australia. April. 2022

Project “Augmented Craftmanship: assessing augmented reality for design-build education” is exhibited in the 2022 CAADRIA conference project exhibition.

Augmented Reality (AR) has been used in Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry by offering digital overlays on top of the physical world. AR includes two categories of devices. The first is the head-mounted displays and glasses such as Hololens or Magic Leap. The second is hand-held devices such as mobile phones and tablets. AR brings virtual objects and data into the physical world rather than immersing the wearer in wholly virtual reality. For instance, Hololens actively maps the physical space in three dimensions using several types of cameras on the visor and uses this data to place virtual objects realistically within. Holographic virtual objects are superimposed within physical space using light reflected off a transparent lens into the eyes. Thus, the non-physical hologram cannot obscure the physical world, but they can be interacted with.

Over the past few years, AR has been used in the AEC industry for project planning and management, workforce training, BIM integration, and construction site inspection. The AR technology is becoming an ‘ultimate display’ that will allow us to explore, discover, evaluate, and improve our design. (Tang, 2018)  [1]  This research focuses on assessing Microsoft HoloLens AR for design-build education, specifically using AR to assist the physical model making. Students were empowered to consider using AR to help various responsibilities architects, engineers, and builders provided in practice. This pedagogical method actively questions where the “translation between immaterial and material can be learned from both architects and builders.” (Tang, 2021) [2]

We taught how to use AR to enhance both small-scale and full-scale architecture installations through several design-build courses. With the emergence of digital modeling and fabrication technologies, a growing obsession with digital formalism is more evident in the new generation of students. This tech-heavy process often results in increasing complexity of 3D form.  However, digital technology is usually being harvested as a tool to create unique formal complexities but has little ground in the traditional build process. Renzo Piano adds that “An architect must be a craftsman… someone who does not separate the work of the mind from the work of the hand” (Piano 1992). [3] “Craft” is associated with materials and tools and is traditionally understood as making with physical materials.  We define and explore the nature of craftsmanship or builders’ role in today’s digital, analog or hybrid environments, including AR technology.

The team has implemented the AR through Fologram App in Hololens and Grasshopper-driven UI. The AR interface allows image tagging and hand gestures to interact with the virtual objects. The focus is on whether the AR can help the designer achieve accuracy during the “making” process. The team experimented with installations that investigated AR to assist the small-scale and full-scale construction processes.  Joint, material, and new assembly methods were examined while utilizing Microsoft HoloLens.  Precedent research was conducted to compare and understand relations between hologram and other mobile-phone-based AR methods to gauge their impact on the AEC industry.

Large Scale project. AR for project planning and management

In this project, several full-scale wood frame installations were constructed without AR. The AR model is used for students to test veracious “decorating” schemes using various materials and assembling methods. The AR model provided an onsite visualization for the designers to evaluate how their proposed add-ons will affect the spatial experience. Then the selected proposal is fabricated and installed. AR helped to pinpoint the joint position during construction.

The following three small-scale projects experimented with AR to augment the build process. “We must not separate the work of the mind from the work of the hand.” (Tang, 2016) [4]. Specifically, the following projects are trying to find a new augmented build process essential for architecture students and construction workers in the AEC industry.

AR for assembling work

AR is used to augment the “assembling” process in this project. AR provides visuals for a complex spatial frame structure. The 3D coordination of each frame is rendered in Hololens. Students use a hot-glue gun to weld all the frames following the holographic reference.

AR for cutting work

In this project, an image tag is attached to a hot-wire foam cutter to provide real-time anchoring for Hololens. A cutting guideline is provided through AR to the sculptor to control the angle of each cut. A digital sculpture is rendered in Hololens to provide sections and the normal direction of each surface.

AR for marking work

The installation includes hundreds of wool threads stretched in 3D space in this project. The challenge for students is to paint black ink to cover a section of every single thread. The goal is to create an optical illusion of a continuous 3D surface. A 3D holographic surface is rendered in Hololens to provide the anchor points for black ink for every thread. Students then painted the yarns with accuracy rapidly.


If there is a line between the physical world and the virtual world, that line has been blurred today with the emergence of AR. Perhaps, as David Pye suggested that the “workmanship of certainty” is an automated process where the result is predetermined before a single salable thing is made (Pye 1995). [5]. These AR approaches demonstrated the convergence of digital and analog methodologies influenced by these new build strategies. The new approach of the design-build process received much positive feedback from students. It would be a challenging task if we did not have AR-based 3D anchors, spatial mapping, and holographic overlay methods. However, these processes need a comprehensive understanding of the new build process and a customized UI to facilitate, requiring architects, builders, and AR developers to work as a team.


Hololens for Design-Build, University of Cincinnati.
Students: Alexandra Cole, Morgan Heald, Andrew Pederson,Lauren Venesy,Daniel Anderi, Collin Cooper, Nicholas Dorsey, ,John Garrison, Gabriel Juriga, Isaac Keller, Tyler Kennedy, Nikki Klein, Brandon Kroger, Kelsey Kryspin, Laura Lenarduzzi, Shelby Leshnak, Lauren Meister,De’Sean Morris, Robert Peebles, Yiying Qiu, Jordan Sauer, Jens Slagter, Chad Summe, David Torres, Samuel Williamson, Dongrui Zhu, Todd Funkhouser.
Project team lead: Jordan Sauer, Yiying Qiu, Robert Peebles,David Torres.

Installation. SAID, DAAP, University of Cincinnati
Base structure by 1st year SAID, students.
Add-on structure + Augmented Reality by ARCH3014 students.

GA: Robert Peebles, Lauren Meister, Damario Walker-Brown, Jordan Sauer, DanielAnderi. Faculty: Ming Tang

Check more Ming Tang’s AR projects.


[1] Tang, M. Architectural visualization in the age of mixed reality. Journal inForma. 11. Autumn 2018.

[2] Tang, M. Hu, Y., Hamaker, W., Mitchell, E. Architectural Interventions. Design-build collaboration on a global scale. UC Press. 2021. ISBN: 978-1-947603-14-1

[3]Piano, Renzo. Renzo Piano Building Workshop: in Search of a Balance. Tokyo: Process Architecture, 1992.

[4]Tang, M., Jordan, T. Digital Craft: New Mix of Process, Tools, and Material.Blur: d3:dialog, international journal of architecture + design. published by d3. 06. 2016

[5]. Pye, David. The nature and art of workmanship. 2nd ed. München: Herbert, 1995.

Burning Man project

Burning Man project from the ARCH 7014. Fall 2021. digital twin prototype.

Tools: Stage, Unreal, 3dsMax, Rhino.

Videos by students

Research on Digital Design, Computation and ARCH VIZ

Here are four groups of presentations by students at DAAP, UC on various topics related to Digital Design, Computation, ARCH VIZ.

Ming Tang. ARCH 7014 Fall 2021. University of Cincinnati

Group A.

  1. Impact of BIM on architecture and construction management
  2. Generative Design and multi-variable optimization Using Octopus Plugin In Rhino
  3. Using Grasshopper to apply brick patterns on polysurfaces
  4. Utilizing V-Ray for Rhino to create photorealistic renders
  5. The impact of Metaverse on social life. How can be advantageous and disadvantageous
  6. VR and Architecture, how its used and how it benefits to Architecture
  7. Voronoi Patterning + Parametric Modeling; research
  8. GIS Demo- how it can help your architecture
  9. Rhino inside Revit Plug in – General uses


Group B

  1. Demo using EvoMass Grasshopper Plug-in for Optimization-Based Design Exploration
  2. Using Animation to visualize Futurism in Architecture (Reference to Greg Lynn: Animate Form)
  3. Rhino Animation using Grasshopper
  4. Ladybug analysis of shading solutions for home in Eden Park – Generative Shade Design and Shade benefit analysis
  5. Revit + Dynamo (Generative Design)
  6. exploring lighting technology and rtx capabilities
  7. Environmental Analysis Plug-ins for Grasshopper
  8. Additive Digital Fabrication: Creating Controlled Chaos in 3D Printing
  9. site design plugin for rhino

Group C

  1. Generative design of buildings in Revit
  2. Maya Animation – Kinetic Architecture
  3. Demo of Pufferfish Plugin for Grasshopper
  4. Origami and parametric modeling
  5. LB for bldg evaluation. Environment performance
  6. Generative design of buildings in Revit
  7. How drones and aerial surveys can make construction and architecture more efficient and save costs
  8. Adobe After Effects Projection-Mapping -Placemaking/Wayfinding
  9. Demo using Fusion 360 for parametric design, animation, rendering

Group D

  1. using rhino to create models and forms using Sub D and surface modeling
    Part 3
  2. Visualization Techniques to Document Existing Buildings or Products Exploring AutoDesk ReCap – Photo
  3. Revit + Rhino inside Revit + GH + Dynamo for parametric solar-based facade and building design around existing structures
  4. Theory-based video essay on growing up with 3d software and games & its effects on a new generation of designers
  5. demo on basics of kangaroo grasshopper plugin to create interesting forms
  6. Use lumion to create a phasing animation of a building, 
    final result
  7. Using Vray to render a scene with caustics.
  8. Creating Digital Environments with Unreal + Quixel


student thesis 2020-2021

The Effect of Path Environment on Pedestrians’ Route Selection: A Case Study of University of Cincinnati, OH

Jing Tian. Master of Science in Architecture
Committee Chair: Ming Tang
Committee Member: Na Chen, Julian Wang


Accelerometers Image of the Three Participants in Route 2

In recent years, there are a growing number of researchers who have shown concern about the impact of the walking environment on human walking experience and route selection. However, most of the studies regarding the influence of the path environment on pedestrians’ route selection are concentrated on the urban level, ignoring the discussion on the architectural level. Taking the University of Cincinnati (Ohio, US) as an example, this study aims to investigate whether the difference in the environmental settings of each route will affect pedestrians’ walking experiences and future route selection, with the ultimate goal of ascertaining the underlying relationship between the route environments and the user behavior in the process of rout selection and implementation.

This study included three routes from the Langsam library to the CEAS library. The research methods included data analytics, questionnaires, and comparative analysis. Firstly, participants’ psychological and physiological data were collected through surveys and E4 Wristband, respectively. Secondly, Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was used to examine whether there was a significant difference in pedestrians’ walking experience among the three routes. Thirdly, through the analysis of the collected questionnaires, the factors that play an important role in pedestrians’ route selection were determined. Finally, all information about the physiological change of pedestrians within in a particular route was compared, including Electrodermal Activity (EDA), Blood Volume Pulse (HVP), Accelerometer (ACCE), and Skin Surface Temperature (TEMP).

In the end, it can be concluded that the three routes with different environmental settings bring different experiences to participants. More specifically, the level of comfort and openness of the route significantly affects the route selection of pedestrians, while the degree of fatigue during walking does not. The thermal environment of the route also affects the pedestrians’ route preferences. The pedestrians’ physiological experience varies significantly in the elevator hall and stairwell, as key nodes at each route. To sum up, for the transition space from outdoor to indoor, the factors affecting pedestrian route selection include the comfort, openness, and thermal environment. Based on this, it is necessary to take special consideration of the related environment setting of the elevator hall and stairwell in the route design process, which will have a certain influence on the route experience and selection of pedestrians.

Full paper

Virtually Interactive DAAP

Rishyak Chowdhary Kommineni. School of Design. Master of Design.
Committee Chair: Ming Tang
Committee Member: Muhammad Rahman

The past few years have seen an increase in the use of virtual reality (VR) among designers in an attempt to create interactive projects to embrace technological innovations and adapt to the challenges of the digital era. While there are studies that examine the advantages of VR in presentations, meetings, and visitor’s experiences with it, there aren’t many studies examining the experience of designers who are responsible for the interactive space and narratives. The aim of this paper is to explore the practices, experiences, and perceptions of designers on the use of VR technology during exhibitions. The perceived advantages and challenges of such technologies and their requirements for the technology to be implemented in the field of design with virtual interactions are being discussed.
The paper provides an in-depth analysis of interviews with a number of designers based on a live example, DAAPworks, an exhibition that takes place every year at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (UC DAAP). It has been converted into a virtual platform in Behance due to the pandemic (Covid-19) in the year 2019. A working prototype of the exhibition has been created for this thesis to establish a starting point for the Virtually Interactive DAAPworks project. The ultimate aim is to offer a more critical and methodological examination and assessment of the use of VR for design exhibitions and to provide suggestions for designing and developing virtually interactive spaces in the future.

Full paper