What does the future hold after Covid-19?

Life after this corona virus pandemic will not return to the same as it was before. We are at a junction of a new world emerging. The prevailing view is that despite the scale of one of the most unprecedented declines since the end of World War II, humanity will recover, but the world will look and feel very different.

With such change will come a shift in values, in the way we work, the homes in which we live and the cities and landscapes in which we reside, to name but a few.

As we try to make sense of what is happening now, and what our world will look like as we emerge from this global crisis, ThinkLab watched the first “Screentime conversation of Dezeen’s Virtual Design Festival” fresh off the press from 15th April, with the renowned Dutch trend forecaster Li Edelkoort.

Li Edelkoort at the Virtual Design Festival

Dezeen recently interviewed Li as the Corona Virus began to spread and take center stage in our lives, as she herself was in a self imposed quarantine here in Cape Town after speaking at the annual Design Indaba conference in the Mother City.

She spoke to the online magazine in March about  “a global recession of a magnitude that has not been experienced before but will eventually allow humanity to reset its values”.
Edelkoort also talked about the consequence of the virus causing a “quarantine of consumption” which would have a bold cultural and economic effect.

She explains in her new Hope Manifesto that – “Under siege from the Covid-19 virus, many people have come to understand that they should change their behaviour patterns, no longer travelling too much, producing too much, consuming too much or using up too many resources,”

“The comfort of being at and working from home, wasting time instead of money, has led people away from their addiction to material things and into a realm of sharing, caring and making.”

“Disasters are known as powerful ignition tools for radical ways of transforming business practices,” she adds, predicting that fashion will ditch its “insane” practices and that the world will see a revival of small-scale, home-based production.”

“Many countries will fund the return of production to their own shores and outsourcing will become more diverse and less excessive, taking better care of workers and the environment,” Li writes.

[All references Dezeen. Opening image from Mail&Guardian]

Watch the full 40 minutes interview that went live on 15th April here:

Further reading

Read more about the Virtual Design Festival here.

Mandrup whale watching facility following nature’s design

The Danish architect Dorte Mandrup has recently shown the world beautiful visuals by the CGI studio MIR, of The Whale, a new whale watching facility “that will resemble a giant rock outcrop within the Arctic Circle  on the northern coast of Norway”. (Ref Dezeen)

All CGI’s by MIR

Here at ThinkLab in Cape Town, we are privileged to live right beside the southern ocean where Southern Right Whales pass every year on their migration from these icy waters between May and September, as they journey north to breed. Over the years, we have even spotted some of these up to 17 metre long mammals when walking on the busy Cape Town promenade. 

It is both fitting and fascinating therefore to pay tribute to whales, found both in the north and southern hemispheres and to share with you the beautiful series of CGI images that the renowned Studio MIR produce for Mandrup’s Copenhagen based office. 

This elegant, sweeping design was conceived with the idea that it will merge seamlessly with the surrounding landscape of Andenes, which is known as one of the world’s top locations to view whales.

The new facility has been an award winning design from an international competition with the goal of raising awarensss of whale conservation and the environment in which they live.

Dorte Mandrup whale watching facility architecture design Norway CGI by MIR

“Located this far north, Andøya is a unique place and The Whale an extraordinary project,” said the studio’s founder and creative director, Dorte Mandrup. (Ref Dezeen)

“Not only will we be creating architecture in yet another remarkable landscape, but we will also take part in increasing the understanding of whales and preservation of marine life,” she added.

“Right here on the edge of the ocean, we will be making a mark in a magnificent and ancient landscape. This opportunity comes with a great responsibility, which is extremely motivating and inspiring.”

Dorte Mandrup Whale watching facility, CGI by MIR
Dorte Mandrup Whale watching facility, CGI by MIR

The Whale is due to open its doors in 2022. 

You can read more about 3D visualisation and the creation and use of CGI’s in our post here.

How is augmented reality used in property marketing?


Augmented reality, or AR, has been hugely successful in the gaming industry since 2016. Since then, various other industries, such as real estate, retail, healthcare, science and education have implemented it in powerful ways. In this blog post we will look at the benefits of augmented reality and how it is used in property marketing.

What is augmented reality?

Augmented reality enhances our experience of the real world by overlaying computer generated content onto it. Whereas Virtual Reality or VR creates an entire virtual world in which we are immersed, AR keeps us in the real world, but superimposes the computer-generated content, seamlessly merging the real and virtual worlds. Read more on our previous blog post here.

How is AR used in property marketing?

Virtual walkthroughs

By means of an augmented reality app showing on your hand-held device – smartphone or tablet – you can place your project in any real setting and then walk around it and through it. The hand-held device provides the window through which you “step into” the virtual world. While walking through it, you can see the actual landscape outside through the windows of the project. You can inspect every feature, every surface detail, open cabinets, turn on the taps, and so on. Clients can be taken on a virtual walkthrough of any property in your portfolio, and from location, whether it is your boardroom, the client’s home or the building site – and without the need for extra equipment.

Since this digital tour can be shared with your client’s phone or tablet, they can continue to engage with the property, inspecting it from all angles and mulling it over long after your meeting with them is over. Buying a property is a big decision for most people. This app allows potential buyers to familiarise themselves with all the aspects and features of the property in their own time, so that when you re-connect with them over the phone, they can discuss the matter with the much-needed confidence that comes with such familiarity. Also, when discussing possible concerns and answering questions, both you and the client will be viewing the same visuals.

On-site Tours

When taking investors or prospective buyers on a tour of a construction site you can now, with the help of AR, add immense impact to your sales pitch by showing the completed building superimposed on the actual site – in all its splendour, right down to the last detail.

Various interior design options can be overlaid so that clients can get a clear idea of which option they would prefer. This powerful tool can accelerate decision making of a more personal, and time-consuming issue.

Augmenting Printed Branding Material

The augmentation of printed marketing material is one of the most powerful uses of AR in property marketing. By incorporating image-based markers into any printed material from brochures to posters and billboards, your printed collateral comes to life in stunning 3D, engaging and enthralling prospective clients anywhere and at any time, without you needing to be there to engage with them. Not only does this save you time, by working for you in your absence, but it also saves you money, by removing the need for expensive physical scale models of the project.

The benefits of augmented reality

One of the biggest challenges for every property marketing agency is how to optimise the marketing power of the visualisation of their client projects. Traditional printed text descriptions and photographs simply cannot compete in today’s world of fast improving marketing technology. VR and AR are transforming the property market, in both built and unbuilt sectors, creating highly effective ways of presenting new and existing properties or developments to your clients in the most appealing, immersive and informative way. (For more on how VR does this, click here.)

  • Greatly enhances the client’s perception and understanding of the project.
    The technology makes it easy to comprehend complex data through an interactive experience that is intuitive and memorable.
  • Saves time.
    This is a major benefit. Clients normally visit many properties before making up their minds about which one to buy, and sometimes want to return to some favourite options before making the final decision. This takes up a lot of time and can be highly inconvenient if the client has to travel great distances to get there. Furthermore, arranging a viewing time that is convenient for the realtor, the client, and often, the current owner, can be a very complicated business. With the help of augmented reality, clients can now virtually visit properties at any time of day or night, in the comfort of their own homes, without taking up any of the realtor’s time. They can also analyse and compare different properties in detail and liaise with the agent from a well-informed platform. Property developers can use AR to sell unbuilt architecture off plan, bringing in a significant amount of the finances required for the construction outlay, before a single brick has been laid.
  • Saves money.
    Compared to traditional real estate marketing, with its three-dimensional models, full-scale models of apartment interiors occupying large showrooms, and lots of printed material, especially of high quality pictures – all of which is very expensive, the cost of augmented reality, which can replace all of the above, is remarkably low. You can save a lot of money with this technology – especially when factoring in the amount of time that it also saves you, as well as the fact that you can now reach many more clients in this freed-up time.
  • Builds emotional connections.
    Because clients can do an augmented reality tour at any time that is convenient, they can take their time studying details and soaking up the atmosphere or feel of the place. This, together with the fact that such tours are immersive (unlike conventional 2D images), interactive and highly informative, enables the client to make a strong emotional connection with the property.
  • Offers global reach.
    AR technology allows property marketing agencies to showcase properties to potential buyers from anywhere on in the world.
  • Establishing a sense of ownership.
    The immersive and richly interactive nature of the AR experience, together with the fact that clients can virtually visit the property at any time and for as long as they want facilitates a strong sense of personal connection to the place and a concomitant sense of ownership.


Augmented reality is already a dominant factor in property marketing, as is the case in many other industries . Those businesses that require visually compelling and informative marketing collateral to support their sales strategy risk falling behind if they don’t embrace these immersive technologies. It is therefore vitally important for you as a marketer to gain a thorough understanding of how you can exploit AR to its full potential if you want your business to thrive. You can read more about how AR is changing the real estate industry at Forbes here.

PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative: Fifteen years on …

It’s been 15 years since ThinkLab Group’s founder Corné won the PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative (1.618 competition), an initiative that is now in its 27th year and was created to recognise the future interior and industrial designers, architects and key decision makers in the South African design industry. They wrote an interesting article on their blog about what winning this award meant for Corné, and how his career has evolved since. You can read it in full here.

Read more award winning news in our previous post here.

Award winning news

Commercial Interior Design Awards 2019

We’re all in a spin this month – quite literally, as we showcase one of our award winning 360° visualisations produced for our client Perkins & Will.

Perkins and Will team winning 2019 Commercial Interior Design of the year for Saudi Aramco's fourth industrial Revolution Centre.
INTERIOR DESIGN OF THE YEAR OFFICE – Saudi Aramco 4IRC-Perkins & Will , Commercial Interior Design Awards 2019, Madinat Jumeirah Ballroom, Al Sufouh, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 11/09/2019 Photo by Fritz John Asuro/ITP Images;11-09-19 Commercial Interior Design Awards 2019

The Dubai Perkins & Will team picked up Interior Design of the Year trophy as part of the Commercial Interior Design Awards 2019, for Saudi Aramco’s fourth industrial Revolution Centre.   We helped the team of architects and designers translate their winning concept through visual CGI’s and a 360° view.  

Comercial Interior Design Awards 2019 winning entry Perkins and WIll

“We’re super happy about this win and it is pretty unexpected but it was a result of a really strong collaboration. We had a great integrated team between the client Saudi Aramco and Perkins&Will as part of the DAR Group and that is what has led to this success,” said the Perkins&Will team. 

The judges praised the project for its strong use of lighting and integration of technology. You can read more about the shortlist for this years competition here.

[Reference commercialinteriordesign.com]

What is augmented reality?


Augmented reality enhances our experience of the real world by overlaying computer generated content onto it. Whereas VR creates an entire virtual world in which we are immersed, AR keeps us in the real world, but superimposes the computer generated content, seamlessly merging the real and virtual worlds. Thus, for example, when you point your phone at the site where a new building is to be constructed, the relevant app overlays a photorealistic image of the completed building on the site, perfectly blended in with the real world environment – as if it is already there. It can also overlay all sorts of information about the building, such as the date of completion, the price of an apartment, and so on.

AR view of a city

In this post, we will define the types of AR, which devices can be used to view AR, and identify the areas that this disruptive technology will be used in the future, or is already being used.

Types of Augmented Reality

Marker-based Augmented Reality uses a special visual marker, a distinctive image that can be recognised by the device. This can be anything, as long as it has enough unique features. This is scanned by your phone’s camera to anchor the digital overlay to the real world. In this way, for example, an educational animation can come alive when the user points the camera at the relevant page of a book. When you move the book around, the animation stays rooted to the correct position in the book.

Markerless Augmented Reality is used when the virtual object does not need to be anchored to the real world. The users decide where they want to place the virtual object – for example, when moving virtual furniture around in your real apartment, or when interacting with a virtual game character.

Location-based AR ties augmented reality content to a specific location. It uses a GPS, a compass, a gyroscope, and an accelerometer to provide data based on user’s location. This is commonly used to provide users with information about the real world environment that they find themselves in, such as location and details about local businesses, entertainment, and so on.

Projection-based AR projects synthetic light onto physical surfaces and allows for interaction with the user by detecting alterations in the user’s behaviour compared to the device’s expectations of the correct procedure to be followed. This is of great value in education and industry. A worker assembling parts of a car can follow instructions projected onto the relevant part of the car, showing where to do what. When it detects a deviation on the worker’s behalf from the correct procedure, it instructs him or her to make the appropriate correction.

Superimposition-based AR. Superimposition based augmented reality is a form of marker-based AR that either partially or fully replaces the original view of an object with a newly augmented view of that same object. Object recognition is needed to replace the original view with the augmented one. Thus, for example, in medical practice, an X-ray view of a patient’s broken arm bone can be superimposed on the doctor’s view of the real arm to provide a clear understanding of the patient’s actual condition.

Devices suitable for Augmented reality

Heads up Displays (HUD). This was first developed for fighter pilots to enable them, at critical times, to focus all their attention on what is happening in front of them, outside the aircraft, rather than having to look down at the array of controls inside the cockpit. Critical information is projected on transparent screens mounted in front of the pilot. Because parallel light rays focused on infinity (collimation) are used in this projection, the pilot’s need to shift focus from the data to the scene outside the cockpit is significantly reduced. This technology is now being applied in motorcars to address the same problem. Helmet mounted displays have made this technology accessible to general aviation, manufacturing, sports and other fields.

Holographic displays use light diffraction to generate a virtual three-dimensional image of an object in real space. The greatest advantage of this type of display is that it does not require special glasses or external equipment for the viewer to see the image. It has long been a standard of science fiction, and it still has an almost magical or highly futuristic aura about it, which is another great advantage that can be exploited in various fields, such as entertainment and marketing.

Smart glasses are self-contained computers with mobile apps that can be conveniently worn. Some use touch buttons while others use voice commands to communicate with the Internet. However, Google Glasses, a pioneering product in this field, met with widespread opposition because of its intrusive nature, even before it was launched. Banned from cinemas, theatres, restaurants, casinos, hospitals, strip clubs, and form being used while driving, it was discontinued as a consumer product in 2015. But a version dedicated to the workplace is doing very well.

Handheld AR (or mobile AR). This development is of particular importance, since it has made a host of AR experiences readily accessible to the general public. All you need is a smart phone. It is employed in gaming, entertainment, business analytics, sports, and social networking, amongst other things.

AR view of a city with a smartphone

The use of AR in the near future

Here are some of the areas in which AR is being used or will be in the near future.

  • Medical Training and practice
  • Education 
  • Military
  • Gaming and entertainment
  • Retail
  • Property marketing
  • Design 
  • Business Logistics
  • Repair & Maintenance
  • Tourism 
  • Public Safety

In closing …

The augmented reality market has a very bright future and, according to Markets and Markets, is expected to reach USD 60.55 Billion by 2023.

Because AR overlays digital information onto the real world, its applications are far more extensive than those of Virtual Reality. The immersive nature of the latter limits its application to specific situations, where it can be very powerful. AR, on the other hand, is set to be pervasive in our real world experience in the near future, its applications ranging from entertainment, shopping and travel to education, design, medical, marketing, industry and military. Whatever the nature of your business, the question is not so much whether you need AR but what form of AR do you need.

Talking about world record paper airplanes

As a business that is continuously visualizing unbuilt architecture, we use the latest 3D technology that is the next generation on from physical model building, so its always enticing to see inside the world of makers and what they produce using traditional techniques in the interconnecting realms of design, science and engineering. The “Paper Airplane Guy” John Collins crosses all these disciplines with his engaging projects and self taught background, building world record paper airplanes.

Got 10 minutes to spare? Grab your cup of coffee and watch this … Be prepared to revisit those carefree childhood days and be captivated by a whole lot of paper folding and flying as Wired magazine talks to John Collins about his lifelong commitment to designing, making and flying world record breaking airplanes out of paper.

If that’s been inspiring stuff and you want to learn more, you can read a more in depth interview with John Collins by Make here.

If you liked this post, you can learn about the environmental art visionary Christo and his landscape changing installations in our blog post here.

How is virtual reality used in property marketing?


Virtual reality is completely transforming the real estate and property development businesses.  In this blog post we will see how and why this is happening and discuss five ways in which its implementation is of great advantage to both property buyers, tenants, and property marketing agencies.

Virtual reality has changed the way that prospective buyers and tenants can view existing properties and unbuilt residential and commercial architecture. According to a survey of the National Association of Realtors (of USA), 99% of Millennials search on online websites when looking at property compared to 90% of Older Baby Boomers and 70% of the Silent Generation (i.e. those born between 1928-1945). Click here to view the full feature. These statistics show how important it is to make use of digital technology.

How VR is used in property marketing

Virtual property showcases 

Clients normally visit many existing properties before making up their minds about which one to buy, and sometimes want to return to some favourite options before making the final decision. This takes up a lot of time and can be highly inconvenient if the client has to travel great distances to get there. Furthermore, arranging a viewing time that is convenient for the estate agent, the client, and often, the current owner, can be a very complicated business.

With VR technology all these problems disappear. With the aid of a VR headset immersive three-dimensional walk-throughs of properties can be experienced. This means that in the comfort of their own homes, millions of people can virtually visit properties at any time of the day or night, without needing to arrange an appointment. After going through a number of options quickly in this way, they can then decide which ones they want to visit in person.

The challenge of selling a property that has not been built yet is even bigger. Traditionally, large three-dimensional physical models are used to show the overall appearance of a property. Interiors are shown by means of large showrooms with full-scale models of apartments. This, of course, is very expensive and virtual reality can save a property developer a considerable amount of money by replacing these.

There are two types of 3D virtual tours:

  • Guided tours. These can be either fully virtual or a simpler 360 degree video and are ideal for an existing property. Since they can be produced quite simply, all you need is a panoramic camera that can take a 360 degree video. This makes them relatively inexpensive. The simpler version, which is a two-dimensional 360 tour, makes up for its lack of immersive experience by means of its sheer versatility. It can be viewed without a VR headset on a computer screen or phone and be posted on social media. A potential client who is looking for something else on the internet might stumble upon it and show immediate interest. This is where it is very valuable. That person, who might only have a few seconds available, can then quickly do a tour of the apartment in that limited period of time, and then proceed to more immersive research when they have more time. This version is also less expensive than the fully immersive one.

  • Interactive tours. These offer the client the choice of where to move, from one room to another, by clicking on special hotspots in the field of view. The production of interactive virtual tours is more complicated and therefore also more costly, but their interactive nature makes them more fully immersive and ultimately, this can bring the greatest rewards. When a potential buyer is getting excited about a space, and feeling that this could be their dream home, it is vitally important that this experience should be as real and captivating as possible. If they want to see the bedroom or kitchen one more time and can do so at will, it could be decisive.
the use of virtual reality in property marketing
View of an interior within a VR experience. Matching up the dots and you are taken into the next space. VR can be viewed with a headset or in touch mode.


Here is a list of the main benefits of using VR technology in property marketing:

  • Saves time. This is a major benefit. Neither clients nor estate agents need to travel from one property to another through heavy traffic, often at inconvenient hours. Clients can now virtually visit properties at any time of day or night, in the comfort of their own homes, without taking up any of the estate agent’s time.

  • Saves money. Compared to traditional real estate marketing, with its three-dimensional physical models, full-scale models of apartment interiors occupying large showrooms, and lots of printed material, especially of high quality pictures – all of which is expensive, the cost of virtual reality, which can replace all of the above, is remarkably low. It is produced one time, and is used again and again. You can save a lot of money with this technology – especially when factoring in the amount of time that it also saves you, as well as the fact that you can now focus on reaching out to many more clients in this freed-up time.

  • Builds emotional connections. Because clients can do a VR tour at any time that is convenient, they can take their time studying details and soaking up the atmosphere or feel of the place. This, together with the fact that such tours are fully immersive (unlike conventional 2D images) enables the client to make a strong emotional connection with the property. They also have the power to share what they like due to the digital nature of this marketing format, helping you further the reach of your campaigns.

  • Offers global reach. VR technology allows property marketing agencies to showcase properties to potential buyers from anywhere in the world.

  • Establishing a sense of ownership. The immersive nature of the VR experience, together with the fact that clients can virtually visit the property at any time and for as long as they want facilitates a strong sense of personal connection to the place and a concomitant sense of ownership. 

And finally …

Property marketing is being transformed by virtual reality. It is essential to look at using this new technology if you haven’t already, so that you stay up to date with the latest technological developments, and most importantly, stay on track with your sales targets.

If you want to learn more about using VR for a project that you have in mind, you can reach out to us by visiting our contact page here.

What is virtual reality?

Virtual Reality provides an immersive experience of architecture that is of immense value in presentation, marketing as well as design analysis.  Developers as well as architects and designers need to engage with this technology in order to stay at the cutting edge of their respective fields.  In this post, we will define virtual reality and discuss the impact that it can have on your business, whether as an architect, designer or property developer.

What is virtual reality?

Virtual Reality (VR) uses computer technology to create a compellingly immersive experience of unbuilt architecture. Instead of merely looking at a flat image on a computer screen, clients can experience what it is like to actually enter their future home and look around. When they put on the head-mounted display, or “VR goggles”, they are ‘magically’ transported into a 3D simulation of the architectural space, complete with highly realistic effects of light, shadow and reflection on every object, surface or detail, as they turn around inside the ‘room.’ Two panoramic renderings viewed from cameras that are slightly apart – the same distance that the human eyes are – give a totally convincing portrayal of actual three-dimensional space.

virtual reality headset is used to view  unbuilt architecture using immersive technology.

How is this achieved?

We have two eyes that each see a flat, two-dimensional image (close your one eye, and the third dimension disappears). But, because they see the same scene from slightly different angles, the brain can create a three-dimensional impression of the space we are in. VR technology simply replicates this effect.

Like sight, hearing is a vital component of our sense of three-dimensional space. In fact, our reactions to aural cues are more immediate than our reactions to visual ones. Accurate environmental sounds, the audio counterpart of high resolution images, are needed. But they must also be represented spatially, so that you can hear that a sound is coming from behind you, to the left, and so on. Stereophonic sound is somewhat similar to stereoscopic vision. Because our ears are on either side of our heads, they receive stimuli from a sound source at slightly different times and at slightly different sound levels. The human mind uses these subtle differences to triangulate the position of the sound source in space, giving us a three-dimensional aural experience.

A feast for the senses

This mental ability would have evolved as a powerful adaptive strategy – when walking through a thick forest or jungle, your survival would often have depended on being able to tell instantly from what direction and at what distance the sound of a possible predator or prey was coming. For this reason, we still respond so strongly to a spatially oriented sound source.

Stereophonic sound and surround sound uses this principle by recording the same sound with microphones placed at various locations relative to the sound source. Highly realistic environmental sounds presented in a convincingly three-dimensional way is therefore a vital component of a truly immersive VR experience.

So why is virtual reality so important?

The ability to engage with a virtual representation of an architectural design offers many major benefits.

  • The viability of an architectural design can be tested through this simulation of real life experience of the space. The scale models that are used traditionally by architects are not sufficient to fulfil this role.

  • This entails everything from practical issues such as ergonomics to purely aesthetic ones – how the design is experienced as a real architectural space.

  • This immersive experience of the design can save a considerable amount of money and time by highlighting potential problems, from practical construction issues to pure design ones, at an early stage.

  • Virtual reality therefore makes the ideal design tool, by means of which architects, designers and developers can collaborate in the successful development of a project.

You can read more about just why VR is such a vital tool in the property development sector at Property Voice here.

To sum up …

It is vitally important for architects, designers and property developers to stay up to date with the latest developments in digital technology and to have a sound grasp of the different options that are available, so that they can optimise the power of their marketing campaign or ensure their design process is efficient as possible. While virtual reality is undoubtedly the ideal option, budget restraints might make some of the other options more expedient. For more on these options you can download our infographic 5 Tools to build a successful property marketing campaign.

How to choose an architectural visualisation company

We have already discussed the factors that can help you decide if you would benefit from using an architectural visualisation company in our previous blog post which you can review by clicking on the link – Do I need a 3D visualisation company?

Choosing the right architectural visualisation company is vitally important to the success of your project.  Since architectural visualisation has come to play such a pivotal role in property marketing as well as in architectural and interior design development, the suitability of the visualisation company to your specific needs, as property developer, architect or interior designer, can be a decisive factor in your success. There are plenty of visualisation firms out there offering a variety of services, and it is by no means easy to find the most suitable one.  In this blog we will review seven questions that you need to ask to help you make the right choice.

What is the cost?

The cost of visualisation varies according to several factors, but most important are:

vector showing business success
  • The size of the company.  Independent individuals can handle small jobs. Because they often work from home and do not employ any staff, they can offer their services at a lower price than larger firms can while still providing a level of quality. Larger firms are often better at producing larger projects that have a specific deadline as they can assign a dedicated team to your work ensuring your project deadlines are met timeously.   Obviously, the money that you may save on employing a smaller outfit is not worth it if it means you risk missing your deadline, in which case you might lose millions through lost sales opportunities or the loss of a major contract.

  • The reputation of the company – local or international. As in any profession, the more established a company becomes and the more highly regarded their work becomes, the more they will tend to charge for their services.

How much time will it take to complete my project?

Make sure to establish precise deadlines and clarify any issues that might stall the process (on both sides). Architectural visualisation firms work on a time basis.  The longer they take, the less money they make, so it is not in their interests to take more time than necessary.  For this reason, also, they appreciate prompt feedback from you, the client, to speed up the process. Furthermore, be sure to have all the data that they need from you to complete the project by the agreed time. If they are spending considerable time waiting on your input, this time is wasted, which is money, and may result in them having to take on other work in the meantime, to mitigate such potential losses, which can impact on your deadlines.

How many people can work on one project?

If you have a large project and a tight deadline, a more substantial team of 3D artists will be needed to complete the work on time. Using a small company that charges less could carry more risks, since the individual or individuals may be under extra pressure (professional rendering entails a considerable amount of expertise and skill) and the chances of producing a final result that is below par are multiplied.

The question of quality.

The quality of the computer generated imagery is not related to the size of the architectural visualisation firm – or even, necessarily, to its reputation.  Some firms are excellent at marketing and positioning themselves, and the effort and money they spend on creating the public perception that they are the best can pay off handsomely in terms of the high fees they can then charge for this perceived level of expertise in their renderings.  However, as with all marketing, it is not always the best product that gets to the top.  A favoured approach is to look at the actual renderings that they produce and compare these with a selection of other portfolios. Remember that architectural visualisation is a supremely creative and aesthetic discipline, so one person’s viewpoint of a studio’s portfolio may vary from another’s.

Ask what experience they have in the market.

Having established that the quality is good, and the price is within your budget, it is beneficial to ensure that the company has sufficient experience of handling your type and scale of project to make sure that the process runs smoothly and the outcome matches your expectations.  Ask to see reviews and case studies of previous projects of a similar type and scale, and whether they have had any long-term projects with different phases.  Visualisation firms that are able to produce stunning renderings are not necessarily well equipped with project management or balancing the demands of larger scale jobs, which are important factors that make up a successful architectural visualisation and property branding company.  So being thorough with your research is worth the effort in the long run.

What software is used?

You may want to check that the company of your choice has the latest versions of cutting-edge 3D rendering software. Not only will this ensure that the latest technology is being used to present your project to the best advantage, but it will also indicate that the visual artists are constantly honing their skills by keeping up to date with the latest developments – in other words, that they are passionate about their profession and this translates through their work.

How does the architectural visualisation company work with you?

The whole process of producing your 3D renderings can be speeded up considerably by making use of online feedback.  By making use of all the latest mobile communications channels, from Whats App to Zoom conference calls, contact can be made quickly with the visualisation team, establishing a more instant, dynamic and creative working relationship with you.  The more communication there is the deeper their understanding of your vision will become. They can also quickly get answers from you on issues that may come up, or help you make a design choice by sharing images and ideas online.  Make su ask beforehand if revisions are included in the overall price and if so, how many revisions are included before incurring additional costs.  

And to close …

Choosing the right architectural visualisation company for you  is important.  We laid out a few factors for consideration including:
– costs
– deadlines
– quality of renderings
– market experience
– how big a team would be needed to handle your project successfully
– how up to date they are with the latest rendering technology, and what feedback system they use

Producing architectural renderings can be a complex process. That is why specialist companies exist, to carefully execute this kind of work. Any one of these issues can affect the outcome. Since visualisation has become such an integral part of the real estate industry as well as the architect or designer’s design process, it is very important to get this right from the outset.

Want to understand the difference between the latest immersive technologies of VR, AR and MR? View our blog post The Future of Reality to watch Wired’s video, and you’ll be up to date in no time!