Design: Clarity rather than confusion

3D models show it like it will be, writes Ben Crawford.

DeeDee Studio's computer-generated model of a boutique apartment in Auckland. Photo / Ben Crawford
DeeDee Studio's computer-generated model of a boutique apartment in Auckland. Photo / Ben Crawford

Spatial awareness. You either have it or you don't. A bit like being able to get that perfect hitchhiker's bend in your thumb. No matter how hard you try or how much you practise, you're just not going to be able to do it.

This can be a problem if you're planning to build a new house or complete a major renovation. The act of trying to visualise how a set of two-dimensional plans will turn into a functioning home can induce a headache to end all headaches, often creating confusion rather than clarity.

Last week, while I was browsing through a property magazine, I came across an advertisement for a new development in Auckland. The headline indicated the construction was about to begin, yet the accompanying imagery suggested the building already existed. Looking closer, I realised they were computer-generated "photos" of the apartments, providing an accurate snapshot of what the future two-bedroom homes would look like, months ahead of any dirt being turned.

Boom. A perfect solution that would resolve even the slightest hint of spatial confusion. Inquisitive as I am, I wanted to discover more about this incredible tool. So this week I sat down with Jonathan Davies, the director of architectural visualisation company DeeDee Studio to learn about the technique and the role it plays in the construction industry.

Since 2011, DeeDee Studio has been providing 3D modelling services for a variety of clients, from individual homeowners who want to see what their new home will look like through to architects and property developers.

The development of any 3D image begins with those dreaded two-dimensional floor plans. Given the backgrounds of the DeeDee Studio team, they can work with fully resolved, scaled plans of your dream home through to hand-drawn sketches.

Davies and his team build a 3D shell of the property by inputting the dimensions from these plans into their computer software, along with additional data such as the section's topographical details. They then scour digital libraries containing thousands of three-dimensional objects such as furniture, lighting and landscaping to help create your virtual home.

Now comes the exciting bit as your home becomes "real". Multiple images are rendered from this master model to provide life-like photos of key exterior elevations and interior spaces. It's incredible to see the level of detail in each image, such as shadows cast by furniture and trees reflected in windows.

Davies thinks a lot of people are reluctant to have 3D modelling done because they presume it's costly. But it doesn't have to be and it is well worth the small investment to ensure that what you think you are having built is what will be built, well in advance of mortgages being drawn down.

I will be seeking out models for my projects. Despite being able to conceptualise what a structure will look like, there are always areas and details that aren't 100 per cent clear and could come as an unpleasant surprise on the venture's completion. To be able to tinker on possible permutations before committing to a design is invaluable in terms of peace of mind and clarity for all of those involved in the build.

Recent projects completed by DeeDee Studio

1. Boutique Apartment Development, Auckland CBD

Working alongside the architects tasked with converting this old downtown building into 28 apartments, DeeDee Studio produced full 3D renders and 360-degree panoramas for each space to assist potential buyers visualise their prospective homes.

2. Private Residence, Howick

A new-build in Howick that DeeDee Studio modelled to capture the style and essence of the house for the homeowner, including full outdoor areas and landscaping.

3. Complex Rebuild, Christchurch

Some of these terraced houses had to be re-clad after the earthquakes and others were fine to remain in their original condition. Jonathan Davies and the team alleviated concerns the residents had about the aesthetic impact this would have by showing how the differently cladded houses would look alongside each other.

4. St Heliers house

The owners of this house wanted to expand its floor area and retain the essence of the existing architecture. Deedee Studio completed a series of models exploring various options, ensuring the perfect solution was reached.

Find It: DeeDee Studio

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