The Fountainhead, 1949

In the previous article, I wrote about the first models, their users and the corresponding applications.

Today I write about the 3d model of the 21st century, which I would distinguish into two large groups:

Emulating techniques of the traditional model and the new paradigm.


In this group I include the techniques that continue to treat the model as an object.
As an object to be seen from the outside.

The holograms

There are two types: the physical and the projections.


They are based on the generation of an optical effect on a physical medium

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Introduction to Holography” 1972 Encyclopaedia Britannica Films


  • Transportable
  • It does not get deteriorated


  • High cost
  • Little detail and definition
  • Size limitation
  • They are not interactive
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DreamocXL – 3D Holographic product display

Although I would like to see one in person, I do not think it will have success. It has too many limitations. A further example of failed attempt at 3d model representation.


The object represented transcends the traditional projection of the image in a plane to do it in a three-dimensional way.

Sure there are other examples above but, in my case, the first hologram I saw was in 1977. The projector was built R2D2 and the projection was Princess Leia transmitting a message of help to Obi Wan Kenobi. If you remember, you will see how the series of films of this saga was pioneering in the use of holograms.

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“Help Me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re My Only Hope” Star Wars – Episode IV


  • Viewers can watch the projection around it.
  • The spatial understanding of the projected is very evident.


  • Apart from the films, the reality is that it lacks definition and detail.
  • The projection mechanism limits the size to very small holograms.
  • You need a complex creation process
  • The projection mechanism has a high cost
3D model - Avatar, 2009 – Tree hologram

Avatar, 2009 – Tree hologram

Recent attempts based on the use of graphene seem to give some hope to continue with the development of this technology.It seems a hybrid between augmented reality and the virtual but without interfaces.Its success will depend fundamentally on the development of your own technology.

Augmented reality

It can be understood as an intermediate technology between the classic physical model and 3d model virtual reality.


  • It does not get deteriorated
  • Is editable
  • It has a lot of detail and precision
  • You can define the textures with quality
  • It can be interactive
  • It is transportable
  • The interface visualization is already part of our lives


  • Sorry, it does not have the physical character of the classic model
  • Requires an interface
  • Requires internet connection
  • Everything happens in a “little window”

Without a doubt, its advantages place it as a technology that replaces the classic physical model. It just lacks the main advantage of this: its materiality.

However, apart from interactivity (it is an important factor without a doubt), it is still the same concept of the classic model: looking at an object from the outside.

3d printing

I understand its advantages related to the production of the 3d model. No longer cut (nor cut yourself) nor paste. Without staining, we model everything in the computer and the machine builds it. This is a breakthrough for traditional artisan modelers or perhaps, the definitive death of this profession.

Advantages compared to the traditional method of production:

  • It is a clean process.
  • Can generate very complex shapes
  • The materialization of the model is relatively fast
  • The precision and detail is very high according to the method used.


  • Nowadays it can be seen as a slow process
  • The materials are not cheap
  • Durability is least doubtful
  • They are, in general, mono materials.

The new paradigm

The fundamental difference between the traditional methods of three-dimensional representation and the new ones is the main position of the spectator.It is no longer situated outside the represented object, it is inside.

This change of position is fundamental to understand the paradigm’s shift.It is the fundamental difference.

How many of us during the degree we did not want to get inside when we did models?We tried with the camera lens but the limitations were insurmountable.

The change of perception involved in being immersed in a space has nothing to do with the exercise of imagination involved in contemplating a model. They are different mental exercises.

Virtual reality or enveloping environments require less mental effort. They replace the lack of understanding space for an activity much closer to our day to day. There is its great advantage and at the same time its great limitation nowadays.

Virtual reality

As I said, its main characteristic is that the viewer changes the role and becomes a main character. With his will, he interacts in the environment and makes decisions. He decides how you see the space. The space waits for him, it is there and he decides how to visit it. To where he looks, at what speed, how he moves and changes the environment that surrounds him.

1960, the very first VR headset

1960, the very first VR headset

At first sight it seems that the great advantage of the system is freedom.We are not seeing an object (model) outside of us, we are within it and we have freedom of movements and decisions.

My experiences

In 1989, in Munich, I first put on VR glasses. The experience was amazing. The geometry was very primitive and the shading of it very basic. This is normal if we consider the power of computers then. That was the maximum they could represent in real time. The idea was good but it was clear that it would take a few years for the idea to work.

A couple of years ago, 27 years after that first time, I put on some glasses again. The memories of the first time, logically, were very diffuse.

Without a doubt, its advantages place it as a technology that replaces the classic physical model using a 3d model. It just lacks the main advantage of this: its materiality.

However, apart from interactivity (it is an important factor without a doubt), it is still the same concept of the classic model: looking at an object from the outside.

Oculus experience at Walqa

We tried the experience 3 team members and two of them, me first, we ended up dizzy. To say it gently, the experience was not all that pleasant we hoped for.

Later, a couple of weeks ago, I put them back in the sales office of a promoter and, to be honest the experience was not very satisfactory :(

What is the point of provoking a puke of potential client?The answer is obvious: he will not buy

It is likely that :

  • When the connection wires disappear from the computer (some wireless versions have already come out)
  • When the set system is more stable
  • If the glasses and their projectors improve
  • When we can see scenes with more polygons and better texture and lighting…

… then, only then …

The experience will be worth it.

But note one fact: all my disadvantages are solved with technical advances.This means a better software and hardware.

In essence, for me, this technology will triumph surely. Simply, the idea is ahead of the technique.

360 environments

In this case, although if it is necessary that the quality glasses’ projection would improve something (it will take very little to be optimal) the current offer of this technology seems pride.

We no longer have to think about environments and visualizations that have to be “cooked” in real time. If we talk about “pre-cooked” images and videos. Therefore, at least at present, the quality of the projected can be infinitely superior since it does not depend on that need of immediate calculation.

The 360º cameras allow the video recording in that format that is directly “viewable” with the different models of glasses. Have not you tried it yet? Do it now!

This experience is not as interactive as visiting the space by the way the recorder decided to do it. However, if you can look around 360º constantly.

Of course I want to think about the architecture and its applications, but after testing the glasses with 360º video there are two niches, apart from the obvious of video games, that come to my mind immediately:


It will not be ever comparable to be there but a door is opened to:

People with few resources

Persons physically handicapped

People with little time

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360 VR video experience in Venice

Yes, I know, it is not the same. However, between everything and nothing I would prefer the glasses.

If you think about it, sometimes, the use of glasses may be more enjoyable when you do not have to put up with the rest of the tourists. Imagine that your son has to do homework about the Acropolis.

What do you prefer? Being inspired by the typical photo or let him “turn around” without moving from your room.

I want to fly.I want to wear my glasses with the actual recording of what an eagle is flying, to hang me from a few wires, and finally to light a powerful fan in front of me.


I do not think it necessary to describe the infinite possibilities offered by this field. Being aware, that it is an “industry” with future and budget, the success of this technology is safe.Unfortunately, I predict a death by stroke of many people. The police will find them and say something that will become a classic: “he died with his glasses on.”


In regards to the visit of existing spaces, their possibilities seem unlimited.I imagine a whole class of architecture students with their glasses visiting the interior of Sagrada Familia.

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Sagrada Familia 360

The problem begins to arise when what we want to “visit” does not exist. Then, you have to calculate it with the computer. This means that you have to calculate an animation with a resolution similar to 4k and of course, that is within the reach of very few. We meet again with the bottleneck of software and hardware.An alternative that maintains a high quality standard is the making of images instead of animation, but of course, that is not that cool.

My conclusions about 3d model

 1. Probably because of my age, every day I see with more vertigo what happens in the world of visualization. I force myself not to put mental resistance to the news. But it is also true that we have all seen examples of emerging technologies that have come to nothing. That’s why I still think we have to be cautious. Only from the analysis and respect to all the initiatives we can reach conclusions.

2. The generation of a 3d model of the building inside the computer is the first step for everything else.Although there is currently a chaos of formats and specifications for each of the technologies (it has little to do with the BIM model for a project, which is necessary to print a model or generate an augmented reality) technology will advance to unify formats. Depending on what you need at the end of the path, you will prepare the 3d model in one way or another.

3. I do not think it is a problem of 3d model representation method. For me, the success of one system or another is based more on the spatial generosity of what is represented. This is an example: if what we want is to have a full experience with virtual reality, I think the space to achieve it has to be wide. We will get all the benefits of the experience if we move through a train station or a square. However, if the space to visit is a bedroom of only 10 m2, where we can hardly move and we discovered everything at a glance, the experience will be disappointing.

…and the last 3

4. The ergonomics of technologies. Mobile manufacturers played with a limitation related to the proportions of the hand: either we make mobiles that are handled or we make the jump in size and the mobiles must be handled with two hands.

Leaving aside the games where we can fly or drive at maximum speed, the human being, when visiting a space goes by walk unless you are a compulsive tourist. I say this because the speed of movement and the displacement are also other factors to consider. If we visit something walking, the glasses will be as important as the actual platform on which we walk virtually.

5. Speaking strictly of architecture and property development, I find it interesting: the use of augmented reality to teach modifiable 3d models.The 3d printing for the daily work of the architect virtual reality for large spaces when technology improves. Enveloping environments to visit spaces already built.

6. I like to think more about what is counted than how it is counted. If we use these technologies to travel or have fun, then I see their advantages. The freedom factor is fundamental in this type of experiences.

However, if what we want is to seduce in order to sell, we should not leave that task in our client. It will be more effective that he does not control the process. It is better if he is guided by where we want. I think that purpose is best achieved by making a video in which we show what we want and what we want “without freedom of movement.”

Let’s not be ridiculous: lack of freedom does not have to be bad. It is sometimes definitely advisable.