Here at Squint we have been spending a lot of our time in the virtual world. In one corner of the office is the HTC Vive with its 3m x 3m play area. Sometimes we paint with 3D fire in Tilt Brush, defend our castles with bows and arrows in The Lab, and work as gourmet chefs with Job Simulator. But even closer to our hearts is when we create our own unique virtual experiences.
We want to see what's behind the camera, or what it feels like to walk around the space ourselves.
Virtual Reality has recently become an exciting medium for visualising architecture and space. Still images and animations are excellent ways to create narratives for design projects, but often we want to see what’s behind the camera, or what it feels like to walk around in the space ourselves.
A 360° image when viewed on headsets like the Samsung Gear, Google Cardboard or the Occulus can allow the viewer to look around them and get a sense of really being in this imagined environment. You can let your eyes wander over a bit of time, looking at details to the left and to the right, and just below or above you. A narrative is able to be told in a different way, and every viewer will experience this space a little differently.
The HTC Vive is where we feel like we jump completely into another world, totally immersed. When you put the headset on and look around, and then walk around the 3m x 3m area, you get a real sense of being present, like you actually exist in that space at that time. This is what we find really exciting.
We are currently working on a number of projects where we createda virtual environment running in realtime, using the game engine Unity. Sitting on real / virtual chairs, crouching low to look at some detail, and waving controllers about with your hands are all ways that we encourage interaction within the space. There is a constant challenge to maintain a high level of realism whilst comfortably playing in realtime.
When looking at a still image or watching an animation you are an observer, when inside a virtual world you are a participant.
One of our current projects is set in New York, where we are creating the experience of being in a Manhattan skyscraper. Just imagine, you are at the office window 300m above the street. Can you walk to the edge? Can you look down? The feeling of false vertigo that you get when ‘looking down’ from a height in VR is one of the most exciting ways to transport a user to somewhere else.
Another way to transport someone is with noise. Close your eyes, now listen to the sound of this busy city street at 9 o’clock in the morning. A driver is beeping at you, music is pumping from the car behind. Do you feel like you’re there? Now open your eyes, you can see the street around you, cars driving by as you look left and right. You are there, or at least it feels like you are. This is our intention with virtual reality.
Finally one of the interesting aspects of VR is the chance for exploration. When looking at a still image or watching an animation you are an observer, when inside a virtual world you are a participant. Using a tracked headset such as the Vive, you can bend down to look at detail near the ground or peer your head round the corner to see something behind the wall. With the hand controllers you can reach out and grab an object, or push something over, and suddenly the potential to explore your space and feel a sense of agency within it is great, and much closer to real life.
This growing medium is exciting us at Squint and we look forward to seeing where it takes us, the worlds we can make, the experiences we can have, and we invite you to come share them with us!
At the end of July several Neoscape employees had the pleasure of taking a photography trip up to Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. For those who haven’t been or are not familiar, it is one of the prettiest national parks on this side of the country, as well as home to the highest peak on the East Coast. The views are absolutely incredible and it offers some of the best nature photography spots on the Eastern Seaboard. Below is a recap of the trip from Joel Corrente, a digital artist in our Boston studio.
We began our journey after work on a Friday, arriving just after midnight at the Bass Harbor Lighthouse. The red light of the lighthouse’s lantern created an ominous glow over the strong fog that had started to roll in. The two photographs below were taken from a vantagepoint along the rocky shoreline. With waves crashing around us, it was one of the more treacherous locations I have shot from and should not be attempted without proper lighting and footwear.
We next proceeded to the summit of Cadillac Mountain around 4:30a.m. as the first light of day began to break. Surrounded by about 200 other hikers and photographers alike, we found the perfect spot to capture the sun as it rose over the lingering fog that hugged the coast.
After recharging our batteries with a nap and some of Maine’s signature blueberry pancakes, we hiked to the edge of Jordan Pond where we took some long exposure and regular photography, documenting the perfect weather nature had given us that day.
After an afternoon of shooting, we enjoyed the famous lobster rolls that Bar Harbor is known for, and they certainly didn’t disappoint! We then treked back up the opposite side of Cadillac Mountain as the setting sun approached the horizon. Rich with color and depth, what proceeded was one of the most beautiful sunsets I have photographed.
As the light quickly evaporated from the evening sky, we made our way to Thunder Hole to take long exposure astrophotography. Though it was a difficult path to our shooting location with many large, flat, slippery rocks to contend with, it was worth it. This was an amazing place to shoot, and where we caught some of the most spectacular images of our entire trip.
One of the best parts of this trip was getting to know some of my coworkers who share similar passions with myself. Being able to learn from them and share the knowledge I have was a really profound experience and something I look forward to doing again. All together it was an amazing trip and we were incredibly lucky to have gotten great weather and the colorful skies that we did. I think I speak for the group when I say we really appreciated having the opportunity to go on such a special trip and we all really want to thank Neoscape for making it possible.
Boston Landing continues to make headlines in July as The Boston Globe included the project in a round-up of several big real estate developments underway that are transforming Boston’s outer neighborhoods. Projects like Boston Landing are making the city feel bigger and are bringing major employers to new parts of the city. Aside from the state-of-the-art New Balance headquarters, Boston Landing will include offices for tech and life science companies, a hotel, an apartment building and a track-and-field center. The Boston Celtics recently announced they would build a practice facility there as well, and the Boston Bruins practice facility is currently underway. The Bruins will not be the only owners of the rink, however, as Boston Magazine reported this month that the National Women’s Hockey League Boston Pride will also call Warrior Ice Arena at Boston Landing home this upcoming season. See our rendering of the development here:
Moshe Safdie’s Jewel Changi Airport crowned International Architecture Award winner
As reported by Channel NewsAsia, Jewel Changi Airport, Moshe Safdie’s under-construction mixed-use complex in Singapore, won the 2016 International Architecture Award this past month. According to The Moodie Davitt Report, the award was given out by The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies. Jewel Changi Airport is expected to open in early 2019 and will feature a five-story garden filled with greenery, and an indoor waterfall. We created the renderings for the project, which will include a range of lifestyle offerings including shopping and dining options, duty free and travel retail stores in the terminals, play attractions, a hotel and facilities for airport operations according to TRBusiness. Jewel Changi Airport Development CEO Hung Jean shared, it has “always been our aspiration for Jewel to be a world-class development that will not only strengthen Changi Airport’s air hub status, but also enhance Singapore’s tourism appeal.”
A case study on the Riyadh Metro
Last month, the Riyadh Metro saw the completion of the excavation works for its Green Line, according to Construction Week Online. The $2.2 billion Green Line is a part of the $23 billion Riyadh Metro network, which will eventually include six total lines. The entire project encompasses 85 stations and six main lines that will service most areas of Riyadh, including government, commercial and residential buildings and schools. In July, Thyssenkrupp, one of the world’s leading elevator companies, was awarded a contract to design, manufacture, supply, install and maintain 641 elevators and escalators for Lines 1 and 2 of the Riyadh Metro in Saudi Arabia according to TradeArabia. As the massive project continues to come together, view our rendering of the metro here:
The world we live in is filled with celebrity look-a-likes and dog filters ruling social media. Have we become so obsessed with the convenience of flipping the cameras on our phones that we no longer feel the need to develop the story we’re trying to tell? To help flex our creative muscles, Neoscape has been holding monthly design challenges that encourage employees to think outside the box. Challenges are open to all employees and often uncover unique artistic talents and new ways of thinking. For this design exercise, employees were tasked with creating a meaningful self-portrait that dove a little deeper than the instant nature of the selfie. Participants could draw, paint, photograph, alter or manipulate however they saw fit, as long as they believed the images captured their true selves. Take a look at the portraits, followed by artist statements, below.
“A self-portrait is meant to represent who you are. I am who I am because of my family. The concept of this scrapbook selfie portrait came from the nostalgia of arts & crafts, and creating photo books with memories. This is just a glimpse of the people that molded me into the person I am today. #nofilter.” Jackie, office manager
“I am the protagonist in the narrative of my life. I stand center stage. I am the performer, the music and the audience. Every time I look around me I am reflected back in the form of my judgments, dreams and insecurities. Such an oddity the self-portrait; to capture your likeness when you couldn’t possibly get away from it if you tried. This self-portrait is a digital painting, done on the iPad.” John, senior digital artist
“I received a stamp collection from my grandmother a few years ago. She told me my grandfather would love to collect stamps from all over the world. With a huge love for design history, my grandmother knew I’d like them just as much as my grandfather did. Stamps travel all over the world representing where they are from. I wanted to represent a part of my heritage, by imagining what I would be like if I were to have lived during the time and place my father was born.” Tatiana, junior graphic designer
“This selfie is made up of words that describe my interests and personality traits. The chosen words range from personal to public associations.” Brendan, junior graphic designer
Government Center Garage redevelopment project rebranded as Bulfinch Crossing
This month we were proud to announce a new brand and name for the Government Center Garage: Bulfinch Crossing. The development will be a 2.9 million-square-foot mixed-use development in Boston’s Bulfinch Triangle, shared REBusiness Online. As reported in Banker & Tradesman, we are creating virtual reality tours of the property and have used drones to shoot films showing off the harbor and skyline views from the planned skyscrapers on the site. Together with The HYM Investment Group and National Real Estate Advisors LLC, we worked to find a new name with the area that holds significance in Boston, and the Boston Business Journal shared how the rebranding aims to reflect the abutting Bulfinch Triangle Historic District, a district planned by Boston-born Charles Bulfinch, who is widely considered to be the first American architect. Curbed shared that when completed, the complex will include six buildings: One Congress, a 1,000,000-square-foot office tower; one high-rise residential building; one mid-rise residential building; and three additional mid-rise buildings. See our rendering of the project:
Virtual reality sells at One Legacy West
Gaedeke Group in Dallas, Texas is using virtual reality to visualize what the One Legacy West development will look like before it’s built. With the help of Neoscape’s virtual reality experience (VRX), Belinda Dabliz, who is overseeing the leasing efforts of One Legacy West for Gaedeke Group, told the Dallas Business Journal that “the results have changed the leasing game.” She talked about the added value of VR in leasing, saying that “all the same leasing tools still apply, but [VR] is now one more tool we can use and people can move around and really see it.” In addition to providing the VR technology, we also created renderings for One Legacy West:
Who’s moving into Boston Landing
Boston Landing was named one of the nine transformative projects currently underway in Boston by Curbed this month, and the 15-acre project in Brighton will soon include a hotel, a practice center for the Bruins and the Celtics, housing and a new commuter rail station. Also in June, New Balance opened its interactive flagship store at Boston Landing. According to the Boston Business Journal, it was important to New Balance that the company was the development’s first retailer, and hopes its move will attract others. BostInno revealed that the store will provide an experience called Made.Boston, where visitors can watch as limited edition 574’s are made onsite. The Boston Herald added that the development has even added a new landmark: a 68-foot Warrior hockey stick outside the Bruins’ new practice rink. See our rendering of the development here:
CetraRuddy designs the Meatpacking District’s tallest tower
According to The Architect’s Newspaper, the Meatpacking District will soon to be the home of a new 18-story office building designed by New York–based architecture and interior design firm CetraRuddy. Due to a changing marketplace in the neighborhood, CetraRuddy’s client requested that firm transforms their original hotel design into an office building with more than 144,000 rentable square feet of space. As reported in Bisnow, the property is really two: 412 West 15th St, where an 18-story tower broke ground a few months ago, and 413 West 14th St, which will adjoin the site first tower from the back. Our rendering of the building below: