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AUS architecture students bring works into virtual reality
Combining virtual reality with architectural renderings to create an immersive experience, architecture students from American University of Sharjah’s (AUS) College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) are embracing new ways to present their work to the public.
As part of the 2040: d3 Architecture Exhibition at Dubai Design Week, recent AUS graduates Ali Sader, Arian Saghafifar and Mohamed Fakhry presented their work entitled Monolithic Inhabitation, which was developed during their final year of studies at CAAD.
Working under the guidance of Professor of Architecture Michael Hughes, the students designed an affordable housing unit set on the AUS campus that can temporarily accommodate visiting professors. The proposed design integrates sustainable practices, such as using local materials, environmental building systems, passive ventilation strategies and indirect sunlight to reduce heat and create a cave-like atmosphere within the interior spaces.
Engaging with Zlatan Filopovic, Associate Professor of Multimedia Design, whose own VR experience of UAE heritage site Al-Jazirah Al-Hamra was featured in the same exhibition, the students were inspired to take their concept and schematic designs to the next level by representing it in virtual reality.
“As architects we often do a whole lot of imagining. We observe renders and drawings and imagine, imagine and imagine how a space could look and feel. Yet, when it comes to Virtual Reality (VR) that is when the imagination stops and those projects become a reality,” said Sader.
Delivering the UAE’s top programs in architecture and design, as designated by QS World University Subject Rankings (2021), CAAD provides students with a solid grounding in design theory and practice through the first year Foundations Program. During this time, students are encouraged to experiment with different design techniques, applications and media—skills they will take into their major studies in architecture, interior design, design management, multimedia design or visual communication.
CAAD graduate Saghafifar also exhibited his solo work entitled Refugee Shelter – Alternative Narratives and Ecosystems in Architecture, which saw him embracing the opportunity to combine architecture with multimedia design again. The studio project was done under the guidance of Professor of Architecture George Katodrytis.
“VR is an ever-evolving technology and even today one could feel fully immersed within their projects and spaces. The potential of VR in the future is exciting for architectural representation and we cannot wait to continue to build on it and incorporate it into future projects to allow others to visualize those dreams and ideas that we always had hidden within our minds,” Katodrytis said.
Team member Mohamed Fakri credited CAAD for its impact on his future as a designer.
“CAAD is responsible for providing us with amazing faculty and facilities that make it possible for our imaginations to become realities. The faculty is always pushing the students to become better designers by placing design in the forefront of everything and I believe that is what makes it unique compared to other colleges in the middle east,” he said.
The exhibition also featured works by students of AUS architecture professors Patrick Rhodes and Gregory Spaw, shown alongside those by major architectural firms such as Dabbagh Architects, MEAN* Middle East Architecture Network, RMJM Dubai, Beyrac Architects and Tariq Khayyal Design Partners. International award-winning firm X-Architects founded by AUS alumni Ahmed Al Ali and Farid Esmaeil exhibited work as well. All designs were submitted with the goals of “The Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan” for a sustainable urban development in mind.
For more information about the regionally acclaimed programs offered at the College of Architecture, Art and Design at American University of Sharjah, visit www.aus.edu/caad.