Urban Design

Research Methods for Urban Design




Burcu Nimet Dumlu

Abstract. Virtual reality (VR) enables the controlled acquisition of physical reality into the virtual environment and provides a means of measurement for understanding spatial tendencies. The 3D aspect of the VR technology creates links with real-life experiences. Therefore, the virtual built environment can stimulate people as physical urban experiences. Room-scale experience of HTC Vive HMD (Head Mounted Display) gives the opportunity of wandering around the urban space with its fully immersive feature. The purpose of this study is to determine the spatial tendencies of the individual through distance configurations in the virtual reality environment, which Baudrillard defines as “hyperreal”, and which covers more than simulating reality. The distance structuring of the individual's unconscious relations with his environment is defined by cultural anthropologist Hall as the concept of proxemics. According to the concept of proxemics, individuals interact with the built environment and people through personal, social and public distances. The study provides a virtual space experience where users can navigate through the control via the VRSketch program, the virtual model of designed space, Google Sketchup's virtual reality plug-in. The designed space is a street with a road and buildings along the way both sides. It includes for the one side detailed models and the other side fewer details on the facades. It has been examined in the context of comprehending the tool at first participation in the experimentation. In the second participation, the user is expected to be acquainted with the environment. In the third participation, it was aimed to understand the distance configurations (proxemic tendencies) of the virtual individual. In this study, it is aimed to understand the proxemic tendencies of virtual individuals within the scope of these experiments. Users were recorded in video format during each experience. Approach and departure points are defined by distance configurations. The glance points and the pose points were determined and the users were asked about their behavior, and as a result, it was expected to understand how the architectural elements related to the distance configuration of the person. The results obtained from the experiences of virtual individuals were then compared with each other and it was aimed to determine the relationship-contradiction points. This study describes virtual reality as a tool for understanding user tendencies by recording user spatial behavior.

Keywords: Virtual reality, virtual space, proxemics, HTC Vive, VRSketch