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Time and Relative Dimensions in Space: The Possibilities of Utilising Virtual[ly Impossible] Environments in Architecture

Part 2 Dissertation 2013
Chris Kelly
University of Greenwich | UK
Our understanding of space is not a direct function of the sensory input received from our sense organs but a perceptual undertaking in the brain where we are constantly making subconscious judgements that accept or reject possibilities supplied to us from our sensory receptors. This process can lead to contradictions between physical reality and what we believe to be reality and can be manipulated to create illusions or distortions of space that the brain perceives to be reality.

This paper explores the way in which immersive virtual environments could be deployed within the physical world as overlays that manipulate our perception of presence and spatial relationships to expand or compress space. The thesis investigates existing research in neuroscience, psychology and philosophy, which has been complemented with empirical primary tests, to identify gaps in our perception that lead to a contradiction between our perception and reality. It was found that when walking in a physical space our perception of distance and orientation is incredibly malleable and can be manipulated by replacing the visual sense with a virtual stimulus that differs from what we would experience in reality. This manipulation can take the form of redirection techniques, such as rotation and translation gains and overlapping architecture which result in a stretching or compressing of distances in the virtual environment we are viewing whilst moving through a physical space.

The ability to manipulate the illusion and perception of presence and space within an environment provides numerous opportunities in the field of architecture. It allows for the creation of extensions to physical space through virtual means, effectively creating a TARDIS space, one that appears much larger than the physical space it occupies. This thesis sets out the sensory and perceptual processes that allow these manipulations to occur and applies the opportunities it creates to a spatial design context speculating on the possibility of using virtual means to extend the physical space we inhabit.

Chris Kelly

Mike Aling
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