How to use Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR & AR) in landscape design?

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies have been rapidly recognized in architecture, business negotiations, and educational programs because they are believed to be effective in enhancing the quality and interacting with a created sсene or a model. But VR & AR can be also helpful in landscape design.

In modern landscape design, a scene plays an important role in presenting spatial relationships, structure and node sequence. Augmented Reality that blends the digital and real-world into one visual and audio experience, in landscape design has certain advantages in comparison with other representation tools traditionally used (2D drawings, images or videos). That’s why at Virtualist we offer a new way to plan and reveal a client’s future outdoor space. Based on AR solutions, our app allows users to give a brand new view of their future garden, or any outdoor area, that is true to scale and ready to explore in real-time from any angle. Moreover, AR brings huge opportunities for cutting costs and delays in the development due to identifying design risks at an early stage of your project. So how exactly can this technology interest you as a designer?

Emotional connection with the environment

One of the most important characteristics of VR and AR is to create the immersive feeling of “being in the real world”. Through the interaction between you and devices, you can truly experience the existence of the virtual environment. The application of Virtual & Augmented Reality (VR & AR) technology in landscape scene construction makes up users’ experience of uncompleted landscape design and creates a new way for a designer to explain the project.

For example, constructing a landscape design scene, you can add textures, materials, and geolocated sunlight. Moreover, energy changes resulting from the number of users involved in the scene will trigger the sensor for new changes and form a different landscape. Also, the landscape model will be able to reflect the invisible forces in a visible way. This interaction between people and the environment can be achieved only through VR/AR devices and helps users interact naturally with multidimensional virtual environments.

Сompare different prototypes at no extra cost

Another benefit of VR and AR in design visualization is that it enables the comparison of different concepts at the same time. For example, in the 3D interactive virtual environments, designers and clients can explore and interact with several virtual spaces. They can also convert the data into a simulation, and modify the objectives as they wish in this simulation.

The usage of virtual worlds in the field of landscape design (and architecture too) can benefit you and your customers in terms of understanding the essence of a created style. Being able to look at the materials installed helps them make the right decisions. You can very clearly present that information to your client.

Connect the public with landscapes (real or nonexistent)

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (overlaying virtual data on real-world images) could well teach the general public to connect with its surroundings better as technology facilitates the transmission of information. Some public authorities, like Lyon in France, already use this technology to communicate with locals about urban redevelopment. The University of Exeter in England uses it to show the biodiversity in green spaces on its campus.

A similar case happened in Szczecin (Poland) where our team at Pixel Legend in collaboration with the Architizer A+ laureate Freedomes worked together on the interactive projection system called Hyperdome. Dome was active on an island for 3.5 months and was visited by over 5000 guests who saved 150 scenes in the cloud. While younger guests built scenes for fun, adults argued how the industrial areas should blend with commerce, cultural and residential zones on the island. With the free Virtualist app users and city officials were able to view their scenes later at home and analyze further.

The quality of the VR environments exceeded expectations. The model has an amazingly high level of definition and details users could immerse yourself in. Dome was also featured in numerous local, national and international media. Due to this project we scored the award of the President and the City Council of Szczecin for the innovative services in the commercial category. 

This case shows new opportunities of VR application in landscape design and restoring the urban environment. Moreover, it can help landscape architects apply VR and AR to rebuild lost or destroyed environments. 

Implement complex projects

In comparison with interior architecture where the created spaces and objects are static, landscape architecture deals with dynamic exterior spaces. The main challenge for each landscape architect is the realization of an architectural vision, which conceptually is based on architectural objects but also combined with living materials like trees, shrubs, herbs, and grasses (planting objects).

vr tour lin'an history museum

A shot from virtual reality tour of the Lin’an History Museum. Source:

AR is particularly great for showcasing hardscaping projects, namely outdoor living spaces, due to their complexity. The software is capable of rendering large, complex designs such as parks and golf courses, as well as residential landscapes. Space can be filled with people to help determine how space works when crowded and it can be view in daytime and nighttime settings. Augmented reality would allow you to save time by superimposing the render over reality instead of building out the environment.

From theory to practice

Designers can directly edit design elements through AR technology to realize the workflow of experience-compare-edit as a whole. We hope that the examples and benefits mentioned above have changed your opinion about AR application in design and want you to try it for your own projects. Especially given the fact that during the first 14 days you can evaluate all Virtualist software features for free.

VR landscape design in Virtualist
AR landscape design in Virtualist mobile app

Based  on VR-Platform  technology, the implementation process of virtual reality  in landscape design has the following steps:

1. Create your own scene. Our software allows importing any 3D geometry in the industry standard file formats.

2. Customize textures. Use our powerful editing tools to position your models, change their textures and materials. Set the location to see how your project looks in geolocated sunlight.

3.Edit the virtual reality scene. You can walk around the objects and inspect them from every angle.

4. Experience virtual reality scenes with 3D devices and share them with your customers. 

Modern technologies make the construction of landscape scenes more effective. Augmented Reality is speeding up and revolutionizing the design industry, moving the design process into a more cost-effective stage because it allows designed projects and even spaces to be analyzed in reality faster due to AR software and devices. An immersive virtual environment system is a large integrated multi-level environment created by computer graphics, image processing, and pattern recognition, intelligent interface technology, speech processing, and audio and video technology, network technology, parallel processing technology and high-performance computer systems. Contrary to popular belief, creating a project for virtual reality doesn’t require complicated special expertise, you only need to have high-quality software that has a VR/AR export option such as Virtualist app.

6 thoughts on “How to use Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR & AR) in landscape design?”

  1. Spot on! Instead of paper drawings and plans, clients can walk into a VR model and see for themselves what their project will look like when it’s complete. Coming from the AEC industry, we frequently work with a firm called They’ve come up with a VR-based fully immersive product that improves design collaboration between stakeholders and has been helping architects overcome these problems for the past year. Their first hand experience in bringing on board some of the biggest AEC firms in India and Southeast Asia was a challenge at first but, once they were on board, they could quickly see what they were missing out so far.
    If you are interested in this article, you might like to check them out for some of the interesting things they’ve been doing recently.

  2. The combination of the traditional landscape gardening and the emerging city planning combined together gave landscape architecture its unique focus. Frederick Law Olmsted used the term ‘landscape architecture’ using the word as a profession for the first time when designing the Central Park .

  3. AR s fabrication and construction applications have been considered a type of holy grail for the technology ever since its inception. SHoP Architects has perhaps the best sense of what an AR-enriched future could look like. The firm broke new ground with the design and fabrication of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where 12,000 facade panels, each distinct from one another, were cut directly from a high-resolution 3D model created on software more commonly used in the aerospace industry.

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  5. Looking to use this technology for client garden/ landscape design in southern Vermont. New to this ‘game’

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