VR increases confidence in renovations

News - 20 December 2022 - Communication BK

A resident is facing a major renovation of his rental property. What does the renovation entail? What choices can a tenant make himself? What kind of preparations should he make, and what will the final result look like? Virtual reality enables residents to walk through all of the stages in half an hour, from demolition to the final result.

A heat pump, high-performance double glazing, insulation: housing associations often enthusiastically embrace technologies that stand to make their properties more sustainable. But the tenants often get lost in that process. Using VR goggles, residents can virtually walk through their home as each stage of the renovation unfolds before them visually. Besides choosing materials and colours, for example, residents are also shown what kind of preparatory work is needed before renovation work begins. Think, for example, of moving and covering furniture and packing the contents of kitchen cupboards. And if a tenant chooses to move the kitchen, then the consequences of that choice are also given ample attention. The floor covering will need to be replaced, for instance.

Residents take control

This is a key driver for project leader Clarine van Oel. ‘VR ensures that social tenants take control and decide for themselves how to prepare for renovation work in their homes.’ If making social housing more sustainable is only achieved through technological innovations in a collective approach to sustainability, then there is a danger of increasing the distance between the landlord and tenant. ‘It is often said that social tenants do not want to be involved in what awaits them during the renovation of their homes,’ Van Oel says. ‘VR-Renovate has now shown that if you visually take people through what awaits them using interactive virtual reality, they get a better understanding of what it entails. That actually makes people want to get involved.’ Indeed, it empowers social tenants, including those who are low-literate or have no command of Dutch.

Headerphoto: Maxim Hopman on Unsplash

More information

  • This item is part of an article previously published at NWO, read the full article here.
  • Project leader Clarine van Oel is an environmental psychologist and associate professor at TU Delft’s Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment. Van Oel has managed several research projects on the participation of vulnerable people. For the past two years, she has been project manager of the VR-Renovate project funded by NWO’s Transitions and Behaviour programme. This project aims to improve the communication process in renovation projects with social housing tenants through the use of interactive virtual reality.
  • More information can be found at her staff page.
  • Read a previously published news release about the study here.

This project is a collaboration between (Architecture and the Built Environment), Elmar Eisemann (Computer Science), Arno Freeke (VR-Zone/NMC), and partners from practice Dirk Zuiderveld (Noorderberg & Partners), Mateboer Bouw B.V., Knaapen Renovatie en Onderhoud B.V., and Zaanderwijk Beheer B.V.

Further participating in this study are:
PhD candidates Chris Benning (ABE) and Peter Lu (EEMCS) and researcher Jelle Koolwijk (ABE)