Between 3-D Computer Models and 3-D Physical Models: People’s Understanding and Preference
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Good communication between architects and clients is an important factor for a successful architectural project. It is critical for architects to present their design ideas effectively and unambiguously to reduce or eliminate their clients’ misunderstanding. For people who are not professionally trained in architecture, a three-dimensional (3-D) model is one of the most effective medium of communication. The purpose of this study is to compare laypeople’s understanding and preference of digital and physical models, how these models are used in design practice and how architects evaluate their client’s understanding and preference. In such context, this research study consisted of a quantitative phase and a qualitative phase. The quantitative part of the study compared desktop-Based interactive 3-D architectural models to physical models by investigating laypeople's understanding of spatial layout and their preferences regarding these two models. An office complex and a single-family residence building were designed, and each type was represented by both physical and digital forms with the same level of detail. Participants were asked to memorize the building components and reassemble them Based on their memory. The qualitative phase involved a series of semi-structured interviews with eight experienced design professionals, its aim was to collect their opinions about how they perceive their clients' preferences and understandings of these two types of models during their practice. The data from both phases were analyzed. In general, Results from the quantitative phase reveals that laypeople who studied physical models performed their tasks significantly better than those studied digital models. The qualitative phase discusses architects’ choice of models, the factors that drive their decisions, the communication with clients, and their clients’ understanding of those models.
Jiang, Yin (2014). Between 3-D Computer Models and 3-D Physical Models: People’s Understanding and Preference. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from