Virtual reality allows highly-detailed observations, accurate behavior measurements, and systematic environmental manipulations under controlled laboratory circumstances. Therefore, it has the potential to be a valuable research tool for studies in human-environment interaction and ‘pre-occupancy' building evaluation. In order to fully understand VR as a valid environmental Virtual reality (VR) allows for highly-detailed observations, accurate behavior measurements, and systematic environmental manipulations under controlled laboratory circumstances. It therefore has the potential to be a valuable research tool for studies in human–environment interaction, such as building usability studies and post- as well as pre-occupancy building evaluation in architectural research and practice. In order to fully understand VR as a valid environmental representation, it is essential to examine to what extent not only user cognition and behavior, but also users' experiences are analogous in real and virtual environments. This work presents a multi-method approach with two studies that investigated the correspondence of building users' experience in a real conference center and a highly-detailed virtual model of the same building as well as a third study that virtually implemented systematic redesigns to the existing building layout. In the context of reporting users' experiential building evaluations, this article discusses the potential, prerequisites and opportunities for the implementation of virtual environments as an empirical research tool in the field of human–environment interaction. Based on quantitative data, few statistically significant differences between ratings of the real and the virtual building were found; however analyses based on qualitative data revealed differences relating to atmospherics. The main conclusion of this article is that VR has a strong potential to be used as an empirical research tool in psychological and architectural research and that future studies could supplement behavioral validation.
|Computers, Environment and Urban Systems
|Early online date
|17 Oct 2015
|Published - 1 Nov 2015