What is it about?

Our research focused on how everyday people can actively participate in the early stages of designing urban neighbourhoods using virtual reality technology. We developed a framework that allows non-experts to engage in design conversations and contribute their ideas to shape the future look and feel of their neighbourhoods. By integrating immersive virtual environments and special methods for engaging participants, we created a way for non-experts to continuously work on designing urban spaces. We also analyzed how people interact with the design tools and influence the virtual designs. Our study aimed to understand how immersive 3D models and conversations impact this process, laying the groundwork for future research to explore the significance of these design discussions. Ultimately, our work has important implications for making urban design more inclusive, improving communication in the design process, and showcasing the potential for everyday people to make meaningful contributions to shaping urban spaces using virtual reality.

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Why is it important?

We empower non-experts to actively participate in shaping the design of their neighbourhoods through immersive virtual reality collaboration. This inclusive approach allows for a broader range of perspectives and ideas to be incorporated into urban design processes, potentially leading to more comprehensive and community-focused outcomes. Our research democratizes urban design, fosters community engagement, and ultimately creates more inclusive and people-centred built environments by enabling laypeople to engage in design discourse within virtual environments.


We envisioned a more inclusive and community-driven approach to urban design, facilitated by the active participation of laypeople in shaping their neighbourhoods through immersive virtual reality collaboration. We incorporated a wider range of perspectives and ideas, leading to urban spaces that better reflect the needs and aspirations of the residents. Socially, it holds the potential to democratize urban design, empowering diverse voices and fostering a sense of ownership. Moreover, from a technological standpoint, our work underscores the transformative potential of immersive virtual environments in facilitating meaningful design conversations, paving the way for innovative and impactful approaches to participatory urban planning. Our research offers perspectives on the potential for more inclusive, community-driven, and technologically advanced urban design processes that prioritize the voices and visions of the people who will inhabit these spaces.

Professor Marc Aurel Schnabel
Xi'an Jiaotong Liverpool University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Laypeople's Collaborative Immersive Virtual Reality Design Discourse in Neighborhood Design, Frontiers in Robotics and AI, October 2019, Frontiers,
DOI: 10.3389/frobt.2019.00097.
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