Virtual Reality a game changer for retail leasing

Virtual Reality a game changer for retail leasing

While there will always be a place for more traditional design visualisation techniques such as sketches, renders and physical models to showcase development sites and tenancy locations, VR is shaping as an industry game changer and an essential addition to every leasing agent’s toolkit.

Leading architectural, interior and graphic design firm Buchan recently produced a detailed 360-degree VR retail tour for Yamanto Central, a master planned 20,000 m² shopping, dining and lifestyle destination located at the southern gateway to Ipswich.

Senior Associate Anthony Rawson said Buchan used VR to allow leasing agents to provide a more accurate impression of the design and space to potential retailers interested in a tenancy.

“Nearly all forms of visualisation involve technical elements such as plans, elevations and sections, which require a large degree of interpretation by the viewer,” he said.

“Even highly stylised views, such as ultra wide-angle perspectives, can lack context and provide an overly dramatic impression of a design.

“While scale physical models can help with these limitations and understanding the built form, they still lack the ability to convey the experience of being within a building or viewing a structure at true scale – this is where VR is so effective.

“VR can give a completely accurate impression of the scale and volume of a space. High-resolution stereo views, carefully textured and lit, can offer an uncannily real experience of a number of design options, giving clients much greater understanding of their choices and likely outcomes.”

As the technology has evolved, practitioners have been able to add point-to-point navigation, infographics, plan reference information and spatial sound to their VR tours to enhance the user experience further.

Mr Rawson said VR, particularly headset VR, was also valuable early in the design process, helping identify design challenges and prompt quick iterations – effectively saving time and resources.

Development consulting group DMA Partners has been tasked with populating the retail space in Yamanto Central.

DMA Senior Leasing Executive, Ewen Burg said using VR technology to deliver a compelling virtual experience enabled prospective tenants to immerse themselves in the possibilities of the site.

“VR allows us to provide prospective tenants with something tangible. We are no longer talking with retailers about a concept – we are now able to show them the centre and individual store structure well before construction commences,” he said.

“The leasing strategy has always focused on introducing retailers to the unique opportunity the centre provides. The 3D visualisation puts people on the ground, allowing them to walk through Yamanto Central and experience the benefits of location and demonstrate the calibre of design first hand.

“This is absolutely something DMA Partners will look to roll out across future projects.”

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