Rebecca Muyal
Experiencing conceptual design in three dimensions: an evaluation of CAVE-like environments for interior design education

Advisor: Lynn Chalmers
Internal Examiner: Jae-Sung Chon
External Examiner: Joanna Black

The purpose of this research is to determine the value of CAVE-like immersive environments to interior design education. The immersive environment can provide experience in and visualization of conceptual designs and life safety elements in interior spaces. In the narrative of lived experience programmatic requirements such as aesthetics, ambience and functional use of space are identified as elements and principles in conceptual design while the narrative of regulatory requirements and life safety markers ensure the safety of users and their ability to safely evacuate in case of emergency. The research aims to identify the possibilities of the three dimensional immersive environment to provide experience, to visualize conceptual designs and to understand the impact of life safety requirements. More specifically the dissertation explores how CAVE-like environments can provide spatial experience to give meaning to conceptual designs and life safety narratives. As an alternate to two dimensional surfaces CAVE-like immersive environments provide a place for exploration, development and assessment of concepts. The methodologies employed in this research included a site visit to CAVE2™ the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago which provided me with first-hand experience and, examples of applications and other research using CAVE™ and CAVE-like environments. An online survey was used to determine if CAVE-like environments were perceived to add value to design education. Results suggest a willingness by educators and students to further explore CAVE-like environments as tools to add value to interior design studio teaching and learning by providing experience in an immersive three dimensional environment.

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