Jianfei Chu

Zaha Hadid Architects
“Play, Design, Build – Honduras Configurator a Case Study”

At Zaha Hadid Architects we have crafted an architectural and technological platform to create and curate residential developments that can prosper socially and ecologically in Roatan. It is a specific response to the climate, terrain and environment of Roatan. It embodies the lifestyle choices on offer on the island and enables the inhabitants of the residences to turn them into their personalized homes.

Shifting design thinking to game technologies and platform development has empowered our capacity to strategically intervene in conventional procurement processes and bring together stakeholders to deliver high value, locally relevant, resource effective, supply chain integrated design solutions for residential living. Additionally, we have offered the ability to position units, configure add-ons to the envelope, and customise the interior space layout and fittings as well.

The configurator leverages ray tracing to achieve the high levels of visual fidelity for both the interior and exterior of units. One of the challenges we encountered early on was user interface and experience design, developing device actions, storyboarding, head up displays, and sequence behaviours to maintain a seamless, immersive gameplay. These aspects, typically prevalent in gaming environments, are new for the architectural domain.

We are exploring the use of digital, game environments along with stakeholder-related data to generate geometric and information models in real time. Also, we provide decision-support analytics to facilitate gameplay, alert to potential issues, errors and suggested next moves. This co-authoring of design space facilitates coordination of building elements typically associated with detail design stages at a much earlier stage and thus lending transparency to the entire process of home buying and development. Through this platform we have empowered owners to co-design their homes while shifting the traditional dynamics of architect-client relationships.

The immersive environment built in Unreal Engine enhances the user experience through a real-time architectural visualization walkthrough while increasing mass customization and overall unit variability to suit individual needs.

Jianfei Chu is an architectural designer based in the UK and China. Currently, he is part of the Zaha Hadid Computation and Design Research Group(ZHACODE). He is interested in exploring the computational design methodology and brings the VFX techniques and pipelines from the gaming and filming industry into the Archiviz field. Jianfei is attempted to optimize the Design-Communication-Fabrication process in the architectural industry by customised design and design automation. Jianfei and the CODE team developed the first few generations of game engine based architectural configurators and successfully applied this innovative estate scheme into the real market.