Synthetic Spaces The Use of 3D Laser Scanning in Architectural Design Research

Authors: Nic Clear; Hyun Jun Park


The paper will explore recent practice-based research from Clear+Park who use 3D laser scanning to create multidisciplinary works that operate across architecture, installation, and media arts. Clear+Park use 3D scanning to capture spaces and create spatial propositions, representations and narratives that engage with, and respond to specific site narratives. Through their innovative research Clear+Park explore ways in which architects and artists can reproduce, develop, manipulate, and represent spaces using advanced digital technology.

In their recent projects Clear+Park scan sites and artefacts, then manipulate the ‘point-cloud’ data, even combining it with data from other scans. to create synthetic spatial models that exist between the virtual and the actual. Importantly the data is used with other forms of practice, particularly animation, installation, and virtual reality, to create films, immersive installations, design projects, virtual landscapes, and drawings that present innovate design research in the form of complex spatial propositions. The use of animation, post-production processes, and sound facilitates the articulation of complex narratives, addressing historical, cultural, and social issues. These projects draw upon the way the information produced by the scans can be developed to retain its technical veracity and yet the images themselves can evoke a much more speculative response to the sites.

In their film The WavEs Clear+Park have animated scans of Virginia Woolf’s writing hut in her garden in East Sussex and combined these with extracts from her experimental novel ‘The Waves’. The animated virtual camera moves through the garden in a series of tracking shots, sometimes assuming the POV of a body walking through the space, at others of a more objective disembodied camera, but also moving impossibly through walls and objects. The montage of shots combined with the overlapping extracts from the novel and the musical soundtrack try to present a journey through the garden in the form of stream of consciousness derive.

In ‘Synthetic Spaces’ Clear+Park manipulate point-cloud data from three existing buildings in Huddersfield to reflect upon the town’s past, present and future. The project was presented as an immersive installation accompanied by a series of composite drawings that represent the choreography of the virtual camera within the animations, that was taken from an analysis of the architecture itself.

For the ‘Hyperreal Huddersfield’ Project, Clear+Park took scans from Huddersfield’s iconic Queensgate Market, particularly the 21 free-standing asymmetrical hyperbolic paraboloid columns that form the roof structure to create a hybrid virtual model. The manipulation of these structures was informed by the architectural and musical compositions of Iannis Xenakis who performed in Huddersfield on three separate occasions The data was designed to explore these spaces in unique ways through the production of architectural images, animations and drawings including an immersive installation and Virtual Reality model. The overall effect of the installation and the specially constructed soundscape was to create an immersive experience where the literal description of a specific space was fragmented into an evocative collage of hyperreal spaces.

Keywords: Architecture, Laser scanning, Virtual Reality, Immersive Installation, Synthetic Space, Hyperreality