Taylors looks to AR to create the Urban Reality

Laurence DragomirMay 28, 20180 min read

The advent and continued adoption of Augmented Reality (AR) as a key design tool has made it easy for almost anyone to place virtual content in the real world.

This uptake has opened whole new markets for innovative software products across a range of industries with urban design and geospatial specialists, Taylors developing software to address the complexities of design and planning in the built environment.

Although there are many applications and devices that are AR capable, the real challenge, according to Taylors is the ability to place complex design objects into the real world effectively. The apps that will matter with respect to AR, will be those that are capable of effectively integrating location, AR and big data to deliver unique, captivating and useful experiences to clients and users. 

Taylors looks to AR to create the Urban Reality
Bourke Street Mall augmented reality. Image: Taylors

One of the main challenges in urban design is the ability for users to visualise the overall development, with traditional plans open for interpretation which then leads to variation away from the initial intent. Taylors’ mixed reality solutions allow stakeholders to essentially step into building plans and experience exactly what a project will look like once it’s completed.

Augmented and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies are free from the limitations of existing design techniques and provide an immersive experience for clients. Current representations of the built environment utilise either two dimensional plans, sections and elevations, or computer generated imagery and physical models.

The limitation and downside of these types of representations is that the observer is always positioned outside the representation, rendering them as spectators instead of participants.

Taylors realised early on that addressing these challenges would require a solution focused approach incorporating the latest in survey and geospatial technology, with the company committed to paving the way for this technology to become widespread. 

The key differences between the software at Taylors and other virtual and augmented reality techologies are tools they call the 'hologram room' and the 'hologram table'. The ability to visualise a project from different angles is a huge asset for clients and can provide assurances to all stakeholders involved in a development. 

There is a belief that once clients begin using the hologram room and see the technology used in urban design, everyone will begin using it.

The next step for Taylors will be the development of its own software providing users with the ability to alter designs in real time. Ultimately Taylors want clients to enter the hologram room with a designer and be able to change elements of their designs instantly. 

The ability to customise a neighbourhood, for example will not only save clients time, but just as importantly according to Taylors, it will also make the process more dynamic and engaging and ultimately change the way people design, plan and build.

Taylors looks to AR to create the Urban Reality
Mixed reality visualisation of a subdivision. Image: Taylors

What they say

Clients will walk into the hologram room and put on a pair of glasses, which allows them to interact with the scene. You can look under tables, around corners, see the view from an upstairs window and even bump into things. This is what it means to reproduce reality, and it has the potential to change the way the industry works.

There are a number of virtual reality companies and many urban design firms, however Taylors are trying to create the full package, where clients can not only visualise the project but also interact and alter designs in real time. Richard (Cirillo) is envisioning what the industry will look like in 10 years and pushing the company to grow in that direction and stay ahead of the trends.

Taylors’ new technology will allow clients to effectively step into building plans, walk around and see exactly what a project will look like once it’s completed. Not only that, but we’re developing software that will allow designs to be altered in real time. If a client wants to see what the neighbourhood looks like with more trees or a wider road we’ll be able to push a few buttons and change the plans instantly.

In 10 years, the use of Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies in urban design will be the norm. Once people see how effective it is in urban design, it will become standard across the industry, they won’t want to go back to the way it is done now.

- Anthony Emmerson, General Manager for the Infrastructure Team at Taylors.


We knew that this type of reality modelling would be the next frontier in spatial data. We identified that a number of years ago and made an effort to be earlier adopters of it.

Making changes during the design phase is relatively efficient to do, but if you need to make changes once construction has begun, there are huge time and cost implications. However, with augmented reality, you can see it before it’s made and identify any problems. You can’t do this with a plan or a video.

It really gives stakeholders a lot more control and flexibility in the way that they can understand and interpret a proposal. The power of this technology is giving the user the ability to go anywhere they like, and see a development from any angle.

This will revolutionise the way projects are completed, as it will no longer take weeks of going back and forth with the client to finalise designs.

- Alastair MacColl, Geospatial 3D & Technology Manager at Taylors

Laurence Dragomir

Laurence Dragomir is one of the co-founders of Urban Melbourne. Laurence has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience working in both the private and public sector specialising in architecture, urban design and planning. He also has a keen interest in the built environment, cities and Star Wars.
Augmented Reality
Urban Industry
Urban Design
Geospatial technology
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