How Sounds Hannam used Unity to turn a complex cultural space into an interactive 3D environment
The Sounds Hannam Project is an architectural visualization project that digitally created Sounds Hannam, a complex cultural space in Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, using High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP) in Unity. This project offers interactive content that lets you virtually explore the Sounds Hannam cultural space by navigating with a mouse and a keyboard. You can click on a store in the building that interests you to see the shortest path to it from your current location. A pop-up window will also display some details about the store you just clicked.
This project utilized Unity’s HDRP, which allows for creating high-quality visuals, and Shader Graph, which lets you build shaders visually by using nodes instead of writing code. HDRP, Shader Graph, and other cutting-edge technology from Unity made it possible to present details such as internal lighting and natural sunlight overlapping in certain spots, external foliage swaying in the wind, and the glimmer of leaves reflecting light.
Unity ArtEngine, the AI-powered tool that enables you to create ultra-realistic worlds , helped speed up the realistic visualization of the Sounds Hannam design by processing the texture of the buildings’ outer walls.
Using ArtEngine’s Seam Removal function on real photos helped remove possible seams when processing textures, and the Contents-Aware Fill function helped fill in unnecessary, damaged, or missing parts of the scans. There are many other helpful features for creating textures with photographed images, such as doubly enhancing a JPEG image’s pixel data that was lost during file compression.
PBR Material Generation was used on the external wall to calculate the albedo, normal, roughness, glossiness, height, etc. from standard photographs to create PBR material that dynamically reacted to the lighting.
Project workflow & beautification
The Sounds Hannam Project Beautification can be largely divided into the buildings’ external appearance, the stores inside, and the interactive elements. The outside appearance was created by first modeling the overall construction. Then, landscaping for filling empty spaces and props such as tables, chairs, and umbrellas were created, while also including surrounding buildings as opaque virtual structures.
The stores inside the buildings and the interior design were realized in a more limited way as the Sounds Hannam Revit data didn’t include the indoor information. The interior design of the external stores in the basement, 1st and 2nd floors, and the space above the 2nd floor were presented as scenes seen through glass windows.
The way the view changes based on the lighting is one of the highlights of the Sounds Hannam Project. You can see how the buildings’ exterior changes under various lighting conditions as you switch the project’s mode between day and night.
When we first received the Revit data, we thought it would be fun to include all the various details of the buildings as interactive elements. Most of it was dummy data because we couldn’t use the Revit data. We still included it so each store would display relevant BIM information.
As the project allows for various types of interactions, we included a navigation feature that shows the shortest path possible to a selected store, a pop-up feature that shows details about the stores inside Sounds Hannam, and a color-changing feature for the props.
The navigation feature was inspired by my impression that the stores were hiding here and there during my first visit to the physical building. Like GPS in a car, this feature helps you take a virtual tour of the stores inside. It was developed to make it easy to find stores when adding interactive elements to the project.
The Seoul Office Project and the Sounds Hannam Project
One of the previous works by the Korean Office of Unity Technologies was the Seoul Office Project. The project received a lot of attention for realistically portraying the actual Seoul Office. It had many things in common with Sounds Hannam as well as some differences.
The overall workflow was similar since both projects were architectural visualization projects and walkthroughs (intended as an examination of the plan to detect the design’s errors and correct them). We hoped to make the UI and interactive parts different from the Sounds Hannam Project. While the Seoul Office Project lets you experience going from one room to another in the building, Sounds Hannam took advantage of having access to the full models of the buildings. This allowed us to create a vivid experience, as if you’re looking at real buildings, by accurately depicting the exact location of stores within them.
Seoul Office and Sounds Hannam were very different in terms of covered space and the original data received. The raw data of the Seoul Office had been provided by an interior design company, so it included the detailed SketchUp model of the interior design.
On the other hand, the raw data of Sounds Hannam had been provided by the architecture firm, including various information for a total of five buildings in Revit, but the models themselves were relatively simple.
The future of architecture beautification
Unity Engine’s strength lies in the fact that it allows for high-quality 3D visualization with simple settings and controls. It is highly expected that this advantage will help with promoting built structures in the architectural industry, increase the accuracy of designs, and enable you to test and develop experimental concepts.
Creating visual materials for walkthroughs and presentations lets you interact with what the actual structure would look like from various angles. This makes it possible for timely identification and correction of flaws in the design. Moreover, the virtual tour lets you quickly adapt to the client’s needs and demands in the design and even test those changes, which can help encourage the client’s decision making.
“This project done with Unity allowed us to present Sounds Hannam to our customers online and create various interactive content. I believe this will open new doors to introduce the beautiful and sensational spots of Sounds Hannam in an innovative and effective way.“ — Kim Jeong-Ho, CEO of Sounds Hannam