Getting clients to fully understand two-dimensional architectural plans can be challenging. Getting consensus from administrators, physicians, and medical staff on design decisions can be even more difficult. 

Physical room mock-ups have shown to be an effective tool that allows users to collaboratively design a particular room or space. While mock-up rooms encourage discussion and allow a true scale experience of a room, they can be expensive and time-intensive, and they take up space in an institution that is often hard to find. 

Today, technology allows designers to create rooms within a virtual environment. No construction or large warehouse space is required. Much like a physical mock-up, virtual mock-up rooms can offer a useful design tool that allows users to immerse themselves into the space and experience reality–with the goal of getting feedback and ultimate consensus on everything from functional layout to room size and room finishes.  

Experiencing virtual mock-ups can spur focused discussions about space and layout and allow clients to provide real-time feedback on how the space feels and how it needs to work. It can even allow users to move furniture and equipment in real-time and test new layouts. This can be extremely helpful in equipment-intensive rooms such as ORs or trauma rooms–especially where there are multidisciplinary teams that all have specific needs that must be accommodated within one space. 

Using full immersion virtual mock-ups as part of the design process is becoming a reality and is a communication tool that will bridge the gap between lines on paper and the actual space. Ultimately, it will engage clients sooner in the design process and allow users to understand spaces better. In turn, it will allow clients to provide helpful feedback to designers, finally encouraging a stronger consensus on decisions about design.