We will see major changes in how we live and consume within the next few years. Society is changing. Architecture, fashion and retail need to change with it. Brick and mortar stores are no longer a reliable option for many businesses, with tax and lease prices exponentially increasing. Many world-renowned and successful retail businesses are solely online, leaving small physical retailers in the dust. How will this affect the landscape of Auckland City? High Street is known as the fashion capital of Auckland, a long one-way street packed with niche to mainstream fashionable retail stores branching out on either side of the street. Some stores evoke a mysterious presence, sparking the curiosity of the passersby, while certain stores are located underground and have semi-hidden entrances. Although many stores that used to exist on High Street are no longer there due to the economic disruption occurring after 2020, the rich physical retail experience could be coming to an end. What will High Street look like in the future?
This thesis explores the power of Virtual Reality and how this technology will revolutionise physical architecture. It is structured around three sections: (Part I) The virtual world (Part II) Our spatial world (Part III) The design proposal addresses the question, How will mixed reality technology reactivate the declining urban retail environment?
This thesis endeavours to critique the societal impacts of the recent social/economic crisis following the year 2020 and to respond in an experimental yet revolutionising way. It plays on and amplifies the positive and/or negative aspects that virtual reality can provide, to find out how the cityscape can be reshaped through this new medium of Virtual Reality Architecture.