Virtual Reality (VR) opens the opportunity of rapid prototyping of Way Showing concepts. This has several potential benefits.
1. Different designers can create concepts for the same environment, which can rapidly be switched and compared with each other, the comparison revealing benefits and drawbacks of the designs.
2. Depending on the modelling effort with regard to the environment, VR allows immersive inspection of signage in context, much like placing real signs in real environments. Inspections can be made both of how the signage fits the environment at large (placemaking) and on the instrumental use of the sign (placement in the way showing system, readability of signs).
3. VR also allows prototyping for buildings that are inaccessible to real life prototyping efforts. This can happen for various reasons, for instance the building may not have been built yet, or it may be in continuous use making real life prototyping inconvenient.
In this presentation we discuss experiences of using virtual reality as a way showing tool in design education. Our students have had access both to a real building, and to a virtual version of the same building. They have had the opportunity to comparing their signs placed both in a virtual rendering of a building and in the same (corresponding) places in the real building. This gave rise to several issues that are important for the students to experience, for them to be aware of potential benefits and pitfalls of VR as a design tool.