The AEC community is beginning to adopt game engines to communicate and visualize their ideas as they become more affordable and user-friendly. However, beyond just visualization, can we harness the iterative, play-based nature of games to enhance the design process through collective intelligence and with AI to simulate and explore scenarios we may never have deemed feasible before. 

We interviewed Adam Chernick, the director of interactive visualization at SHoP Architects to get his thoughts on the topic. He has vast experience developing VR and AR tools for various types of clients with unity. We asked him the following questions. We started off with some easier, more general questions and then transitioned into more complex, future-based questions.


  • Coming from an architectural background, how did you first  get interested in coding and using game engines for design?
  • Where and in which phases of design do you see game engines being the most valuable in the architectural design process?
  • Can you share with us one of your favorite ways that you have used game engines in the design process?
  • More broadly, something that we have been thinking about is the way we architectural design can be more game-like.  At the moment it seems like game engines are mainly only being used for visualization purposes, but do you see a future where the architectural workflow incorporates more features of game design, such as incorporating play and iterations?
  • Have you heard of the game Commonhood or the block by block Minecraft project?
  • Games such as these make us feel that game engines could be used to test projects in various case scenarios. How do you think designers and stakeholders could use these tools to analyze the performance of the project in terms of its social, environmental, psychological , economical impact?
  • In the near future Scenario building/simulations offered by game engines could affect how designers and stakeholders interact with design. How do you envision the ideal future design landscape and interaction with communities
  • Before we close, is there anything else you wanted to add?

During the podcast, Adam was able to share with us a lot of really good insight from his own experience about working with these tools. One interesting thing that we ended up discussion was how using game engines in design adds transparency to the design process for better or for worse. I think that our initial impressions of the software were that it could mainly be used to sell an idea to a client; however, we came to a conclusion that no amount of fancy visualization tricks or animations can fix a design that was bad in the first place. 

Another thing that we learned was that game engines have the ability to help validate the design through simulations. Adam shared an experience of how he used the game engine to model the movement of people in an office, helping to convince their client that the open plan design of the office wouldn’t cause their workers to be too distracted when other people would move around the space. We were also introduced to the concept of (Simultaneous Location and Mapping (SLAM) technology, a technology that allows data to exist permanently in a virtual space with a unique tag. It was quite interesting and we felt that such a technique could do wonders in how we could use a space to coordinate and experience design.


The Role of Game Engines in Design is a project of IAAC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia developed at Master in Advanced Computation for Architecture & Design in 2021/22 by:

Students: Sophie Moore + Daniyal Tariq

Lead faculty: Maite Bravo