Augmented Reality Gaming in Sustainable Design Education

Steven Ayer, John I. Messner, Chimay J. Anumba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


It is important for students in academic disciplines related to building design and construction to gain an understanding of the different sustainable design considerations that will affect a building's performance. Additionally, it is important for these students to be able to generate, visualize, and assess the performance of alternative design options to determine the best possible approach. The research presented in this paper tasked students with performing a building redesign activity in which they had to design, visualize, and assess exterior wall designs to retrofit an existing facility and improve its sustainable performance. It was of interest to understand how augmented reality and simulation game technologies would influence students' design processes during the activity. To measure student performance, 34 architectural engineering students, 47 architecture students, and 27 civil engineering students were given the same design activity using an augmented reality-based educational game called ecoCampus. The results of their work were compared with those of 65 students who completed a similar design activity using only blank sheets of paper and of another group of 23 students who used a paper-based approximation of the computerized ecoCampus. The findings indicate that students in all disciplines who used ecoCampus were able to break the tendency toward design fixation. These students were also able to use the application to assess their designs and generate additional concepts with better overall performance across all disciplines compared with the students who used paper-based formats. Although these observed behaviors were beneficial, the students who used ecoCampus also demonstrated a tendency to experiment with the application and occasionally create unrealistic, novelty designs to try to break the game. The findings from this work will help inform future efforts to leverage augmented reality and simulation game technologies for other use cases to allow users to assess what-if design scenarios in which they might otherwise be prone to design fixation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number04015012
JournalJournal of Architectural Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Augmented reality
  • Educational game
  • Engineering education
  • Innovation
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Building and Construction
  • Architecture
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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