Virtual Walk-through

Virtual Walkthrough allows participants “walk through” the target area virtually to evaluate it systematically. This method derives from the analogue method “Walkthrough (Transect walk)” but  happens in the virtual environment. It is suitable for the start-up phase and ex-post evaluation of a planning project.

Basic Information on the Method
Mode of communication
Group size
6-30, 31 and more
Geographical scale
Public space, Neighbourhood
Skills required
Basic, Average
Resources needed
Level of Involvement
Level of involvement
Inform, Consult, Involve
Type of knowledge enabled
Divergence (Broad public), Divergence (Small groups)
Additional Criteria
Planning phase
Initiatiion, Evaluation & Research
Methodological approach
Diagnostic, Expressive, Organisational

How to use the method


A digital walkthrough starts with a route selection and its visualisation by 3D modelling, videos or photographs. Several elements should be decided in this step: the detail level of the 3D model (or videos, photographs), and the theme & purpose of the walk.

During the walk

During the digital “walk”, a 3D model (or videos, series of pictures) of the selected route is presented to a certain number of participants at the same time. Or, participants can watch the video and pictures, or explore the 3D model individually by themselves. Participants can decide whenever and wherever they want to stop and record the required information. The information should be linked to the location on a digital map.

After the Walk

The tour ends with a discussion. The route is handled place by place; everyone presents their positive and negative observations, and can leave comments to others’. The discussion should be archived and compiled. It would be desirable to be able to check afterwards who said what, not necessarily on an individual detail information, but at least stating the age, gender, professional/layman, etc. Usually the topics that came up in the discussion are recorded on a digital flip chart.

What are the outcomes

  • New ideas of improvement for the area
  • Better understanding of the area
  • A more united community

Skills required

Skills required form participants: basic, average

  • basic software operation skills to explore in the 3D model
  • time for following dialogue in the discussion after the “walk”

Resources needed

Resources: high

  • money and experts to build the 3D model or take videos/photographs of the area
  • knowledge to select a proper route and suitable details

Strengths and weaknesses

  • Be on spot while not physically on spot
  • Facilitate different perspectives and their interaction
  • The possibility of a direct dialogue between planners and residents
  • The opportunity to ask additional questions and clarifications during the discussion
  • Does not have to reserve the same time for every participant, and participants can participate whenever and wherever they want
  • Different information can be digitally attached to the route
  • All age groups can participate
  • Everyone’s voice is heard if the discussion is conducted properly
  • Comments and discussions are easily recorded and documented in digital form
  • The possibility to be manipulated by selection of route and details to show on the 3D model, videos, and photographs
  • Participants can only observe and evaluate the area through sight, hearing, and their memories, without other senses such as olfactory, hapitic, and kinetic experience
  • The gap between reality and the 3D model. Details will be washed away during the digitalisation process
  • 3D model and videos are usually made based on the scene of daytime, so round-the-clock issues and seasonal issues may be neglected

Use cases

Kapfenberg, Austira

A group of researchers in Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) used a digital version of a redesign project of the local railway station to investigate urban development.  Traffic flows of different types of road users were simulated in the virtual environment. Participants explored the virtual enviroment using VR device.[1]

Try one of these tools & resources

  1. [1] Schrom-Feiertag, H., Stubenschrott, M., Regal, G., Matyus, T., & Seer, S. (2020, May). An interactive and responsive virtual reality environment for participatory urban planning. In Proceedings of the Symposium on Simulation for Architecture and Urban Design SimAUD (pp. 119-125).