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Frank Lloyd Wright Architectual Visualisation in Half Life

In a follow up to our previous post on City 17, the fictional location for Half Life, we now take a first look at using the game engine for Architectural Visualisation. A Half Life user known as Kasperg has produced a model of the Kaufmann House by Frank Lloyd Wright in the Half Life Source Engine.

Using the Source Engine, as opposed to more traditional Architectural Software, allows the use of dynamic lighting and a real-time walkthrough of the scene in high resolution. The movie demonstrates the quality of Half Life for visualisation using both a standard walkthrough and half way through a fly-through using the Half Life 'Noclip' option.

*Update - see our Game Engines thread for visualising Architecture in Oblivion*

A higher resolution version of the movie can be download from here (wmv 57Mb).

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  1. Anonymous8:35 AM

    That's brilliant. I kept expecting someone to jump out and start shooting, though.

  2. Anonymous11:52 AM

    I was having a comment with a workmate about this exact thing the other day. Absolutely brilliant!

    Im def going to have to look into using this for some of my clients!

  3. Anonymous2:18 PM

    If anyone runs with this let me know :) it would be good to get a tutorial up with a work flow (?).. I'm half way through getting some models to work at the moment, hopefully some movies will follow in the week..


  4. Anonymous11:34 PM

    great, it's like a serial killer house!!! poor frank!

  5. Thats amazing!!!
    Im Architect too, and that perfect, im from brazil, im going to post on my blog in portuguese the link ok?

    thanks so much for this!!!

  6. Anonymous6:30 PM


    Thanks for the message, sure feel free to post it on your blog :)


  7. Great googly moogly that's amazing!

  8. Anonymous10:26 AM

    I study at Melbourne Uni (Australia), and there one lecturer runs a class where he gets the students to build their designs in the Unreal Engine (didn't get a chance to take that class).

    I always thought the HL2 engine would be far better suited.

    A 'for dummies' tutorial for us uninformed would be fantastic. Other tutorials online presume a lot of previous knowledge with map making, HL2 and especially with the 'hammer' editor.


  9. The modelling looks awesome but the lighting is very dark so the place looks scarier than necessary. :) Good job!

  10. Anonymous3:59 PM

    A 'for dummies' tutorial should follow as soon as we have got passed the last hurdle (ie its still not working!).

    Fingers crossed with a bit more coffee we will get there...


  11. There are all sorts of beginners' tutorials at the Valve Developer Community. :-)

  12. Anonymous7:14 PM

    Just thought I'd say this, it turns out that video games can do just as much good as supposed bad.

  13. Holy crap that is so cool!!! How did you do it...*SIGH* I wish I could run Half-Life 2...

  14. Anonymous6:58 AM

    I won't go into extensive detail, but if you record a 'demo' (see many other sites on how to do this) and then use the 'smoother tools' ( ) you can create much smoother and more professional looking fly-bys. You may have noticed that the noclip period was kind of jerky and that's because that's the user trying to get certain camera angles right. You can fine tune these but avoid the jerkiness with the smoother tools.

  15. Anonymous5:42 PM

    I've visited Falling Waters and that was just remarkable- brought back all those memories very vividly. I remember that room with the yellow chair- the room for the Kauffman's kid, I think.

    So... what would need to happen to get a deathmatch going on in there?

  16. Anonymous7:54 AM

    pretty good,
    i teach in an architecture school in adelaide, australia. we've been doing work in the unreal tournament 2004 engine for a couple of years. the half-life 2 engine is better for shading and dynamic lighting, but the unreal editor is far more easy for students to learn.

    next gen unreal should match it, but we'll see. adam in melbourne, that class was with jules maloney?

  17. That is quite a nice project. Although it should be stated as built in Half-Life 2.

    When I worked for an architectural company several years ago as a visualization artist I built 2 complete site projects within the original Half-Life using the QuArK game editor (and 3ds Viz). It proved very useful for the client to see their project in it's intended setting and to be able to open doors, turn on lights and machines, etc.

    That engine wasn't nearly as visually inspiring as the Source engine. It also took longer to buid and wasn't as detailed because of the limitations in model size presented by the engines inability to handle large scenes.

  18. Amazing work, would love to see a fps map of the whole world like this, but is it just me or is the highres version flipped and upside down? still awesome though

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  21. Anonymous9:35 AM

    Some genius made that map into a DM server...
    Played like crap...
    Spawn points got you stuck in the floor or walls and the indoor environments got too cramped and corner-ey...
    Good for looking, but not touching...

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  24. Anonymous7:00 AM

    how long did this take??

  25. Anonymous1:13 AM

    Hello, this seems like an months old forum so I don't know if anybody gets to read this or if I might visit this again soon. I am an architect too by the way. If it helps, I have figured out how to do almost all mapping on Autocad for export into 3ds Max where a hammer export plugin is used before getting it into Hammer. Autocad's snaps is unmatched by any software and the lighting leaks in the Source engine is reliant on precision. Hammer requires objects be constructed to the exact units but not with Autocad. The Source engine by the way is also more superior than the Unreal engine simply because Valve has pushed for the Radiosity Simulation lighting which none of the others uses. The lighting is more natural without creating extra lights or tuning everything to fake realism. The Source engine is also modular meaning that if you develop skills using it, the engine won't be phased out anytime soon. They keep adding to it and enhancing it so it's basically the same thing only better each time. It runs on all average computer systems with the best visual output at the lowest settings.

  26. Anonymous7:13 AM

    Hi I am not an architect but my brother is i just play games but for counter strike source that would be an amazing map and it would be awesome if u released that to the public.

  27. Anonymous4:52 PM

    truly amazing, I specially like the spacial-sound relationship you can feel which can't be felt with the traditional modeling methods (at least no as dynamically), congratulations!

  28. Very cool. I wonder how it plays as a deathmatch map? ;)

  29. Excellent Job!.

    One thing I wish Youtube had is a "Brightness Slider", on my old monitor it was kinda dark.

  30. Anonymous11:17 AM

    Amazing work, would love to see a fps map of the whole world like this, but is it just me or is the highres version flipped and upside down? still awesome though

  31. Anonymous8:53 AM

    wow thats amazing. i teach a few people the basics, the advanced, and the extras of valve hammer editor map making. and i was wondering if there was any possible way i might get a copy of that map to show them what they can do if they put the time and effort into something like this. but great work on that. i have heard that the new unreal tournament 2007 engine will have better graphics but you wont be able to do mapping like that in it how do you think this will affect design by HL2 engine?

    please email about acquiring a copy of that map at

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  44. Anonymous11:59 PM

    is there any way to get a copy of it and look arround my self not with the video