This paper focuses on the design of high performance VR applications. These applications usually involve various I/O devices and complex simulations. A parallel architecture or grid infrastructure is required to provide the necessary I/O and processing capabilities. Developing such applications faces several difficulties, two important ones being software engineering and performance issues. We argue that application modularity is a key concept to help the developer handle the complexity of these applications. We discuss how various approaches borrowed from other existing works can be combined to significantly improve the modularity of VR applications. This led to the development of the FlowVR middleware that associates a data-flow model with a hierarchical component model. Different case studies are presented to discuss the benefits of the approach proposed.