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Arup’s high tech immersive VR space lets designers ‘step inside’ their work collaboratively

Words:
Stephen Cousins

Collaborative facility enables designers share digital models of projects with accurate perspective, depth of field, and immersive sound without the need for cumbersome VR headsets

The ExperienceLab was developed by Arup to enable project teams to see, adapt and enhance plans collaboratively without the need for “isolating” VR headsets
The ExperienceLab was developed by Arup to enable project teams to see, adapt and enhance plans collaboratively without the need for “isolating” VR headsets

A highly realistic multisensory design space where project teams can see, adapt and enhance plans using innovative design tools has been launched by engineering consultancy Arup.

The ExperienceLab is located at the company’s headquarters at Fitzroy Street in London and features a 6m-wide curved screen designed to fill the users’ field of view. Special cable-free eyewear enables stereo head-tracked projection that responds to individuals’ movements, providing accurate depth of field and perspective.

  • A data visualisation function translates data into graphics on a digital model.
    A data visualisation function translates data into graphics on a digital model.
  • The six-metre wide curved screen and stereo head-tracked projection brings designs to life.
    The six-metre wide curved screen and stereo head-tracked projection brings designs to life.
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The facility features an immersive sound environment using 26 loudspeakers to recreate ‘everything from concert hall room acoustics to the sound of traffic’.

According to Arup, the space represents a collaborative step forward from viewing designs in isolating VR goggles. Ian Knowles, director of acoustic AV and theatre consulting at Arup says: ‘Immersive design tools are a fantastic innovation for our industry, allowing us to step into our designs, share the impacts with stakeholders and provide a platform for discussion and agreement.

‘Until now, this has been an individual task, with users closed off by VR headsets. Arup ExperienceLab changes this, keeping the immersive realism but allowing us to experience and talk through decisions together.’

The ExperienceLab enables designers and planners to experience individual building projects, city masterplans and environmental projects. A data visualisation function overlays 3D models with graphical representations to give an indication of how a project will affect a surrounding area, for example mapping potential changes to vehicle movements. 

Masterplanners can use this tool to display complex environmental data, such as visualising the impact of a proposal on noise or air pollution or the use of a space as an alternative to reading complex data.

 

 

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