Virtual tour takes UNSW exhibition 360 degrees, around the world

07 Sep 2020
image from Luminocity

The Luminocity exhibition showcases the UNSW Built Environment design experience from humble beginnings to the global stage.

A team at UNSW has developed a virtual 360-degree tour that blends reality to reimagine iconic locations around the world.

“It’s unlike anything you’ve seen before and was one of the most exciting Open Day experiences this year,” said exhibition co-curator and industrial designer from UNSW Built Environment Rina Bernabei.

“When people hear the words ‘virtual exhibition’, they might have quite a stagnant idea of what that is. But Luminocity is not just an online exhibition or a regular virtual tour, it is a truly immersive experience.”

The virtual tour takes visitors on an exploration of the design journey, beginning at the Red Centre Gallery at UNSW, before branching out to different locations across Sydney and the world, where student projects from across all UNSW Built Environment degrees solve urban challenges, from the room to the region.

“What we show is that from this one building on campus, our ideas and our students launch all over the world to have global impact, and we’re taking you on that tour,” Ms Bernabei said.

“You might be on the top of a skyscraper in the middle of the city, then you might be out on an amazing parkland. You’re going to all these amazing different environments, and you really get an understanding of the scale and the impact of these projects in-situ.”

Ms Bernabei worked night and day, alongside co-curator Dr Russell Lowe, and Virtual Reality (VR) developer and UNSW graduate James Hargrave, to bring the experience to life using the latest in VR technology.

Dr Lowe, architect and computational designer, described the exhibition itself as mixed reality. It uses advanced imaging and sensory technology to blend created virtual components with real-life elements to deliver an enhanced sensory experience.

“There are so many possibilities when it comes to mixed reality to do things that we could only imagine previously. You have one foot in the real world, and one foot in the imagined, but it is something that is going to open up a much broader and rich experience of life you control with your own hands,” he said.

Dr Lowe said COVID-19 is accelerating the timeline for virtual technologies and people will quickly realise the need for and benefits of  virtual exhibitions.

“You're able to do so many things without constraints, such as time, location, weather, or cost," he said.

“For us, it's hard for a physical exhibition to compete, and I can’t see us going back when we can have Luminocity every day and open it up to a much wider audience.”

Ms Bernabei said the range of student projects themselves has also been brought to life and enriched in new ways via this digital experience.

“Not only can you look at the models like an actual exhibition, but you can really interact with them, you can manoeuvre around the models from all angles, you can watch videos that explore the design process and much more,” she said.

“But I think perhaps the best aspect is that you’ll meet and get to know the talented students behind the work, and hear them speak about their projects and their experience in their own words.”

Dr Lowe said he hopes the exhibition will capture the imagination of future students.

“We want students to come to this exhibition, and not only see the fantastic work our students do, but see what UNSW is all about – leading the world in innovation like virtual reality and mixed reality, and making the best of situations,” he said.

The UNSW community is invited to view the exhibition via the UNSW Built Environment website