VIRTUAL REALITY NEURON POD

Draw & Code have created a stunning virtual reality model of the daring Will Alsop-designed Neuron Pod that is due to be built at Queen Mary University.

Brief:

The visionary architect Will Alsop has crafted a stunning design for Queen Mary University of London’s proposed extension to the Centre of the Cell education centre. Known as the Neuron Pod, this will be an incredible architectural representation of the neuron. In an effort to help stakeholders understand what such a ground-breaking design will feel like in reality, the immersive technology experts at Draw & Code were called upon to create a visualisation of the Neuron Pod that allows visitors to tour the building long before it leaves the drawing board.

In spring 2015 Draw & Code traveled to the proposed site of the Neuron Pod for an event that celebrated five years of the Centre of the Cell and also looked forward to what the rest of the decade may hold. Here we showed stakeholders, the architects and potential funders around this amazing building on a Samsung Gear VR headset.

Process:

All Design, the architects behind the project, sent through CAD files of the Neuron Pod to our 3D artist Emily. She worked worked on textures, making sure that the 3D environment around it was suitable for use on the Samsung Galaxy smartphone that powers the Gear VR unit. We chose the Samsung Gear VR for this project as it is wireless, allowing the user the freedom of movement needed to create a truly compelling virtual reality experience. As architectural models typically feature a lot of polygons, Emily had to simplify the model wherever possible without losing the essence of the original.

The model was then transferred to Unity, the gaming engine providing the power behind all our virtual reality architecture experiences. This is also where shadows, lighting, reflections and more effects were added.

Result

Just about every visitor and staff member at the event tried the virtual reality experience and they all loved it. For us it felt surreal to finally be in the location where the Neuron Pod will be built, having got to know the area so well in VR. The Centre of the Cell team are now using the event as a springboard to secure the final £900,000 of funding needed to complete the Neuron Pod and to give this world class educational facility a fittingly bold and sophisticated new venue to engage the scientists of tomorrow with their fantastic work.


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