VR in NZ wsp opus Virtual Reality

19 November 2018 Chloe Brigden

On the back of last week’s VR for Future-Ready Infrastructure blog post, we caught up with the Managing Director of digital creative agency, Method Studios, Sam Ramlu and WSP Opus’ Mechanical Design Draftsperson, Andrew Eaton to discuss the reality of designing digital cities.

Leaders in all things digital -the Method team developed New Zealand’s first portable VR experience in 2015.

Sam and her team designed a VR-led marketing campaign for Unitec that showcased the campus’ hands-on learning approach. Other renowned projects includes, Auckland’s Museum’s– The Secret Life of Butterflies, Contact Energy’s – Smart Home Tour and Wynard Quarters -  Panuku Development.

Earlier this year, Method and the WSP Opus marketing team collaborated on a NZ-first VR venture. The objective; to encourage further thinking into what is needed to achieve sustainable urban planning.

Pairing problem-solving-themed gamification with storytelling, WSP Opus and Method developed Sustain-a-City; a VR take on Sims City ft. Tetris.

The game provides players with virtual tools to build their own-smart city. To score, players must choose the correct infrastructural components to sustain their city.  Elements such as water, power, buildings and commercial foundations are provided and need to be placed in a certain sequence.

Sustain-a-City is the first NZ example to use gamification to showcase the possibilities of urban-planning.

“It’s traditional to deploy VR to meet one objective – previously we have seen it used for walkthroughs or hazard identifications (in the engineering industry) – but not specifically both and especially not gaming.  In addition to offering a gaming experience, Sustain-a-City also showcases WSP Opus’ prominent urban projects and sustainability principles” – Sam says.

How did the Method team prepare themselves for multi-driven objectives?

“We had previously created an online interactive 3D story and dashboard for the Wynyard Quarter – Though this didn’t incorporate gamification, we were still able to contribute some of the learnings to the elements of Sustain-a-City.”

Andrew believes that VR and AR tools are becoming a new reality for today’s engineers. “WSP Opus have been using VR for design and coordination planning for the past 3-5 years.  Our work for the NZ Defence Force; developing a 3D model of the Whenaupai gym, is probably our biggest, and most advanced VR project to date.” 

“We can export any project developed in 3D into VR and can be a relatively quick process. We  use it to review “Building model milestones” and look for and clashes or inconsistencies with our shared models. It allows us to take snapshots of problematic areas to discuss with the wider team” – says Andrew.

“Sustain-a-City has great potential of being used internationally by WSP Opus to both showcase projects and emphasise core values surrounding sustainability and the future of urban design. Anyone, from other companies in the industry to graduates to kids and the general public wanting high-level, engaging information on how a sustainable city comes together can gain benefits from this ready-to-use VR game. I’d love to see it as an educational tool that can be downloaded for kids to use as part of their education” – Sam