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14 August 2018 Kate Palmer

 Cutting-edge technology and industry expertise have combined to put the power of city design in the hands of everyday people with Sustain-a-city, an interactive, problem-solving virtual reality game.

Sustain-a-city has been developed by WSP Opus, global infrastructure and environments consultancy, and award-winning creative AR/VR studio M Theory.

Ian Blair, Managing Director of WSP Opus, says the game is about entertaining to educate by building a micro-world of the future.

“WSP Opus creates what matters for future generations and there is no better way of bringing this vision to life than by enabling people to create their own future world,” says Blair. “We wanted something that showcased our innovative and visionary thinking, and VR is the perfect platform.”

Sustain-a-city is the brainchild of Brent Condon, WSP Opus Marketing and Events Lead, who conceptualised and developed it before enlisting AR/VR innovations studio M Theory to bring the vision to life.

“We wanted to create an experience that gave our audience a small insight into the amazing work WSP Opus is doing. As in reality – it’s not easy balancing the infrastructure needed to create a resilient yet thriving city. The game is challenging yet lots of fun with everyone eager to have another go at perfecting their city. We’ve racked up a few hours ourselves and not all of them just in testing!” says Sam Ramlu, Managing Director of M Theory.


A symbotic future world

Sustain-a-city allows players to build a smart world of the future and help it grow and thrive to an optimum healthy size. Players must choose from a selection of infrastructure components which are then put into their miniature, simulated world - to a certain formula.

All four smart infrastructure components have to be used wisely and in unison, otherwise the overall health of the virtual world plummets.

“Just like a real city all the elements – power, water, residential and commercial buildings, and transport - need to work in balance in order to thrive. Sustain-a-cityis a simple and powerful demonstration of the work WSP Opus carries out at a micro level,” says Blair.

All the components are real-life WSP Opus projects including the Margaret Mahy Family Playground Park, the Justice Precinct and the Daldy Street and Halsey Street Redevelopment.

Harnessing VR’s potential

Condon says Sustain-a-city is a fun and interactive output for a technology WSP Opus already uses on projects.

“We create virtual 3D models of projects that allow clients and stakeholders to experience the layout of the building, the land and surrounding areas in a virtual environment. That means design elements can be modified or changed in real-time before they become a major consideration or cost during construction.”

WSP Opus will be previewing Sustain-a-city at free public Week of Engineering Expos in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch on Saturday 18 August.