Cutting-edge virtual reality model of the Square Mile launched


The most advanced, fully interactive virtual reality (VR) digital twin ever of a major city area has been launched today.

A collaboration between the City of London Corporation, Innovate UK, New London Architecture (NLA) and VU.CITY, it captures every building, lamp post, window and traffic light to 2cm accuracy across its 2.9 sq km geographical spread – a first in accuracy and detail over such a large area.

Alastair Moss, Chair of the Planning and Transportation Committee at the City of London Corporation, said: “Almost without exception, every decision made on a new building has been based on two dimensional images and videos. Now, for the first time this new technology will give us the opportunity to put buildings into a fully interactive virtual world and experience it at a human scale.

“Using the technology will not be a requirement of planning permissions but it is a tool that developers could opt to use to help realise what the plans offer in terms of space, enhancement of the public realm and to the City.

“Working in VR gives us, as Committee Members, the possibility to experience proposed change to the Square Mile before making the decisions that will forever change the future of the City.”

The ability to visualise the present and then conceive and plan the future in a VR environment is a ground-breaking transition in how cities across the world can be better and more easily developed.

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“A new day is dawning on the age of planning, designing and building our cities,” says Jason Hawthorne, Founding Director and Chief Digital Officer at VU.CITY. “This is the beginning of many highly advanced urban planning solutions.

“With a single click a virtual twin will show us, for example, what the next tower will look and feel like in seconds, enabling us to rapidly rethink or refine our approach to ensure any change proposed is suitable.

“We are on the cusp of great change with what virtual and digital twins can teach us, with the Square Mile leading the way.”

By supporting collaboration in a virtual space, the model ensures that all involved in the design and commissioning of buildings can review proposed changes together, share knowledge and ultimately come to more informed, meaningful decisions.

“Most people find it difficult to read architects’ plans and to understand the impact that their proposals might have” said Peter Murray, Chairman of New London Architecture.

“This new technology allows everybody to see what buildings will look like and how they will affect the City’s streets and its skyline. This is the ultimate in tools for community consultation.”

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