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Tuesday, March 27 • 9:00am - 1:15pm
6 - Reconstructing Victorian Newcastle through Augmented Reality and Mobile Technology

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For 215 years of its existence the city of Newcastle in Australia has had a diverse history. Its architecture reflects its booms and declines. There are three distinct periods in the city: the convict city; the Victorian city and the modernisation of the 1950s and 1960s. Nothing remains of the convict city. The Victoria city was Newcastle's heyday. However, although there are some significant buildings that still remaining in the city many more have been altered or demolished in the move to modernise the city in the 1950 and 1960s. This paper presents the first stage of a project that would reconstruct central Victorian Newcastle using Augmented Reality (AR) and mobile technology. AR is a technology that can insert digital information into the designers' physical environment. AR appears in literature usually in conjunction with virtual reality, which is an environment where the digital information generated by a computer is inserted into the user's view of a real world scene (Azuma 1997; Barfield and Caudell 2001). AR can create an immersive augmented environment by inserting digital content into the physical space where people work or live. AR has had a relatively slow transition into the Architecture, Engineering and Construction sector (Wang, Gu & Marchant, 2008; Wang, & Dunston, 2005) but do include applications in interior design, urban design and planning, mechanical design detailing, and collaborative design. AR technology is envisioned to improve current state-of-the-art of design visualization, review and collaboration. The latest AR applications have combined with mobile technology such as the use of iPhone and iPad as the interfaces, enabling the more flexible and immediate access to the technology and digital information. Although there is copious amount of photographs of the Victorian buildings of Newcastle they are held in various collections and they are viewed as individual pieces rather than a collective whole. There has been the excellent photography book on Newcastle (Turner, 1997); however, their presentation is limited by their static nature and the information they can contain is limited within that 2D format.The combination of AR and mobile technology has the capability of presenting a holist presentation of a building. In 2009, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research developed an AR application. Through an iPhone it allows the user to take photographs of the Brandenburg Gate or the Reichstage these photographs integrate with the software. The software blends corresponding historical photographs over the original photo from the iPhone. It recognizes these two buildings from any perspective and an image covers the original photo with a corresponding perspective of the historic building. Our project applies this existing application to recreate the Victorian City of Newcastle to bring alive the history of the city. It will enhance the existing application going beyond 2D images to create 3D models of the individual buildings and the cityscape. This approach is in its infancy but it has the potential to be developed into a powerful tool for academic research into architectural history and archaeology in reconstructions of lost cityscapes.


Ning Gu

School of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Newcastle, Australia

Tuesday March 27, 2012 9:00am - 1:15pm BST
Building 65, 1145 Streamed into room 1157

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