The VR University Campus in Lincoln

Would you visit a university in virtual reality?
21 May 2020

Interview with 

Dr Chris Headleand, University of Lincoln




Dr Chris Headleand from the University of Lincoln has created a virtual version of the Brayford Campus at the University of Lincoln. Chris Berrow found out why...

Dr Chris Headleand - So this all started really as a, we were trying to create a, like a virtual meeting room space and because we wanted to use this for university research projects and even actually embedding some light research experimentation in there, we try to base it off a university building. Literally just as we got to the point where we were starting this project, we noticed that, uh, there was a lot of stuff coming up on Twitter about people missing being on campus because of lockedown had just kicked in. And university is a weird engagement, right? It's you, you move there, it becomes your home, it becomes a big part of your life. And suddenly all these people have been told that they basically couldn't socialise with their friends, couldn't, you know, mingle with their kind of extended family and university's a lot more than its buildings. It's a lot more than its campus. It's a community. It is, it's the research. It's the ethos of the environment. The buildings are really closely linked to a lot of those memories as well.

Chris B - You know, you can get bogged down in doing every single meter of every single corner and then making sure that the walls are round here instead of there being a straight line. How kind of liberal were you when it came to the actual designing of the campus?

Dr Chris H - We want to make sure that all the buildings were actually recognisable as the building they were supposed to be. We bought this a, this pack of prefab assets, um, because we're not afraid of modelers and we were trying to cut corners wherever we possibly could. And if all of these prefab sheets had like five windows where the actual building on site had at six. But if you learn to navigate this, you can also navigate in the campus, you can get a sense of where you are. Everyone has their favorite bit of campus, you know, and if we try to do things to accurately, you know, things change quite often. We're quite dynamic. We're quite an agile university and I literally just couldn't keep an up to date with the minor tweaks that we make as we go along.

Chris B - The one question that my wife who actually went to the university said I had to ask you was, did you include the swans? Because swans are such, apparently a huge part of going to Lincoln University.

Dr Chris H - Yeah. We are super into our waterfowl at Lincoln. Um, we, everything is Swan something, you know, our, our bar is the Swan. I couldn't find anything that matched the rest of our assets. And I thought, this is just not the work now, fortunately. So it couldn't get out and found in version one or surely one of my colleagues from the, uh, the school of media, uh, grand Cooper, um, as it created this absolutely fantastic. Swaggering Swan. It's straw swaggers it's got this kind of like funky attack mode and we, we try and we're actually working on this, uh, last weekend. We're hoping he's going to go out there in the next update.



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