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Virtual reality brings to life again the former public toilets in the Octagon, Dunedin.

Closed in 1989, the Octagon's underground toilets were modern in design and aesthetics when they were built more than a hundred years ago. They were designed with electric lighting and ventilation systems, penny in the slot payment systems and wall to ceiling tiles. They had to withstand traffic loads and be completely water and leak proof. Now the Dunedin City Council is exploring ways to make its heritage more accessible. 

Alison Breese, Digital Archivist at the Council, worked with our Architectural Studies lecturers, Blair Isbister and the late Michael Findlay, to produce a 3D model of the public toilets using the original floor plan from the archives. They wanted to make this model interactive so that people could walk around and see what everything used to look like through a virtual reality tour.  

Information Technology student Mitchell Briggs has achieved just that. He began by familiarising himself with the Unity software that worked with the Daydream headset and controller. The next stage was building the model in virtual reality, after which he added colours and textures, and then more interactive features. As well as being able to walk around inside the men's and women's toilets, a user can open doors, turn on taps, and hover over information points to learn more. The Council hopes to develop an augmented reality app for mobile phones in the future.

Image credit: Mitchell Briggs, used with permission

August 2019