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Keys to the City - augmented reality for cultural districts

It was extremely valuable to hear SNC- Lavalin Atkins' landscape architect, Neil Manthorpe, describe how augmented reality could be used at the Royal Arsenal Woolwich along with other emerging cultural quarters this month at our 11th Future Cities Forum.

'We have been looking at the potential for using augmented reality in our streets and spaces, and there was a competition run recently by the Corporation of London where we won the "Smarter Spaces" category with a concept called "Keys to the City" using an AR app to unlock the hidden layers of history, heritage and culture - and you could apply this to any city district. Taking the Elizabeth Frink sculpture of a shepherd in Paternoster Square, we designed the app to feature roaming sheep (below), and we also used this approach to illustrate the Roman amphitheatre with fighting gladiators below the Guild Hall.

.The app was designed to encourage people to look and experience spaces and parts of the city that they might not normally encounter. We hope that collaboration with other organisations could further inform and progress this - whether they are museums or businesses.'

Riverside regeneration was also discussed - as it applied to several of the councils present including Bexley, Greenwich and Newham. Neil commented that 'historically London has turned its back on the river, but now there is a huge opportunity being realised by local authorities, developers and designers to use the views and open up riverside space for recreation.

' The work we have done on the Thames Tideway tunnel is very important for improving the water quality and over the next 20 years we will see the big impact this has made on the ecology of the river and adjoining greenery along the banks. Our work in Kingston was not so much about the creation of new cycling lanes but more about the removing of barriers to enjoying the riverside for every part of the community.' Please listen to Neil on the panel below or being interviewed - above.

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