Visualising Wellington: Past, Present and Future


Visualising Wellington: Past, Present and Future was a partnership with the New Zealand National Library to exhibit their archives in an engaging and innovative way through new technologies including virtual reality, augmented reality and digital manufacture.

Focusing on the architecture of Wellington City’s Queens Wharf - three working concepts were manufactured around three main themes: history of the city, growth of the city and the unbuilt city. The concepts reinterpreted photographs, architectural drawings, interviews, publications and stories of the New Zealand National Library’s archive collection to be engaging, interactive and accessible to general public in the Libraries new exhibition space.


Visualising Wellington's Past    

The History of the City - Virtual Reality

This intervention allows viewers to view Queen’s Wharf in the 1900s era when the site was an industrial shipping port. 

We saw virtual reality as an opportunity to remove the exhibition from the walls of the library and present it in the physical environment where the archived material can be compared directly to the environment today. Opposed to creating a fully immersive experience we proposed that the VR goggles be mounted in a set of binoculars. This allows viewers to glimpse into a 1900s era virtual reality recreation, looking up to quickly compare with the same environment today.

This also provided an opportunity for passers by, an individuals who would never visit the National Library, to stubble upon the exhibition and experience the archives. 


Visualising Wellington's Present     

The Growth of the City - Augmented Reality

Through an augmented reality table we invited visitors to explore the growth of the city's shoreline and skyline. The exhibit contained three puzzle pieces representing Wellington’s three major land reclamation projects. As the visitor constructs the land reclamation puzzle, exploring the expansion of the land, a three dimensional representation of the city and buildings in the corresponding time period would be viewable on a tablet. This offered a unique way for viewers to explore three distinctive periods in the cities history and growth.

This concept was an exploration into combining the physical tactility of a puzzle with the digital immersion of augmented reality. 


Focusing on Wellington’s Queens Wharf, an area of high development and documentation, we were able to capture and recreate three distinct time periods with archived material. 




Satellite images and archive material were used to generate the puzzle and silhouettes of the buildings. The building silhouettes act as the target to initiate the AR and position the 3D model of the city in the environment. 


Visualising Wellington's Future    


The Unbuilt City - Digital Manufacture

Through digital manufacture we were able to rapidly visualize the unbuilt architecture, potential future and what the city could have been if rejected architectural projects had gone through.

Lampton Tower proposed in 1989 would have been the tallest building in Wellington City had it not been for the heavy objection from the people of Wellington.

Through floor plans, drawings and renders we recreated 3D models of rejected proposals that were so close to being reality. This 3D model could then be appropriated into multiple exhibits.

  • Through 3D printing we can construct architectural models.
  • Through augmented reality we can view the building in it’s proposed environment
  • Through virtual reality we can view the building from a first person perspective in it physical proposed environment. 


Project: National Library of New Zealand and Victoria University, 2016 (3 months) 
Collaborators: Alasdair Tarry (Architecture) & Stefan Peacock (Media Design)