Experiencing (In)tangible Heritage at Western Beach

Deakin University's International Design & Innovation Platform

Experiencing (In)tangible Heritage through eXtended Reality (XR) – Case Study of Western Beach, Geelong Waterfront

In consulation with the Smart Cities Team at City of Greater Geelong DesignMind aims to explore new forms of cross-media story-telling and creation of new visitor experiences through immersive media in a cultural heritage context for the newly revitalised Waterfront Park (Western Beach Park) in Geelong, which draws on the area’s extensive industrial past, showcasing the remaining infrastructure and some historic original boats from the area.

Despite its very rich history, the physical assets present on the site are very limited, and all the information in the archives are either in text or image format, which do not provide adequate representation of the rich heritage of the site the City of Geelong aims to share with and convey to the visitors. We aim to explore the rich representational and experiential possibilities offered by immersive media and interactive story-telling, which could provide powerful narrative to tell the rich history of this site in connection with its tangible and nontangible heritage assets.

The proposed project is formulated as the introductory first stage of a two stage project. With this project, we aim to develop a number of ideas, concepts, story-boards and prototypes which would give a well-informed overview of what a future implementation of this project could look like and the value it would generate. Therefore, this first stage is formulated to include the following phases:

Phase 1: Archival research to understand better the historical context, to select samples of unique stories tied to the proposed theme, and create story-lines for different subthemes, and to construct sample narratives.

Phase 2: Development of a Concept Map and a story-board for scoping the project and to develop a strategy to bring the stories (of and about the site) to life and map those different stories with the most appropriate media. This will allow us to decide on the content we aim to convey for a crossmedia (including web, audial, spatial and immersive) experience, and to develop strategies to enhance the physical and digital experiences for a variety of on-site and off-site visitors.

Phase 3: Prototyping and proof of concept applications/installations with two types of media forms (AR or VR, and sensor activated audio). For the AR form, a mobile application will be prototyped for on-site visitors; alternatively, a VR application can be prototyped for an off-site digital experience. We will also explore the feasibility of developing and installing proximity based, and sensor activated audial devices, for on-site visitors. These explorations will allow us to create a better understanding of how different stories and different experiences could be inter-linked.