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Students to showcase VR project

A team of information technology and construction students have been hard at work preparing a Virtual Reality (VR) building project ahead of next month’s Auckland Build Expo.

The project, called Virtual Reality of Sustainable Living Styles, has been a collaboration between students from the Bachelor of Construction, the New Zealand Diploma in Construction and the Graduate Diploma in Information Technology. IT lecturer Suhaimi Latif says it’s the first time such a collaboration has taken place.

Construction lecturer Don Samarasinghe says the project involved creating a virtual reality model of sustainable building features including earth building techniques, a rainwater harvesting tank, a dry toilet, solar panels, and a green wall.

The aim of the project is to promote sustainability in construction studies.

“We built our team working skills and communication skills in addition to the improved learnings on sustainable building features. We feel really proud and happy about the overall experience.”

The group’s finished product is a virtual tour of a sustainable house, that viewers can explore on their phones, laptops or tablets, or using a virtual reality headset.

The students began by looking at issues with modern New Zealand buildings including toxicity, lack of breathability, as well as the  high life cycle costs of concrete, steel framed, and timber framed buildings.

They researched sustainable building materials including rammed earth, cob, mud bricks, unfired bricks, and straw bales. They also visited buildings which use these sustainable materials.

The team’s objectives were to enhance the sustainability of New Zealand housing, promote sustainable living, increase their capabilities and showcase OPAIC at the Auckland Build Expo.

The expo at the ASB Showgrounds on November 8 and 9 promises to be New Zealand’s largest construction, architecture, facilities management, build and design expo.

It will include thousands of attendees, more than 200 exhibitors, 60 build partners and 90 senior speakers.

Dr Samarasinghe says VR models have been used in tertiary education to provide real-life experiences to learners. Often construction lecturers find it hard to engage in experiential learning activities, such as site visits, due to hectic schedules and health and safety risks.

“VR models can, therefore, be used as an alternative way of conducting virtual construction site visits, as part of an effective curriculum delivery process.”

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