Virtual Somerset House set to go live

The Somerset House Trust has commissioned Turner Prize nominees Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell to create a 3D interactive Web-based version of the London arts venue.



The Somerset House Trust has commissioned Turner Prize nominees Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell to create a 3D interactive Web-based version of the London arts venue.



Members of the public, represented by avatars based on their initials, will be able to navigate through the house’s public rooms, attending past exhibitions and concerts. They will also be able to slip behind the scenes to see the museum’s private areas, including the kitchens.



Langlands and Bell are working with Irish design group Innovative Partners to create the website, which will feel like 3D virtual world sites like Second Life. Innovative Partners were appointed in April, having won the contract through a past project with Langlands and Bell. ‘We are doing a number of things with the website that are very innovative,’ says partner Julian Ellison. ‘Laser scanning a building and putting that into a digital streamable format is a completely new process. It is like Second Life but uses completely new technology, such as “see what I see” software, which allows to viewers to view exactly what each other is seeing.’



To create the website, Somerset House was first scanned with lasers and rendered as a 3D model. It was then converted into a streamable format suitable for the Internet and multi-user features were added, informed by Langlands and Bell.



The project, called Superactive i2i, is based on Langlands and Bell’s 2002 work The House of Osama bin Laden, which included an interactive digital model of bin Laden’s home in Daruntah.



The website will go live on 6 September.


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