Common Ground

VR City

Explore the notorious Aylesbury Estate, home to thousands of South Londoners, and the concrete monument to the history of social housing in the UK.

This is an immersive journey into the history and legacy of one of the most controversial housing estates in Britain: The Aylesbury Estate, in Walworth, South London.

Through the monolithic prism of its concrete blocks, this room-scale documentary will allow people to access the personal spaces of residents and interact with content and physical archives that will examine how design, planning, dreams of utopian living and the political will of the day has affected the ordinary people caught in its midst.

Utilising stereoscopic 360 video, photogrammetry, 3D modelling, depth kit, and archive, we will enter the world of the estate from its birth in the 1960’s, through its decline and up to its controversial regeneration today. This multifaceted documentary will question notions of community, examine the dis-enfranchisement and demonisation of the working class, and ask whether current housing policy today is destined to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Intended audience: The experience is intended for audiences interested in politics, housing and social justice, plus fans of documentary film and VR experiences. It will allow audiences to engage with and discover a historical, multi-layered documentary within an interactive room-scale environment.

The experience will be exhibited in a site-specific exhibition on the estate,  which will be co-curated by Aylesbury residents. It will then tour film festivals world wide, before being made available for download on VR stores.

Creator’s Statement

Common Ground is a multi-layered immersive journey into the history, politics and human face of the current crisis in the UK housing system. For me it is the technological and creative culmination of three years of work and development in VR; and the next step in immersive documentary storytelling. It is a work that utilises my passion for exploring social injustice, giving voice to those not usually heard, and building worlds of experience that connect us more closely to the lives of other people.

Technical summary

The experience will use photogrammetry and 3D modelling to create a room-scale environment in which users can explore the story of the Aylesbury Estate through interactive assets that act as portals into additional content. This content will be a mix of 360 film, archive video, soundscapes and physical assets that tell the complicated social, and political history of the estate.

Prototype platform: Oculus Rift

Final experience platform: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive

Distribution method: Location-based (physical)

Primary production type: Real-time rendered (game-engine based) experience

Team profile

Darren Emerson and the VR City team have been at the forefront of VR documentary since 2015 when they created Witness 360: 7/7 which was part of the IDFA Doclab selection in the same year and went on to tour festivals internationally.

In 2016 the same team won the first ever Sheffield Doc/Fest VR Commission for the 360 documentary “Indefinite” which went on to be featured as a New York Times Op-Ed.

The VR City team continues to make 360 and VR work for UK broadcasters, brands and institutions, including the Laphroaig Whiskey experience which was nominated for a Raindance Award.

Project team details:

Darren Emerson — Creator, Writer & Director

Conan Roberts — Post Production Supervisor

Ashley Cowan — Executive Producer

Past work:

2017, King of Infinite Space

2016, “Indefinite”

2015, “Witness 360: 7/7”

Profile video

Contributing organisations

VR City

StoryFutures Academy

Other Funded Projects

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