Architecture made interactive

Tuesday 24 Jan 2012

Mobile app by Ryerson researchers uncovers the architecture of Toronto

A collaboration between the Department of Architectural Science and the Library and Archives at Ryerson University, Toronto has resulted in a new app that aims to uncover the architectural landmarks of the city.

This app goes beyond a normal map or directory. Using geo-location data, users can use the free interactive mobile app to find the closest buildings. From there, they are able to embark on an architectural tour, learning about the history of the buildings through hi-res images, floor plans and more. "Not only do we get to see the building, by using augmented reality to geo-locate us we can also see historically what has been on that site," said Ryerson University Professor, Vincent Hui.

Toronto is Canada’s largest city, and a range of high-profile architects have designed buildings there including the likes of Norman Foster, Daniel Libeskind and I.M. Pei. Historical sites such as Union Station and Massey Hall are featured alongside modern buildings like Gehry’s Art Gallery of Ontario.

The app database is peer reviewed, and almost entirely complied by over 60 Ryerson students and recent graduates. Data from the Canadian Architect magazine archives has also been provided. Over 90 buildings are currently on the database.

The initial concept was devised by architectural science professor Vincent Hui in late 2010. Alongside Innovative Technologies Librarian Graham McCarthy and his team, the app was developed.

Hui and McMarthy continue to develop the app. The use of video and audio could become a possibility, as well as the involvement of more cities around the world. "Rather than picking up a guidebook a user could, for example, look up the London, England version of this app and walk into Trafalgar Square and see the history of the space, see video, listen to audio and see and learn so much more than what is there at that physical moment in time." Hui has mentioned pilots are to be carried out abroad in Seattle and Las Vegas.

The app is available now on Android, the Apple App Store and on the mobile web.

Dami Babalola

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