Space, Time and Streets in the Sky

Project partners: HumanVR and University of York

Sheffield-based HumanVR, creates immersive, digital experiences and explores new paths for communication and creative expression. They form part of creative agency, Humanstudio, who develop interactive projects for artists, institutions and global brands.

HumanVR collaborated with the University of York to explore the potential for enabling audiences to experience the spatial presence of a location through an immersive VR storytelling project, Space, Time and Streets in the Sky.

The Space, Time and Streets in the Sky VR experience was based on Sheffield Theatres’ production ‘Standing at the Sky’s Edge’. The goal of the XR Stories funded project was to give remote audiences an experience of the production’s setting – Sheffield’s Park Hill housing estate – Europe’s largest listed building.

The sense of ‘spatial presence’ generated by VR, 360-degree views of the iconic estate and audio stories of Park Hill residents were created to experience through VR headsets with headphones. With the onset of the pandemic, this was replaced with audiences being able to view and experience the content on online platforms such as YouTube as a 360-degree video. The project team ensured that the content created was still focused on being able to tell and share the stories of a community and bring people together during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and restrictions.

During the research phase, Professor Dawn Hadley at the University of York, conducted interviews with many of the residents of the estate to gain an understanding of how the personality of the location could be shared through VR. Nick Bax from HumanVR and Professor Hadley had previously collaborated on similar R&D projects, allowing research data on Park Hill housing estate to be considered in this project too.

Through the project, HumanVR has identified that the Space, Time and Streets in the Sky VR experience could open up the possibility to experience any location using immersive technology.

Nick Bax, creative director, and industry partner on this project, says:

“Through our XR Stories funded project Space, Time and Streets in the Sky, we have been able to demonstrate the potential to create an immersive experience through spatial presence and personal narratives. Furthermore, we have found that the restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have rapidly increased interest in ‘non-physical’ virtual experiences.

Since the inception of our project, we have been approached by cultural organisations, science-technology companies and heritage groups which has resulted in further funding and commissions. It has also demonstrated to entertainment-based cultural organisations the potential for immersive storytelling to enhance their core offer.”

Categories: Arts, Performance, Technology