COMBINING VIRTUAL REALITY AND ACOUSTIC MODELLING TO CREATE AN IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE OF ANCIENT BUILDINGS: THE ODEON HERODES ATTICUS, GREECE

Chris Barlow, Eleni Tavelidou

Research output: Published contribution to conferencePoster

Abstract

The use of virtual reality (VR) in educational settings can be considered to be a natural evolution of educational technology or computer-assisted instruction (Pantelidis, 2009). Virtual Reality (VR) tools have now become low enough cost to be able to implement them in educational environments, offering the potential for large scale simulation without high expense. This has particular benefits for integrating an experiential elements to enhance aspects of learning – for instance by the use of virtual field trips to help students experience and explore locations which would be impractical to visit Tuthill and Klemm, 2002), or to enhance the experience and increase engagement with learning tasks (Lau and Lee, 2015).

A particular area of interest is the exploration of historic spaces and monuments, particularly those which have changed significantly over time through redesign or ruin, and the concept of ‘Virtual tourism’ is now well established. With the recent development of Virtual Reality technologies at an accessible cost which are capable of rendering 3D environments of high level of detail and accuracy, a realistic representation and navigation within historic monuments can be achieved. This remote real-world experience can serve educational purposes and enhance visitor experience in museums and historical exhibitions.

The main focus of these studies has been visual exploration, but in order to fully experience the space, other senses must be taken into account, and there has been a lack of development of olfactory, haptic and acoustic representations of spaces. While the olfactory and haptic elements are still difficult to create, the acoustic space is now possible to recreate through software modelling. This is particularly useful when exploring spaces where the acoustic properties form an important part of the function of the space – for instance in houses of worship, spaces designed for musical performance and theatres.

This study investigates the development of an educational virtual reality application, in which users are able to investigate the acoustics of an ancient Greek Odeon; the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in its historic configuration.

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus (hereafter Odeon HA) is located in Greece in the western part of the ancient Athenian city, Acropolis and it was built by Herodes Atticus, a rich Greek aristocrat and sophist, between 160-169 A.D. It was considered the highest building in the country and its capacity could accommodate up to 6000 people. Around 267 A.D. the Odeon burned down. The restoration of this ancient monument started taking place in 1950 but the final reconstruction did not include the roof or several other structural elements. As a theatre, it has been used mainly during the summer period (April to late September) for various events and performances since its reconstruction.

Recent investigations by Manolis Korres (2014) indicated the existence of a roof which covered the theatre in full. An architectural model was created of the suggested roofed structure, and an acoustic modelling software was used to predict the acoustic performance of the space both when empty and with an audience. The audio information was then integrated into a virtual reality model using the Unreal 4 engine and Steam Audio plugin, resulting in an experience which allows the user to virtually explore the space, including listening to how music performed on the stage would sound from different locations around the auditorium.

As sound is one of our most important senses with regards to the environment, the integration of accurate acoustic models with the VR environment was considered to be an important enhancement of the concept of the virtual field trip, which would allow for a wider range of discussion and educational experience, while improving the sense of realism of the space.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2019
Event International Conference on Information, Communication Technologies in Education, ICICTE 2019 - Chania, Chania, Crete, Greece
Duration: 4 Jul 20196 Jul 2019
http://www.icicte.org/about.html

Conference

Conference International Conference on Information, Communication Technologies in Education, ICICTE 2019
Abbreviated titleICICTE 2019
CountryGreece
CityChania, Crete
Period4/07/196/07/19
Internet address

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    Barlow, C., & Tavelidou, E. (2019). COMBINING VIRTUAL REALITY AND ACOUSTIC MODELLING TO CREATE AN IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE OF ANCIENT BUILDINGS: THE ODEON HERODES ATTICUS, GREECE. Poster session presented at International Conference on Information, Communication Technologies in Education, ICICTE 2019, Chania, Crete, Greece.