XR Lab opens in UK college

XR Lab opens in UK college
West Suffolk College in the UK has opened its Extended Reality Lab (XR Lab), the facilities comprise of four distinct areas: an Immersion Lab, a Collaboration Theatre, a Green Room, and a Conference Room. The project was designed by architects WindsorPatania for Eastern Colleges Group.

The education environment integrates AI powered technology such as VR, AR and MR (Mixed Reality) to create a space that drives innovation in learning, education, and research.

The interiors are specified with advanced cameras and microphones that relay information to the other areas, creating a dynamic an all-encompassing interactive educational experience.

XR Lab’s Lecture Theatre boasts an array of features including wall-to-wall screens, rear screens to virtually host external guests, a motion capture system, immersive sound, video, and 62 VR headsets on the side walls. This space also provides a “tables set-up” which promotes a culture of teamwork among students, encouraging real-life interactions amongst the high-tech facilities in the space.

XR Lab is a retrofit of a building structure that was previously used as a workshop by engineering students.  Prior to the retrofitting, the building presented an outdated, light grey finish, and a large opening blocked by a roller shutter. Through extensive renovation efforts, the roller shutter was removed and replaced with a curtain wall to enhance the ingress of natural light into the hangar. The main benefit of this derived from the ability to contain thermal insulation solely to the size of the pod, making it the primary thermal envelope and thus avoiding the need to thermally insulate the entire space. Sustainable architectural lighting by PHOS was also integrated as part of the low-energy design.

The exterior is finished with a high-spec, sustainable luxury polished plaster by Armourcoat, resulting in an enigmatic sci-fi presence. 

“The architecture embodies the function of the building, creating a connection with virtual environments while inspiring the next generation of students.” explains Giovanni Patania, architect co-director of WindsorPatania.

By driving innovation across the College Group’s education programmes and enabling training and collaboration with businesses and organisations in the region, XR Lab opens the path for exceptional opportunities for the local community to engage with and benefit from its advanced technologies. 

“XR Lab is a catalyst for ground-breaking ideas, a place to bring students and industry together to explore new ways of working, teaching and learning” Richard Stevenson, group director of operations, Eastern Colleges Group.


all images: WindsorPatania

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