Reinventing the Classroom
The University of Wolverhampton, located west of Birmingham, England, extends its educational reach across the Midlands in central England. It started out as a tradesmen’s and mechanic’s institute in the early nineteenth century. It later merged with the Wolverhampton Free Library and the Municipal School of Art before growing into the large university it is today, attended by more than 21,000 students.
The university recently constructed a £120-million super-campus that features a new £45-million building for the School of Architecture and the Built Environment on a 12-acre site. Around 1,600 students utilise the building across a variety of disciplines, from architecture and construction to civil engineering and demolition. The building was formerly the site of a Victorian brewery and dates back to 1873. The university retained many historic aspects of the original architecture while building a state-of-the-art campus, connecting the old with the new. “It's a really incredible space,” says University of Wolverhampton Reader in Building Information Modelling (BIM) David Heesom. “There's a lot of history, a lot of stories to tell, so it's a perfect building for architecture students.”
Instructors took students to the site when it was under construction so they could see real-world examples of the things they were learning about in the classroom. It was a terrific opportunity—while construction lasted. Future students could review 2D photos of the building’s construction phases, but 3D visualisation is critical for understanding architectural concepts. The school wanted to find a way to permanently share the project with students.
Matterport provided the solution. Matterport makes it easy to capture and share an accurate and immersive digital twin, creating a new way for people to analyse, manage, and interact with the built world. Using a Matterport Pro2 camera, the university captured the property during six different stages of construction.
“Future architecture students who study in this historical building will be able to virtually walk through the major phases that we captured during its renovation using Matterport,” Heesom says. “They’ll be able to see the steelwork, the ventilation, the heating, and more. It's like a time machine.”
The Matterport scans delivered an additional benefit, too, one that nobody anticipated. “When the COVID-19 lockdowns hit,” says Paul Boden, Technical Resource Manager of the School of Architecture & Built Environment, “we realised we could use the Matterport walkthroughs for remote classes. And we could capture more of the campus and create tours for prospective students.”
Modern Facilities Management
The data captured by Matterport digital twins when the plumbing and electrical work were exposed during construction will also help facilities management and estate planning teams with future maintenance. “When the building was completed, the amount of documentation that came with it was just extraordinary, around 50 files that included 2D schematic drawings,” says Boden. “Now the estate team can also view the Matterport 3D files and virtually strip back the walls to more easily analyse the construction details.”
For instance, when new AV equipment needs to be installed in the future, technicians will know where they can safely drill to avoid puncturing compressed air lines, plumbing, electrical wires, and so on. And they’re augmenting the scans with Mattertags that include specifications, costs, and maintenance schedules. YouTube clips from suppliers are also being added to help with training and maintenance.
The facilities management team is already using the scans to prepare for the careful reopening of classrooms and labs during the final stages of the pandemic. Since Matterport cameras capture digital spatial measurements as well as imagery, the school is able to use those measurements to properly place desks and tables, maximising both safety and space.
Helping Local Businesses
In addition to serving its students, a good university should also serve its community, which is a mission that the University of Wolverhampton takes to heart.
One notable community partner the university is working with is the nearby Black Country Living Museum (BCLM), an open-air attraction in what was once the center of English coal country. BCLM preserves local heritage that would otherwise be at risk of being lost. Many of the museum’s historic buildings have been taken down and translocated from other areas of the Black Country to BCLM. Specialists painstakingly rebuild them onsite brick by brick.
With its many authentic historical buildings, the museum has become a regular filming location for the BBC crime-drama series “Peaky Blinders”.
The university is lending a hand to the museum with a joint research and development project exploring 3D visualisation and BIM technologies like Matterport that can make the historical reconstruction process more efficient and accurate. Scanning a building in 3D before it’s deconstructed provides the best possible guide for what it should look like when it’s rebuilt.
“Taking apart a building and reconstructing it in a new location is not a time-tested process,” says EnTRESS Project Manager Andrew Stott. “Derelict buildings are normally just demolished.”
EnTRESS, the university’s Environmental Technologies and Resource Efficiency Support Services program, is run by the Faculty of Science & Engineering and is funded in part by the European Regional Development Fund. It helps local small and medium-size businesses adopt environmental technologies and resource efficiency processes that improve energy efficiency, waste management, bioremediation, pollution control, and sustainability.
As part of its services, EnTRESS helps businesses secure approvals for renovation work, which was extremely challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic as local inspectors were not able to visit sites in person. By using Matterport cameras to scan buildings that needed renovation and by appending those scans with recommended changes, projects were able to continue. “Businesses managed to get renovation work approved thanks to those scans,” Stott says, “which was quite novel.”
The process is more efficient now too. EnTRESS partnered with TNM Architecture on a building in Wolverhampton’s city center. The Matterport camera greatly streamlined surveying, uploading, stitching, and reporting. Since much of that work is automated in the cloud, the number of work hours required dropped from 45 to 26, a reduction of 40 percent.
The university points to the affordability, accuracy, ease of use, and flexibility of Matterport technology to support the university, students, and the broader community with a variety of uses. “It’s money well spent from our perspective,” Stott says. “We’ve only ever heard positive feedback.”
ABOUT UNIVERSITY OF WOLVERHAMPTON
With education bases across the Midlands in the heart of England, the University of Wolverhampton was founded in 1827 as a vocational and general education institute for working men. Today its 16 co-educational schools and institutes serve over 21,000 students with campuses in Wolverhampton, Walsall, and Telford as well as education centres in Stafford and Burton, and a cyber security center in Herefordshire.
Wolverhampton, England, United Kingdom
Use cutting-edge 3D and BIM (Building Information Modelling) technologies to enhance student learning experiences and help the community with efficient and environmentally focused renovation and reconstruction work.
The University of Wolverhampton uses Matterport to capture buildings and spatial measurements and render them in immersive 3D so that university students, employees, and community organisations can learn to design, reconstruct, operate, and promote buildings more efficiently.
- Online campus tours for prospective students
- Better facilities maintenance
- Improved building reconstruction
- Faster renovation approval processes
- Virtual library of walkthroughs of past projects