materialising Sheffield - re-presenting the past  
steel ingots


Stage 1:
Looking at the evidence

Stage 2:
Planning the model

Stage 3:
Making the model

Stage 4:

Stage 5:
Collecting textures

Stage 6:
Rendering the model

Stage 7:
Adding 3d elements

Stage 8:
Adding animation

Stage 9:

Stage 10: Produce the final model



At present most archaeological and architectural projects which aim to reconstruct buildings and sites using digital media place an overwhelming emphasis on the final presentation of their models. As a result the developmental stages are rarely made available to the public and fellow researchers.

For these reconstructions to work as efficient mechanisms for true knowledge transfer any decisions which have been made during the design and construction stages of the project have to be made explicit.

The objective of this project is to house the process of creation within the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) to allow users to develop a fuller understanding of its creation and development over time.

In order to effectively provide the reasoning that leads from the ruins to a set of ground plans and elevations to the final reconstructed VR model, many types of rich media will be employed. These include the original CAD files, drawings, photographs, texts, images, streaming video, QT panoramas and 3D models at various stages of significant evolution.

The user will have the opportunity to trace the earlier scholarly work, the building phase represented in the model, the debates surrounding the reconstruction and the reasons why they were resolved in the way shown in the model.


The areas of Humanities research which can benefit from the implementation of virtual reality are those that require greater interactivity in the learning process. A well designed virtual environment should allow the users to regularly ask their own questions while analysing the associations between pieces of information, rather than just isolated facts. Therefore the issues of what information should be presented and in what way are essential.

Arguably any application of this technology can only be justified if the user is able to interact with the object in ways which would not previously have been possible either on site or via traditional print media. This alternative form of interaction should significantly alter the user’s relationship with the object.

The main advantage of using virtual reality as a medium for disseminating the information contained within the learning package is that it allows a wide range of users with differing levels of computer ability, multiple forms of access.

In order to realise the potential of Virtual Reality it is necessary to appreciate the power it provides over other visualisation tools:

  • The virtual environment promotes opportunities for the exploration, alteration and manipulation of complex data sets.
  • Virtual reality allows the user to compare and contrast objects from a variety of disparate sources within a unified environment.
  • Virtual reality can create a representation of the original context for objects and structures which have been removed from their context.
  • The virtual model implies an association of information with space. VR can recreate and reanimate culturally determined points of view which are essential for a more complete understanding of any structure’s meaning.
  • Virtual reality can provide a multiple point of view of the same object at different times or at different levels of conceptual analysis.
  • The virtual reconstruction can also provide answers to questions of the relevancy of data and highlight discrepancies or inconsistencies in existing data.







Sequence of 4 chronological development drawings

Movie: The evolution of the Attercliffe Works