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Network Rail uses AR technology to show passengers replacement footbridge designs

Posted: 24 October 2019 | | No comments yet

In a first for Network Rail, augmented reality (AR) is being used to help passengers visualise replacement footbridges at stations.

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Network Rail’s design data is being used in an app which passengers can access via their smartphones, helping them to visualise Network Rail’s delivery of replacement footbridges across Britain’s rail network throughout Control Period 6 (1 April 2019 – 31 March 2024) and beyond.

The app, called ARki, provides 3D visualisations of planned buildings in situ and uses cutting-edge AR technology to give Network Rail a new level of engagement with rail users.

Network Rail has developed three footbridge designs that blend forward-thinking architecture with creative engineering, bringing a new level of quality and a distinctive identity as the current, standard model is replaced in the years ahead. The three designs are:

  • The Beacon: a fully glazed bridge featuring lantern-topped lift towers and a dynamic articulated engineered structure
  • The Ribbon: an update of the classic arched footbridge with an elegant floating canopy spanning the track, featuring 30-degree lift and stair rotations
  • The Frame: a radical expression of minimalism that offers a range of flexible, functional configurations. Winner of the Network Rail and Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) footbridge design competition of 2018, this design by Gottlieb Paludan Architects of Denmark was judged best among 120 entries from 19 countries.

Anthony Dewar, professional head of buildings and architecture at Network Rail, said: “The app will give our customers a glimpse of their future station, using new technology to give a level of detail we’ve never provided before. As well as keeping local people informed of changes to their station, it provides a fitting, high-tech showcase for our exciting new footbridge designs. We’re very proud of the three new designs and want as many people as possible to be aware of and appreciate them – the app is the perfect way to showcase the footbridges to as large an audience as possible.”

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The Beacon: a fully glazed bridge featuring lantern-topped lift towers and a dynamic articulated engineered structure

The app integrates the architects’ design files into a smartphone’s video footage through ARKi.

Sahar Fikouhi, founder of interactive design studio Darf Design and developer of ARki, said: “Our vision is to allow designers to share their 3D models in the real world. It’s very rare for the public to have this access to genuine architects’ drawings and this is one of the first examples of one-to-one scale visualisations of future projects. The app is helping to democratise the way structures are designed and built by giving the public this access at early stages of design selection.”

Wood – a global leader in the delivery of project, engineering and technical services across the energy, industry, and the built environment – has taken on the role of technology integrator, building on their work with Network Rail and in stakeholder engagement.

Charles Humphries, Director – Built Environment at Wood, said: “Wood is proud to assist Network Rail in its mission of engaging the public during introduction of high quality design and engineering into its estate through this transparent process. The integration of such technologies for our clients helps keep all interested parties engaged. Having managed stakeholder engagement on a number of major infrastructure projects, we are fully aware of the importance of community involvement. Showing passengers what their bridge will look like is a great way of winning over the hearts and minds of rail users.”

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