A Device for Understanding and Anticipating our Cities’ Architecture
par Elsa Sidawy | 04.24.10
SARA shakes up the past and challenges the future. This application, developed by the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI), has been touted as the world’s first to virtually penetrate the heart of buildings. SARA “allows one to comprehend the architectural environment of a place, its history, its present and its future”, says Ferry Piekart, one of the leaders of the NAI project.
But SARA needs its accomplice Layar to work. This new generation virtual platform, developed by a Dutch start-up, allows all owners of smartphones to obtain an augmented reality of everything that surrounds him or her. “Layar is a search engine that shows a reality by completing the value-added content,” says Ferry Piekart. For this, the smartphone uses the GPS signal, its camera and digital compass to identify the position of the user and give access to data, which is superimposed in real time on the screen of the device. Other applications running on this principle have already appeared on the market, such as service Mobilizy in Austria, which offers practical information about the immediate environment.
Primarily for the curious
The Market Hall in Rotterdam, currently under construction, is the first building to have been modeled. Today, “all buildings are not accessible. At this point, we’ve entered the information of 350 buildings in the city of Rotterdam, through the archives of the NAI and the Municipal Archives of Rotterdam,” said Ferry Piekart.
SARA is probably not an application that will be used daily, but rather a tool to discover the architectural heritage of a city, “Just point your smartphone in the direction of a building and it will appear on the screen, not just pictures and videos of this building, but also 3D modeling and many more details”, says Ferry Piekart.
The NAI will not stop here
From May 7, the software will be downloadable for free from the Apple Store and the Android Market. At the official launch, SARA’s founders said the Netherlands would be the first country in the world whose entire architecture will be accessible via smartphone.
For now, SARA is only a practical tool for the casually curious, but it could well become the first virtual tour guide to know all the architectural secrets of a city. “Many cities have already contacted us!” Ferry Piekart heartily disclosed. We can already imagine tourists pointing their phone to the Eiffel Tower, eager to enjoy the view without queuing, and Ground Zero, curious to know the site’s future architecture.
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Translated by Genny Cortinovis
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