ATLAS - Weeks 1 & 2 at Oxford Brookes University - December 2017

Jan 5, 2018

ATLAS, by Marie G. Losseau and Yann Deval, is an experience that mixes augmented reality and virtual reality.

Spectators are invited to build virtual cities, using a « seed launcher ». Each launch will make an house grow.

The growing houses follows some urbanistic rules, they adapts to their environnement: cities in the cloud, uprooted cities, cities on stilts, flying cities...

These cities take on a life of their own, with or without the interactions of users, like living organisms...

The work consists of creating huge cities, for wandering and loose yourself.

To provoque a reflexion on the topics of urbanism, architecture, and their influence on our lifestyles.

And giving life to inanimate things...

Yann is working from December 2017 in artistic residency at Oxford Brookes University for six weeks. The goal is to create a prototype using the Microsoft Hololens headset, a mixed reality device allowing for the addition to reality of holograms reacting to their environment.

Xanadu, the ATLAS flying house appears for the first time

in the Hololens, in an office of the Wheatley Campus

(Oxford Brookes University)...

ATLAS will be presented as an exhibition and an experience using Hololens and HTC Vive headsets.

Microsoft Hololens

During the experience, visitors ‘sprout’ entire cities from seeds they sow.

We present here the first tests of city construction in mixed reality created during those first weeks of the residency.

First test of creating houses that are ‘conscious’ of their

environment. The white cursor marks the user aim.

The technical tests were conducted with three scanned houses. At the moment, we have manufactured 60 different houses that are waiting to be scanned in 3D and integrated.

The videos embedded in this article were captured directly from the Hololens, and are thus relatively faithful to what the user experiences in the headset.

Experimenting with gravity.

The first part of the residency was dedicated to familiarizing with the new medium. We experienced other Hololens projects, some of them created by WEKIT, the project that hosts the residency at Oxford Brookes University.

Collisions of the virtual with the real, physical environment.

No house was injured during these tests :)

After first contact with the medium, we had to re-think a lot of the concepts behind ATLAS, considering new possibilities provided by the Hololens, but considering its limitations, too.

For example, the experience is better with smaller houses, to fit the limited Field of View of the Hololens.

We also had to rethink the planned viewing distance to the user - the distance where the action takes place. We wanted close interaction with the holograms, but Microsoft recommends a minimum distance of 85cm to 100cm between the user and the hologram.

Using the Hololens was very inspiring, and gave us new exciting ideas (more to come on this blog!)

An ‘AirTap’ means to perform a ‘click’ gesture with thumb and index finger.

We plan to work on more intuitive gestures for the interaction with the environment.

Photographs of wooden houses used in the holographic tests.

ATLAS is about creating huge cities.

Rendering and computational performance can take a lot of

photogrammetric models in the same scene.

The biggest difficulty we encountered during the residency was related to tools.

Our regular language/framework (VVVV) not compatible with Hololens, we had to learn new tools (Unity and C#).

We get support from the Performance Augmentation Lab (PAL) at Oxford Brookes, so we’re confident we can master this.

This residency at PAL, the laboratory supervised by Dr. Fridolin Wild, will continue during January 2018.

On the menu for the next weeks: experimenting with interaction between holographic houses and real models, working on gesture recognition, composing spatialized generative music coming out of the houses...

First test of sowing seeds.



An experience by

Yann Deval & Marie G. Losseau

In collaboration with

WEKIT / Fridolin Wild (Oxford Brookes University) for the Mixed Reality part.

With the support of

VERTIGO STARTS program of the European Commission with IRCAM-Centre Pompidou and EPFL

Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles


Maison des Cultures et de la Cohésion Sociale de Molenbeek Saint-Jean


Wallonie-Bruxelles International

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VERTIGO is funded under the H2020 European STARTS initiative, innovation at the nexus of Science, Technology, and the ARTS. STARTS promotes the arts as catalysts for efficient conversion of science and technology knowledge into products, services, and processes.