30 Nov 23

Designers harness virtual reality prototyping to design Deloitte’s Adelaide workplace

Woods Bagot Principal and Adelaide Studio Chair Rosina Di Maria, Associate and interior designer Bonnie Hamilton hosting digital workplace walkthrough for Deloitte.

Emergent technologies are creating opportunities to streamline design delivery processes and remove ambiguity from unbuilt projects. Woods Bagot, ERA-co and Deloitte have harnessed immersive digital technology and applied it to the workplace to optimise the design delivery process on the consulting giant’s new Adelaide headquarters.

The Igloo Vision software is one of the leading providers of immersive technologies, helping to increase collaboration and expedite strategic decision-making for businesses through digital design tools.

Designed to improve productivity and project innovation, the immersive technology and hardware comprises a bespoke room encapsulated by a 360-degree vision field, featuring calibrated projections and highly responsive ‘phygital’ functions designed to offer the user a one-to-one immersive experience, similar to virtual reality.  

Deloitte’s Adelaide office is in the process of relocating to Walker Corporation’s Festival Tower development, in the heart of the innovation precinct along Adelaide’s North Terrace, with the new workplace set to be home to Deloitte’s first Australian Centre for Innovation and Technology.

“Deloitte Adelaide is at the forefront of South Australia’s technology landscape, with the team driving innovation in cyber, AI, space, defence, and renewables,” says Rodney Murphy, Deloitte Associate Director for Infrastructure and Project Solutions. “It’s fitting that we are relocating to the new innovation precinct.”

Deloitte first installed the immersive technology in its Sydney CBD office in 2023, “to support solutions in architecture, engineering and construction,” explains Murphy. “We use it with clients to foster deeper levels of stakeholder engagement and enhance collaboration, leading to faster decision-making, more efficient projects, and reduced risk profiles in delivery.”

Woods Bagot designers facilitating a digital walkthrough of the Deloitte Adelaide Headquarters for key Deloitte personnel.

In the design of the Adelaide headquarters, ‘innovation’ provided the conceptual framework for the new office design, with objects like the hills hoist and wine cask – two products of South Australian invention – informing the design brief.

“We looked at South Australian pioneers of invention and created a series of design pillars for the project that referenced those stories and details,” says Woods Bagot associate and project leader Bonnie Hamilton. “The first female astronaut in the nation is the director of the Australian Space Agency, located here within the innovation precinct. Adelaide also had the first dedicated art centre (Festival Centre) in the country.

“Objects like the hills hoist and wine cask, both South Australian inventions, are referenced for their functionality and lasting design rigor to the more conceptual take on the thriving South Australian arts and space scenes. These pioneers, products and achievements have been worked into both the visual and conceptual design narrative of the Adelaide workspace.”

To execute the project, the design team at Woods Bagot is harnessing Deloitte’s technology in the design development process, substituting renders and conventional design reports for the immersive digital technology.   

“In the place of a DD report – which is a fundamental part of the traditional interior design process – we’re now doing it all digitally through the Deloitte’s immersive technology and walkthroughs,” says Hamilton. “The idea is to eliminate the traditional design report and leverage our access to new technologies to provide the client with greater clarity at the end of the design phase.”  

Working with global place consultancy ERA-co, the placemaking team built a highly detailed digital model reproducing every nook and cranny of the Woods Bagot design.

“We harnessed real-time technology and built an immersive, detailed and accurate digital model using Unreal Engine,” says Tarran Kundi, Principal and Global Director at ERA-co.

“Using these digital tools, we were able to build a pipeline that supported the Woods Bagot team to obtain the necessary approvals for their design while providing a fluid, believable visual experience for the Deloitte partners. What we’ve built – and the industry tagline for it – is a ‘digital twin’,” says Kundi.  

ERA-co took the raw building blocks of the Building Information Model (BIM) and built these into the digital twin to make it appear to be made up of the proposed assets. “Because it’s being driven through a game engine, the output is essentially like a video that’s then projected on all the screens around you, so it feels like you’re in the space,” says Kundi.

“This process removes any of the guesswork; the design team can scrutinise the space more holistically where it can be difficult in a static render to see everything in one frame,” says Kundi. The ability to quickly prototype and iterate designs also accelerates the lead time on approval processes, while the immersive nature of the virtual walkthrough increases the guarantee of customer satisfaction.

The Woods Bagot and ERA teams recently facilitated a virtual walkthrough of the Adelaide office for Deloitte stakeholders in their Sydney Igloo Vision facility, which Murphy said helped clearly communicate the design intent in a more accessible language than diagrams and static renders. The technology enabled the design team to make better, more informed decisions faster through a visceral and relatable medium that could be understood by all relevant parties.

“It exceeded our expectations in terms of helping the right people to understand what they were looking at, and radically reduced the time it took for signoff,” says Murphy. “In facilitating a one-day lab experience, we were able to achieve in one session what can often take weeks using traditional approaches.

“The design team has gone away and addressed the brief through a series of iterative process and design reviews. Using the technology, we can iterate multiple different design ideas for the best possible outcome and articulate exactly how the design meets the project requirements. Beyond design, it will greatly reduce construction costs by eliminating unnecessary changes late in the process.”


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Isla Sutherland
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