Arrowstreet was responsible for the programming, planning, design and sustainability plan for two distinct schools as part of the King Open/Cambridge Street Upper Schools and Community Complex. Our team led the programming effort which included multiple rounds of discussion with more than 30 faculty, staff, city agency and community groups, engaging the school user groups to understand each school’s educational goals, space needs and adjacency requirements. Arrowstreet investigated alternate approaches to classroom environments and other learning spaces to address the unique pedagogies of the two separate schools. We also worked with the City of Cambridge to leverage the entire complex as a fully utilized community resource, allowing for after hours and weekend use of the facility.
VR as a Design Tool
Arrowstreet used VR as a design tool during the design phases of the project. At first, the technology allowed us to evaluate spatial adjacencies of program, scale and proportion of the larger spaces (gallery, lobbies, cafeteria), and sight lines, finally to study colors and finishes. From this process, our team was able to develop 360 rendered views of each of these spaces to present to the client steering committee providing them with an immersive VR experience which enabled more informed and efficient sign off on space layout and finishes.
Using VR for Community Engagement
VR was also used to promote community engagement. It allowed the community stakeholders to easily understand what each space would feel like. The use of VR helped our team build excitement for the project through a hands-on interactive approach which was so much more effective than presenting still renderings to prompt a discussion. The use of VR and a monitor where audience members could see what the viewer was looking at in the goggles allowed our team to narrate the experience.
The VR experience was shared with all interested community groups. Parents, students and staff were able to experience the designs at school events and members of the community were offered the experience at various community meetings and the city-wide BBQ event. The use of VR personalized the experience and gave the Arrowstreet team a chance to connect more closely with the community. Sharing the VR experience with the students provided a key learning from this process; the views need to be adjustable for children. Their height and perspective is different than an adult.