Published on 13 November 2017
The London Boulevard - VR as a tool
The Witteveen+Bos office in London has worked with teams in the Netherlands to produce Dutch-style cycling infrastructure designs to support London Cycling Campaign’s London Boulevard initiative. We developed these designs into a 3D model and produced a Virtual Reality (VR) street simulation, so stakeholders can experience the look and feel of the future London Boulevard.
The London Boulevard is a proposed 2-km-long East-West route in central London that will promote walking, cycling and public transport. The current corridor is heavily trafficked, busy and polluted. Collisions between motor vehicles and pedestrians are frequent, especially at junctions. Conditions for walking and cycling are unpleasant with no dedicated space for cycling – yet it is one of the city’s busiest East-West cycling routes for commuters. Our designs propose creating separate cycle lanes and safer junctions, and improving public spaces with greenery and seats to encourage people to stay in the area.
Using VR, we set out to show what a key junction would look like when the proposals are implemented. Unlike plans and visualisations from one perspective, a VR simulation is instantly understandable and is therefore much more effective and inclusive than traditional methods as a means of engaging with people’s views and ideas. VR makes it easy to imagine how the suggested changes would result in more businesses opening up and public spaces being created and enjoyed.
If implemented, the London Boulevard will transform a key walking and cycling route and serve as a flagship of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s new ‘Healthy Streets’ programme. Using Virtual Reality as a tool for engagement on this project has attracted very positive media coverage and enthusiasm from the people who have already tried it out. We were recently shortlisted for the Best Innovation Award at the 2017 Healthy Streets Awards. The positive response to this tool really demonstrates the importance of applying Witteveen+Bos’ sustainable design principles by developing multifunctional, flexible, participatory and societal designs.