UK: HP and Nvidia are working together to resurrect the neo-classical architect Sir John Soane’s best work, i.e. the Bank of England building, using the internet, digital rendering, and virtual reality. The building was demolished in 1925, and was replaced with a newer building to accommodate the widening needs of the bank.
Project Soane, led by HP with Nvidia, intends to bring back Soane’s Bank of England by creating models and renders based on archives held by The Soane Museum in London. To do this, HP collaborated with Robert A.M. Stern Architects, analysing drawings made by Soane to identify sections of the building most open to Building Information Modeling (BIM).
"Once we had all the drawings curated we identified three areas of the building – two interior rooms and the exterior facade – that we felt could recreated with a high degree of accuracy,” Sean Young, worldwide segment manager of product development & AEC at HP, told me. “But how are we going to do it? It's a massive project and nobody at RAMSA had the time to take responsibility for delivering all of that.”
Instead of contracting a single architecture firm, HP turned to the community. The company tapped into a vast team of architects and designers dotted across the globe, encouraging collaboration through engineering software Autodesk A360 and offering awards to outstanding contributions.
They ended up with around 500 different architects working on the models, with one architect from the United Arab Emirates going so far as to fly to London to document the site in person.
“When we ended that modeling stage we ended up with very rich information,” Young explained. “As a matter of fact, we could now pass that information onto a construction firm and build these rooms and create these facades. The next obvious thing to do is render. We now have all the information we need to create these beautiful renderings. We have the bones, structure, geometry – but what we need to do now is take it to the next level.”
In phase two of Project Soane, HP is looking for digital renders made using the BIM models of phase one. The company is opening the project even wider, this time, offering over £21,000 worth of prizes across a handful of categories that include the best animation, best images, and best real-time submission. This last category would involve making a virtual reality version of Soane’s Bank of England.