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Historic Manchester Synagogue Recreated In VR

A historic Synagogue in Manchester city centre has been digitally preserved and recreated in virtual reality (VR) as part of a project involving Manchester Metropolitan University and Archives+ to make a digital record of the Manchester Reform Synagogue on Jackson’s Row.

The project has collected memories, images and films in order to combine them into a complete VR experience. Both the virtual and real buildings will be open to the public for a special launch event at the synagogue on 31st October, 2018.

Visitors who don a VR headset will be able to take a virtual tour, which will let them explore the history of the synagogue and hear personal stories from the congregation. The research project combines the expertise of Manchester Metropolitan University architects, historians and computer scientists, who used a range of tools, including CAD software and laser scanning to create the VR tour.

The Jackson’s Row synagogue was chosen due to its cultural significance in the city, which was the first new building completed in Manchester after the end of the second World War, after the previous synagogue was damaged in the Manchester Blitz of 1941.

Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen, from Manchester Reform Synagogue, said: “For our Jackson’s Row members this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience our synagogue in a unique way. As we begin to transition from our building for our re-development project this event is not to be missed and a remarkable way for us to learn about the history of our community and celebrate our potential going forward.”

The Synagogue was opened in 1953, and designed by Peter Cummings and Eric Levy both of whom were part of the congregations.

Dr Richard Brook, Reader in Architecture at Manchester School of Architecture, Manchester Metropolitan University and lead on the project, said: “Jackson’s Row synagogue is a building of historic and cultural significance to Manchester. We were incredibly grateful to be given the opportunity to be given access to it and the memories of its congregation for the initial stage of our initial VR buildings project.”

The launch event for the Life of Buildings VR project will take place on 31st October, 2018. Further information and tickets are available through the Eventbrite page.

For future coverage on new and upcoming VR projects, keep checking back with VRFocus.