Construction of the University of Exeter Engineering Research Centre and VSimulators motion platform is rapidly progressing and, in recent weeks, the project has reached key milestones.
A turf cutting event in March 2019 marked the start of the construction of a three storey building at Exeter Science Park to house the Exeter VSimulators multi-disciplinary research platform, due to open in early 2020. VSimulators will offer a state-of-the-art, world class facility, providing virtual reality (VR) technology capable of immersing up to nine occupants simultaneously in headset projected VR scenarios. A 4x4 metre, custom designed and worldwide unique motion platform, linked to the VR scenarios, will enable users to perceive realistic motion as they move around in a virtual world, whilst optical and inertial motion capture systems and an array of force plates will record their experiences.
Morgan Sindall were appointed as the construction company for the facility and began construction by excavating a large hole to enable the creation of a 50-tonne concrete inertia block. The block provided will isolate the motion platform from the rest of the building and provide a smooth mounting surface for securing the motion platform base. The prepared inertia block was wrapped up and protected while the building superstructure went up around it.
A few weeks later, the remaining building foundations were in place and erection of the steel framing system began. The skeleton of the VSimulators building started to take shape steadily over the next few weeks.
With the building frame almost complete, massive precast concrete planks were installed to complete the flooring system. The VSimulators team made regular visits to site and were given tours of the building under construction. As well as being able to look down from the first floor into what will become the VSimulators chamber, the newly completed roof provided great views of the Devon countryside.
The walls use a steel framing system, except for the VSimulator chamber, which uses masonry blocks. A team of Exeter researchers took the opportunity to evaluate the dynamic behaviour of the building. The project is on track to take partial handover of the building in October, ready to receive and commence the installation of the VSimulators equipment.