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Students create virtual forest to highlight kauri plight

Published: 6 September 2018

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Reality visits virtual in Auckland's CBD.

Design students from Auckland’s Media Design School have partnered with Ellen Melville Centre to create an onsite ‘urban forest’ installation. From Monday 17 – Friday 21 September, as part of a series of Conservation Week activations, city workers and visitors will be able to experience a kauri forest in a virtual space.

The installation, titled ‘Kauri Lounge’, will be set up in the Helen Clark Room of the centre and uses a combination of projections, sculptures and sound effects to simulate a New Zealand bush setting.

The concept

Students in their second year of a Bachelor of Media Design were tasked by the centre's management to create an activation of the community space "for people to experience the sights and sounds of a forest in the heart of central Auckland and learn about kauri dieback disease.”

After extensive planning and prototyping, the group reached a final concept that will allow them to transform the space into a virtual forest and educate the public, without impacting functionality.

“We are looking to create an inviting experience, but also to inform the public about the impact this disease is having on our kauri. Kauri dieback is a critical issue for our environment and we have been presented the opportunity to bring more awareness to the situation,” says student Donald Mavunga of the project.

Adam Small adds, “The kauri dieback project has been a great learning experience, from dealing with a client to tackling the conceptual challenge and spreading the awareness of the disease that is wiping out these trees.”

Throughout Conservation Week the Ellen Melville Centre will play host to a series of talks intended to heighten awareness of kauri dieback disease, an issue especially relevant in light of the recent closure of Auckland’s Waitākere Ranges.

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