Immersive AR Experience: Guardians of Kielder

AR app explores Kielder's history, invites guardianship, and connects globally


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Key takeaways

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Kielder Water & Forest Park, located in Northumberland near the Scottish border, is renowned for its natural beauty, boasting the largest working forest in England and the biggest man-made lake in Northern Europe. Home to a diverse array of plant and animal species, this area is a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

The Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust (KWFPDT) sought to enhance visitor engagement and learning while driving revenue and attracting new audiences. To achieve this, they partnered with Digital Catapult North East Tees Valley to launch a competitive process for digital agencies to create an immersive experience. Arcade was selected, leading to the inception of 'Guardians of Kielder'.

Arcade's response was an augmented reality (AR)-driven experience aimed at bringing audiences closer to Kielder's rich history and narratives. This immersive digital experience allows users to explore the park's evolution over time, from its pre-historic origins to the present day. They can witness the impact of the reservoir's creation in the 1970s and understand how the landscape has changed over the centuries.

The highlight of the experience is the 'Guardians' feature, where users can become guardians of an area of Kielder themselves. This not only deepens their connection to the park but also offers them the opportunity to support Kielder financially by signing up as a guardian.

Recreating Kielder's landscape across different time periods was a meticulous process. Using open-source terrain data, satellite imagery, and contour data from old maps, Arcade built an accurate 3D model of present-day Kielder. They then reconstructed the landscape below the waterline and added back in the villages, roads, and fields that existed before the reservoir was built. This process required extensive research and a touch of artistic license to recreate the landscape as it appeared thousands and even millions of years ago.

The 'Guardians' app allows users to choose their area of guardianship, whether deep in the forest, on the shores of the lake, or in the marshes. They can visualize their chosen area and feel a genuine connection to the land, no matter where they are in the world. Overall, the app has been well-received, with partners at Kielder delighted with the outstanding quality of work delivered by Arcade. The app not only enhances visitor experience but also fosters a deeper appreciation for Kielder's natural and cultural heritage.

Rrahul Sethi
June 24, 2024
5 min read