Animated Spatial Time Machine

01 July 2022 → 30 June 2024
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Digital and interaction design
    • Mixed media
  • Natural sciences
    • Computer-aided design
    • Virtual reality and related simulation
  • Social sciences
    • Arts, media and communication curriculum and pedagogics
    • Civic learning and community development
    • Cultural participation
    • Communications and media policy
    • Futures studies
    • Visual communication
    • Human-centered design
  • Engineering and technology
    • Environmental and sustainable planning
    • Smart cities
    • Urban and regional design
    • Urbanism and regional planning
    • Geospatial information systems
4D Communication Citizen participation Metaverse Time Machine Co-design Smart Cities Co-creation Citizen science 3D Virtual Reality
Project description

The ability to travel through time fascinates people. Everyone has a good dream about what the past was like or what the future will look like. Timelines with text, 2D plans and photos from the past have long been a time machine at the back of the classroom for history lessons or online in recent decades. Rarely or never is a link provided in these applications with future development plans by policymakers, (landscape) architects, spatial planners and project developers. Little or no 3D models are also used. After all, a subject named "future" does not exist next to the subject "history" in primary school. Besides the past and the future, there is, of course, also the present. Furthermore, 3D city models increasingly form the basis for this, called Digital (geo)Twins, as a digital copy of the present situation. While more cities worldwide are committed to building digital environments, it is only about the past. Most of these timelines are still 2D applications with images and text.

The Department of Geography of Ghent University strives for a formulated approach to developing Spatial Time Machines. Not only interdisciplinary with historians for the past and planners for the future but also transdisciplinary by stimulating co-creation and co-design with citizens in a digital 3D (space) and 4D (time) world. Digital Geo-ICT techniques such as online 3D/4D, Virtual Reality, and Augmented Reality can better represent our dreams about the past and future and thus stimulate different senses, visually, auditory and eventually even the sense of smell. Movement and animation using Game Engines make the whole thing even more lively.

This project application aims to vulgarise the possibilities of an "Animated Spatial Time Machine", an essential step toward a hybrid world in which reality merges into eXtended Reality. These newly described environments are helpful for research, education, instruction, evaluation, policy decisions and interactive communication. We propose a project where we make every citizen fit their dreams into a 4D environment. This will be done through a call and a competition formula in which we trigger every citizen in the Ghent City Region to enter their dreams in a 3D drawing, with accompanying animation and storytelling. This directly stimulates policymakers, researchers, and teachers to further nurture and use those "Animated Spatial Time Machines" in a societal context.l Time Machines" in a societal context.