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Museums and the Web

An annual conference exploring the social, cultural, design, technological, economic, and organizational issues of culture, science and heritage on-line.

UAR - Urban Augmented Reality

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Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI)


IN10 Communication / NAI / Triangle Studios / Layar / DPI Animation House




UAR (Urban Augmented Reality) is the world’s first mobile architecture application featuring augmented reality with 3D models. You can see and experience the built environment of the past, the present and the future, via an iPhone and Android application. The Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI) has set itself an incredible challenge: to make The Netherlands the first country in the world to have its entire architecture viewable on smartphones thanks to augmented reality.


UAR, the NAI mobile architecture application, provides information about the built environment on the basis of text, image, archival material and film on an iPhone or Google Android. By means of advanced 3D models, right in the middle of the city UAR shows you on your phone what isn’t there. The city as it once was – for instance by showing buildings that once stood there. The city as it might have been – by showing scale models and design drawings of alternative designs that were never implemented. And the city of the future – by showing artist’s impressions of buildings under construction or in the planning stage.

In the application you get all sorts of extra information about architectural projects, architect biographies, sketches, drawings, environments and an overview of the process of the realisation of the projects. UAR brings the ideas and stories in architecture to life by adding audio tours within themes and guides who tell you about the buildings surrounding you.

Augmented reality (AR): how it works

AR can be used on phones with a camera, compass and GPS. Point the phone at a building and you see the building on your screen with a digital layer of information on top. See, for instance, what the original design of that building looked like, or compare a design by a different architect.

New architecture network
In a very short space of time UAR has developed to become a broad mobile platform for architecture and urban design. Created from the ambition to make the NAI collection accessible outside the walls of the institute, UAR has by now become a widely supported platform in which numerous parties cooperate: architecture centres, firms of architects, art institutions, municipal archives, museums, local authorities and market parties. All information that is related to architecture and urban design in the widest sense of the word have to be available via UAR. We’re also planning to add user generated content to the application (April 2011).