October @ the House

Environments 19 November 2014 | 9.37am

The Arup Sydney office recently ran an initiative called October @ the House, to celebrate Arup’s connection with the Sydney Opera House. It sought to bring all of our staff together in an interactive and informal way, to share and capture knowledge on Arup’s founding project in Australia.

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Through a series of technical and storytelling talks, a site to collect stories and experiences, music, films, building of the Lego Opera House and a hack day, a buzz was created in the office with over 350 staff attending the events. Using some of the data that we had collected, we were able to present some digitally innovative concepts back to the office. This showcased what’s possible with our own internal knowledge, sparking ideas for future work and digital innovation in our projects.

The hack day was an opportunity to play with some emerging technology and introducing the wider office to new and innovative ways of communicating information. We pulled together a variety of technical datasets and people’s stories of their favourite Opera House experiences and used them as the basis for the hacks.


Augmented and virtual reality were a big component of the event, in particular the interaction of the physical and the digital where the Lego Opera House featured heavily. Using the Juaino platform by Metaio, people were able to use the information we had collected in a variety of interesting applications.

Safiah Moore created an image recognition app, where looking at a series of icons though a smartphone camera showed users photos, videos and played audio clips from the Opera House’s history.


Ben Cooper-Woolley used the 3D point cloud environment map feature in the Metaio platform to scan the Lego Opera House creating a 3D map which could be recognised by the app. I was then able to overlay the structural BIM models for the concert halls over the Lego, giving users an insight into the internal structure not visible normally.


Other highlights included Tom Gasson’s use of an aurduino to stream #octatthehouse tweets and display them on a small LCD display, and Daisy Smith giving Bryan Adams fans a treat with a new take on his famous concert at the venue. She created an immersive visualisation of the sound of the concert which used some exciting web technology including webgl, three.js and the Google cardboard virtual reality system.

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Why was the event so successful? There was something for everyone, it was informal, our office leadership was highly supportive and the short term practical nature of the initiative kept it fresh and fun. We had no idea if the concept would work but we were amazed by the response and it demonstrated that you don’t always need a detailed schedule and prescriptive outputs to get buy-in, just some good ideas, cool toys, data and free beer and pizza.


Hopefully everyone was able feel a better connection to the iconic building, and discover a little bit more about an important part of Arup’s history and culture.

Kim Sherwin

Sydney, Australia

“A Librarian by trade and now working in a dual library and knowledge sharing role. I’m interested in creating innovative ways to encourage people to share their knowledge. I’m also keen to engage people with the library and information in a way that they don’t expect. ”

View all posts by: Kim Sherwin
  • Kim Sherwin

    Heaps of fun!