Students bring Solihull’s past to life

Students taking part on the Digital Innovators Skills Programme have brought Solihull’s past to life through the creation of a virtual gallery

Over the last eight months, two Solihull College and University Centre students have been working on a project for the Core Library as part of their industry placement with Solihull Council. Kira Ellis and Harrison Lockwood were tasked with replicating the experience of visiting a gallery, as well as exploring ways to enhance this experience through a virtual platform. The intent behind this being to increase the number of people who can enjoy the library’s exhibitions by making it both more accessible and immersive.  

After researching how best to approach this task and developing the skills necessary to do so, such as using advanced 3D programming software, Kira and Harrison set about creating a virtual gallery experience using Virtual Reality (VR) technology to showcase the library’s recent exhibition in the Heritage Gallery – Silhill Hall.  

Working in collaboration with Solihull Council, with ongoing support from the Digital Innovators team and Taran 3D, Kira and Harrison have produced a working prototype of virtual gallery displaying the artifacts from the Silhill Hall exhibition.  

Harrison Lockwood and Kira Ellis with the authors of Silhill Hall – History and Memories, who are also descendants of the previous owners of the Hall which expired the exhibition which has been replicated virtually.

The result of this prototype is that the Heritage Gallery will be available to view online in the future as well as viewed using VR technology which truly immerses the viewer in the gallery environment.  

To complete this project, Kira and Harrison presented their work at a launch event held at the Core Library. In attendance at the launch were members of Solihull Council, Solihull Chamber, Solihull College and University Centre, and the authors of Silhill Hall – History and Memories, who are descendants of previous owners of the hall – all of whom got to trial the VR experience and see the exhibition come to life.  

Cllr Diane Howell, Cabinet Member for Communities and Leisure, said: 

“What an achievement! I’m in awe of the creativity and innovation Kira and Harrison have brought to this project, the results are outstanding. 

“It is exciting to see developments like this happening in Solihull. Solihull has so much culture to offer; the Core Library puts together wonderful exhibitions year-round, and the virtual spaces will allow us to showcase these to an even wider audience. 

“Thank you to all involved in making this launch event possible, including Tracey Williams, Solihull Council’s Library Specialist for Heritage & Local Studies, who worked very closely with the team for the duration of this project. 

“Delivering a prototype of this calibre requires a remarkable amount of skill, dedication and hard work – both Kira and Harrison most certainly have a bright future ahead of them!” 

Attendees at the launch of this project were able to trial Harrison and Kira’s prototype using VR technology!

Whilst the exhibition for Silhill Hall has now ended, Kira and Harrison have thought ahead by creating the prototype with future exhibitions in mind. The team are currently preparing a handover of this prototype, as well as a training package which will enable staff at Solihull Council to display future exhibitions in the same way – and bring more of Solihull’s past to life.  

Digital Innovators is keen to collaborate with businesses and educational institutions who are interested in bridging the gap between education and employment. Organisations wanting to get involved should contact Digital Innovators on

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