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Unveiling Melbourne Metro Tunnel HQ

BEST. has unveiled the Metro Tunnel HQ for Rail Projects Victoria, an immersive visitor centre that uses virtual and augmented-reality technology to help Victorians learn about the progress of the $11bn Metro Tunnel Project.

The aim of the Metro Tunnel HQ, located at 125-133 Swanston Street near the City Square construction site, is to encourage all Victorians to learn more about construction of the Metro Tunnel – the biggest-ever public transport project in Victoria’s history.

BEST. designed and built the Metro Tunnel HQ, collaborating with digital production houses Urban Circus and Augmented Reality Experts to flip the traditional notion of an ‘information hub’ on its head and deliver a highly immersive, engaging and multi-sensory design experience.

The design of the space follows the form of the ‘cylinder’ (representative of the tunnel) and is evident in the joinery and feature lighting, with information points throughout catering to both short and longer stays by visitors.

Deploying a mix of virtual and augmented-reality technology, LED-tiled panels, as well as static panels with large infographics, the centre will provide real-time information about construction progress and temporary changes to the road, tram and rail networks. Visitors can wear virtual reality goggles for an up-close look at how four giant tunnel-boring machines will go about their work, while an interactive game offers another engaging experience for both parents and their kids.

Other augmented reality opportunities are located within the centre, also designed to be highly engaging and physically immersive experiences showcasing the project’s benefits for Victorians.

“The design of the space deliberately redefines how to engage people with the notion of a traditional information hub, using a fun, tech-based approach to ignite interest in projects that the general public can sometimes find difficult to relate to – particularly when the work is underground and people can’t see for themselves how it’s progressing. Our aim in designing this space was to help people feel a sense of wonder for the size and breadth of the Metro Tunnel Project by giving them a direct experience of it through technology, bringing to life what couldn’t be seen before.”

Evan Tattersall, CEO of Rail Projects Victoria, added: “Metro Tunnel HQ is giving school kids and adults alike a unique opportunity to learn about this once-in-a-generation project and at the same time inspiring the next generation of engineers and tradies. 

“The high-tech visitor centre sets a new standard in community engagement for large infrastructure projects, helping Victorians understand how the Metro Tunnel will benefit them and the job opportunities on offer.”

Metro Tunnel HQ includes a dedicated learning space. As part of an education program, school children of all ages will visit HQ and then walk to the nearby worksite’s viewing windows along Swanston Street to learn about the project’s construction techniques and the types of jobs needed to build it.

Jacob Burke