4D helps charity transform farm into supported living accommodation


Virtual Worlds’ software is a renowned sales tool within the kitchen and bathroom industry but has recently been used for a different purpose and all for a fantastic cause.


JPC Community Farm is a supported living charity that are embarking on the process of transforming 23.5 acres of land near Stokesley, North Yorkshire into a 5-star (Outstanding) environment for young people with additional needs. The Farm will consist of 21 apartments providing independent supported living for 23 young adults. The project is part of a government push towards providing an alternative to residential care homes for individuals with special needs.


The Farm was a private residence and working farm, so it was important for charity owners Paul and Julie Connaughton to present a realistic visual of what the new accommodation will look like in order to get buy-in from funding partners and future residents.


Virtual Worlds’ 4D Virtual Reality package offers a vivid, realistic and immersive ‘try before you buy’ experience. Users are literally able to move around a room before a brick has been laid. Design specialist, Portrack Interiors, has used Virtual Worlds software from the very start and knew 4D would be the best way of bringing their vision for the Farm to life.


“4D gives designers a new lease of life,” said Michael Fields, senior design consultant and project manager at Portrack Interiors. “It’s so much better than drawing up a design and building it in the hope that people buy into your ideas. Back in the day we would do line drawings, but virtual reality allows us to move parts of the design around and put the user in control of the process.”


Michael and the Virtual Worlds team travelled up to the Farm and worked closely with Paul and Julie to develop a 4D model of the accommodation.


The Farm held two open days at the end of August where Michael presented the concept to representatives from the local authority and NHS, as well as the families of the individuals that will be moving into the apartments.


Michael commented: “Virtual Reality is a great presentation tool and really helps to explain a difficult transformation.


“It’s very hard to imagine a working farm transformed into a living space, it’s difficult to just point at a corner in the room and say imagine a sofa and table there, but by using 4D technology viewers can actually see the room with a sofa and table in it and even walk around it.”


The professionals and families that attended the open days were “blown away” by the 4D demo – for the majority of them it was the first time they had seen the technology used in this way.


“It’s given us a gold star in the eyes of investors,” said Paul. “We’re able to show people around the new Farm before the building work has even started – and in a safe way, so without the need for hard hats. It’s really raised the bar when it comes to presenting a project.”


He added: “It’s surreal when you put the headset on and see the amount of detail in the space – you can even look out of the window and see the same view that you will see once the accommodation has been built.


“We’ve had mums and dads view it and ask ‘when can I move in?’. Parents are protective of their children anyway but when a child has special needs there’s that extra layer of protection so we want to make the transition as smooth as possible for them. Virtual Worlds 4D software has allowed us to do that – families have been so impressed that we’ve used the technology for their benefit and planned every detail.”


Nathan MacLean, managing director at Virtual Worlds, said: “The JPC Community Farm is a fantastic cause and we’re honoured to have been a part of it. Our technology can make a big difference to projects of all shapes and sizes and can really give presentations that special edge.”

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