Virtual Cities

Studying the Development and Future of the Urban Historic Environment in Kyoto and Norwich Using New Technology

The preservation of the outstanding urban heritage of the city of Norwich, England’s second city during the medieval period, is a matter of international significance. The inaugural symposium of the Centre for Archaeology and Heritage at the Sainsbury Institute on 31 May 2011, brought together researchers involved in the Virtual Norwich Project, including the Norwich Heritage Economic Regeneration Trust (HEART) and computer modellers at the University of East Anglia, with the Virtual Kyoto Project, which is pioneering computer modelling of the development of Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, based at the Centre for the Mitigation of Disasters in Urban Areas at Ritsumeikan University, directed by Professor Yano Keiji.

The symposium began with a public session and welcome by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia and Chair of the Management Board of the Sainsbury Intitute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, Professor Edward Acton, at the Norwich Millennium Library where a live link was established with colleagues in Kyoto University. The symposium then moved to Virtual Reality Lab of the School of Environmental Sciences at UEA, for a series of academic presentations from researchers involved in the Virtual Norwich Project, and other specialists working on the computer modelling of the environment, both urban and rural (including Graeme Earl, University of Southampton; Andrew Hudson-Smith, University College London, Centre for Advanced Spatial Research; Stuart Jeffrey, Archaeological Data Services; Steve Roskams and Cath Neal, University of York), with comments from Brian Ayers, former County Archaeologist for Norfolk and Director of the Butrint Foundation and Dr Ferdinand de Jong (School of World Art and Museology, UEA). The symposium was co-organised with the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, Professor Andrew Lovett and Dr Katy Appleton speaking about the virtual realisation of the Norfolk region, and Norwich HEART, Sophie Cabot (Norwich HEART) introducing the Virtual Norwich project along with presentations by David Drinkwater (Urban Modelling Group, School of Computing Sciences at UEA), Professor Andy Day (University of East Anglia). Additional presentations from Dr Rayna Denison (School of Film and Television Studies) and Dr Ulrich Heinze (Centre for Japanese Studies and Sainsbury Institute) set the discussions in context of Japanese studies at UEA.

Further collaborations have continued between the Centre for Archaeology and Heritage, Norwich HEART and the Virtual Kyoto project. We presented further research at the Culture Matters 2012 conference in Norwich.