A recent graduate from the Department of Urban Planning and Design at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University had his final year project on virtual reality for urban planning and design research published at an international conference.

Siyu Chen, who graduated in July this year, presented his final year project at the 12th International Symposium on Environment-Behavior Research (EBRA 2016), held in Chongqing in China. He was listed as first author and the full paper was included in the conference proceedings.

This is quite an achievement for an undergraduate student, explained Dr Bing Chen from the department, who supervised Siyu’s project.

“To have his final year project included at a conference while at undergraduate level demonstrates not only Siyu’s talent as a researcher, but also the strength of the research-led learning and teaching approach being adopted by the department.”

The project, ‘Design research for social interaction space in university campuses – A case study of XJTLU’, explored how social interaction spaces on the XJTLU campus could be better utilised and proposed design solutions based on a literature review on environmental psychology and case studies of best practice worldwide.

The project used virtual reality technology to verify its design proposals, seeking to clarify whether they would be able to trigger psychological change in students and staff and lead to more effective social interactions.

It also demonstrated how emerging technology in urban planning and design, such as virtual reality, building information modelling and other cloud based ICT tools for example, will impact city development, speculating that they will lead to users being able to better understand design and the built environment through interacting with it in an immersive virtual environment.

The project received excellent feedback from the conference review panel and participants, particularly Professor Hui Xie from Chongqing University School of Architecture and his students.

Siyu said: ‘Thank you to the Department of Urban Planning and Design at XJTLU for supporting me to attend the conference. I really enjoyed the final year project process, during which my supervisor encouraged me to fellow my heart instead of telling me what to do. I found it interesting to work on something in which I am really interested. I believe the project will have an impact on the development of my career.”

It’s not the first success Siyu has enjoyed while a student at XJTLU. In his third year on the BA Urban Planning and Design programme, his coursework, which he completed in collaboration with fellow student Ting Wang, was recognised as a ‘Commended Work’ in a competition organised by the China Urban Planning Education Network.

The coursework proposed the idea of creating urban farms on the abandoned railway tracks of Nanjing’s Pukou Railway Station, an unused early 20th century railway station to the north of the city.

Dr Chen added: “We’re enormously proud of Siyu’s achievements while at XJTLU and we wish him the best for his future.”

Now that he has graduated from XJTLU, Siyu plans to pursue a masters degree in Australia.

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