The Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) has launched a new app which is designed to take users on a virtual journey through some of Australia’s most intriguing unrealised projects at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale.

Unveiled at The Mint, Sydney last week, the innovative technology is curated by felix._Giles_Anderson+Goad for Augmented Australia 1914-2014, the Australian exhibition for the Biennale.

Those with the Augmented Australia app will be able to interact with a suite of virtual material, including three-dimensional augmented models, images, voiceovers and animations of 11 historical and 11 contemporary unbuilt Australian projects, by pointing their handheld smart devices at trigger images in print or on screen.

Users will also have the opportunity to seek out and ‘walk through’ a real-world scale model of an unbuilt cathedral that has been geographically positioned in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Perth.

Selecting ‘Start Geo Triggers’ on the app will prompt a location detection. A ‘radar’ icon at the top left hand of the screen will show the direction of the model by a yellow dot. By moving towards the dot, you will see the full-scale cathedral, and can ‘walk through’ the building.

Trigger image 1: open the Augmented Australia app on a handheld smart device, select 'Start 2D Triggers' and point the device at this image

“The app is still under development so it is quite raw at this stage, but it is really exciting to see how far we have come in creating a totally immersive experience using augmented reality technology,” said Professor Rene Van Meeuwen, Director of felix.

“We wanted to provide Australians with an opportunity to engage with this technology and get a taste for what we will be showcasing in Venice.”

Trigger image 2: Melbourne Olympic Stadium, a 1952 competition entry by Harry Seidler.

The Augmented Australia exhibition will also bring to life the new Australian Pavilion by Denton Corker Marshall while it is still under construction in Venice.

Australia’s temporary pavilion for this year’s exhibition, Cloud Space, will house trigger images of each project and form a physical portal to Augmented Australia. Real-world scale 3D models will be geographically positioned around Venice during the Biennale.

Australia’s temporary pavilion for the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale, Cloud Space

Australian Pavilion Commissioner, Janet Holmes à Court AC, says the exhibition provides the opportunity to construct a bridge between architecture and the public by demonstrating the process, time and alternatives behind significant public works, whilst giving archived material a new lease of life.

“This is a ground breaking exhibition that tells the story of Australia’s architectural heritage as never before through reimagining and hi-tech innovation,” she said.

The exhibition will be open to the public throughout the 15th International Architecture Exhibition from 7 June to 23 November 2014.

The Augmented Australia app is now available for the public to download and preview select projects. It can be downloaded from the App Store (for iOS) or Google Play (for android). To use, open the app on a handheld smart device and select ‘Start 2D Triggers’ before pointing your phone at the printed or digital trigger images listed in this article. A suite of virtual material will automatically appear. 

Trigger image 3: Caught Unawares, a re-imagined Sydney Opera House by Minifie van Schaik