A brand new virtual reality show home experience is completely revolutionising the house-buying journey for clients of the Leeds-based property developers, Citu.
Working with Leeds Beckett University on a two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project, Citu has created a digital platform which removes the need the traditional bricks and mortar show homes.
Leeds Beckett BSc (Hons) Games Design graduate, James Fenwick, was one of the key leaders in the project, with support from a team of academics at the university, alongside studying for a Masters by Research degree.
What the Virtual Reality Experience (VRE) allows Citu to create an immersive, interactive and customer-friendly experience so the customers are able to navigate themselves through a digital and virtual home within Citu’s new city centre Climate Innovation District.
This unique experience includes being able to customise the Citu Home to match a clients’ specific requirements, as well as viewing performance data such as heat loss depending upon the materials of the building.
This project was funded by Innovate UK and has now been awarded with a grade of outstanding by the UK-wide Knowledge Transfer Partnership funders, which is the highest possible result attainable.
The Sales and Marketing Director of Citu, Kev Gillespie explained:
“Citu prides itself on doing things differently and the VRE James created for us is another great example of that. It has been a long-standing industry dilemma how you do justice to a home that’s not even been built yet, but thanks to this partnership with Leeds Beckett University, the Citu VRE really helped bring our homes to life.”
“Starting the KTP immediately after graduating was an amazing opportunity. The project gave me a unique opportunity to work alongside academics at Leeds Beckett and industry leaders at Citu meaning I was never alone or unsupported.
“The project was a lot of hard work, and at times very challenging, but the support and confidence from both Citu and the university made the whole experience a pleasure.”
“The VRE has been a huge selling tool for us and every person who has experienced it has been blown away by the attention to detail. Not only does it give potential customers the opportunity to walk around their home of the future it also gives a sense of space and design to the outdoor community areas and avenues which are just as important in the Climate Innovation District as the homes themselves.”
“Ten years ago, it would have been unheard of to think about buying a house worth more than £300,000 completely online, relying solely on a digitally created vision of the home. However, this is exactly what Citu are now successfully doing thanks to James’s work and around 1,000 people have already used the virtual reality system.”
“The project brought ample opportunities for my own personal development. The highlight of which was heading to Los Angeles for the Vision conference. At the conference I met and heard from industry leaders, sampled the latest technology and had a very brief discussion with Richard Dawkins about the parallels of human biology and virtual reality. Speaking with VR professionals at the conference reinforced that the project was on the right track, and at its forefront.”
James has now recently been appointed as Citu’s Virtual Reality Experience Manager on a permanent basis, with both Citu and Leeds Beckett sitting on the committee of the Leeds Climate Change Commission, which allows them to input on influencing and leading sustainable development and changes in Yorkshire.