Virtual Assembly


Virtual Assembly (2020/21)

Made in collaboration with the mosque congregation and Islamic scholars of MANUK (Muslim Association of Nigeria UK), Virtual Assembly provides access to the mosque and its community via a virtual reality platform.
Using the research methodology site-integrity, Virtual Assembly adheres to the social, religious, cultural and environmental impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both the building and the community it forms part of are experienced virtually during a time when the mosque cannot be experienced physically. 

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Terrestrial or Close-range Photogrammetry was used to generate an image-based 3D model of the mosque exterior. Hundreds of images are processed and then aligned to create a point cloud which generates a mesh of the mosque, for which the textures are built onto. In the computer vision community, this type of photogrammetry is sometimes called Image-Based Modeling. As it was not possible to obtain ariel photos of the roof of the building a flat plane was added in 3D modelling software to complete the model.

To create the interior of the mosque a different 3D modelling method was used. A 360-degree camera was used to generate 3D stereoscopic panoramas of the whole site. The panoramas are then spatially aligned to create a virtual tour of the building. Where every panorama become a point of navigation within the space.

These models are imbedded into a P5js (JavaScript) based website providing a platform to navigate around the media.

As the audience explores the interior of the mosque they can chose to activate the research findings produced as part of the Assembly project. Pre-recorded films of congregational prayer are re-presented back into the 3D space. The VR model also hosts the social histories and personal accounts of the congregation situated in the context of their story. 

This project was developed with the Muslim Council of Britain as part of Visit My Mosque 2020 which virtually invited the wider community into the mosque. This project was showcased during the event and the research findings were discussed in a live Q+A with Islamic scholars and mosque leaders, advancing debate around technology and the interpretation of aniconism in Islam.

#VisitMyMosque Day is a national campaign facilitated by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) supporting 250+ mosque across the UK to hold open days. During 2020, despite the lockdown, #VisitMyMosque went virtual with a series of live virtual tours as part of the #GreatGetTogether weekend 19-21 June 2020.