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Bury St Edmunds multi-million pound virtual reality education facility to be built by Eastern Colleges Group



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A multi-million pound education facility specialising in virtual reality technologies is to be built in Bury St Edmunds.

The Eastern Colleges Group, which includes Abbeygate Sixth Form College and West Suffolk College in the town, has secured £2 million from the Office for Students for the Extended Reality (XR) facility.

Encompassing virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies, it will be built at the Group's University Studies and Professional Development Centre, in Western Way.

The Extended Reality facility will encompass virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies. Picture: Windsor Patania Architects
The Extended Reality facility will encompass virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies. Picture: Windsor Patania Architects

Phase one will see the 300m2 facility incorporate remote access into each room including a lecture theatre with wall-to-wall screens, immersive sound, video and motion capture studios.

Dr Nikos Savvas, Chief Executive of Eastern Colleges Group said: “This is an incredibly exciting time for us as educators.

"We are looking to be the leading institution for Extended Reality education and neuro-diverse talent development for industry across post 16 education within the UK.

It will feature a fully immersive lecture theatre with wall-to-wall screens. Picture: Windsor Patania Architects
It will feature a fully immersive lecture theatre with wall-to-wall screens. Picture: Windsor Patania Architects

"This ambitious project will give students exceptional opportunities and will also offer businesses unique opportunities in training and collaboration.”

It will enable Eastern Colleges Group, which also includes One Sixth Form College in Ipswich and University Studies in Bury St Edmunds, to run a 'Hub and Spoke' teaching and learning facility.

It promises to take the remote classroom concept to the next level by allowing students in remote locations to become fully immersed with their colleagues and teachers while remaining close to home.

The facility will also enable industry partners to run training in a similar fashion.

The award-winning UK-based architectural practice Windsor Patania Architects are developing the design of the facility.

Ryan Windsor, Development Director and Co-Founder said: “At Windsor Patania, we’re keen to integrate cutting-edge technology like this into our architectural services. Fascinated by the technology, our team was thrilled to earn the opportunity to help deliver the XR Lab vision.”