Lab Contact: Jacqueline Cawston
The Lanchester Collection held at Coventry University library is the biggest source of Lanchester information in the world and with the help of Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) we aim to preserve and disseminate the heritage and astonishing achievements of Dr Frederick Lanchester (1868-1946), one of Britain’s greatest engineers and inventors. We will engage people with heritage through the physical archives as well as a truly interactive digital platform, bringing the story to life with augmented reality and games that can be used anywhere, anytime, reaching the wider Coventry community through an interactive outreach programme echoing his legacy and creativity.
Lanchester is referred to as “Britain’s own Leonardo da Vinci” he created the first all-British motor boat, the first all-British 4-wheel petrol car, he produced many designs including turbo-charging, power-steering, 4-wheel drive, hybrid engines and more. Coventry University holds a unique collection of Frederick’s work in notebooks, blueprints, photographs, patents and correspondence that deserves preservation. Lanchester’s heritage remains relatively unknown, we aim to change that.
Bringing the archive to life
The activity has four phases, activated over the three year period of this project as follows:
- Conservation and Digitisation – Preservation of the archive is necessary to conserve his designs and discoveries for future generations – this first part of the project is now complete and in time will see some of the most precious pieces of the collection become more easily available and accessible through digitisation, whilst also preserving them for future generations
- Lanchester Interactive Archive Space – The project will create a ‘Lanchester Interactive Archive Space’ within the Lanchester Library, and this first phase sees the formalisation and realisation of plans for how the space will look and operate. The LIA Space will encourage learning through fun, with displays showing highlights of the collection and digital interactive games and resources. Refurbishment works undertaken in the library have created a dedicated, glass-fronted space within the library to house the LIA Space. A staffed enquiry desk opposite the entrance to the space will provide support to visitors and a degree of invigilation of the space while it is open for general access. The space will be open to the public seven days a week. We anticipate it will be transformed and ready for its first visitors in early 2017.
- Digital Platform – The online platform will act as a gateway to the archive and will host the digital learning elements, allowing virtual visitors to interact with the games and digital learning material, as well as providing access to the digital archive itself. The digital elements, serious games and augmented reality overlays will allow individuals to interact with the collection, for example: exploring how Lanchester’s inventions actually work through game play. Work is well underway with these elements. The games and augmented reality are currently being tested, and the website will launch early 2017.
- Outreach – Beginning in 2017, a wide-reaching outreach programme will target schools, community groups and special interest groups, based on the principles of broadening participation and inspiring learning through fun. A series of invention workshops will encourage young people and adults to think about engineering in a new light and to develop new skills. A ‘pop up’ exhibition will take the project out into the community, providing a taster of the collection, the digital archive and the interactive elements of the project.
The interpretation within the Lanchester Discovery Space is anticipated to be a mix of digital content and physical displays, showcasing some of the physical objects from the collection alongside the digital interactive and augmented reality, which will include the following elements:
- Responsive web portal with parallax timeline
- Digital collection and searchable database
- Augmented reality with 3D Assets
- Interactive Games (Invention Zone section within the web portal)
- Project funding, consultant recruitment and delivery planning
In the first phase (February 2016 to December 2016) the team worked with external consultants and partners to create the key elements of the Discovery Space and Learning Platform.
- Project activation, portal testing and outreach planning
As we move towards opening the space, the team is now working with partners to plan the outreach work, whilst identifying the widest audience for the archive and its contents. The outreach work will be previewed in a ‘pop-up’ exhibition, designed to promote the collection, preview some of the work around the artifacts and test the interactivity.
- Project delivery and future opportunities
In 2017 and 2018 the project will be busy showcasing the work, and enthusing the audiences with the range and depth of the Lanchester legacy.
Research Findings to Date
- As this first phase develops we are working with research partners to help identify, map and clarify intended research outputs in relation to engagement, specifically around targeting impact to increase STEM awareness in Key Stage 2 settings.
Jan 1st 2016
Dec 31st 2018