Nostalgia in Virtual Reality

In Synthetic Architectures, we were asked to craft a virtual reality experience based on a single word. My project will be inspired by nostalgia. VR has a lot going for it when paired with an emotion like nostalgia. VR can be used to immerse the user in almost any kind of environment, built or otherwise. Nostalgia, on the other hand, is about longing for what once was and very often for that which is no more. We long to experience the world from a child’s perspective or for a meal from that restaurant that went out of business.

Recently my brother found an old VHS tape that we had sent to our grandmother in 1991 and had it digitized. Featured in it is our old family apartment in Seoul, which was demolished in 1994. I hadn’t thought much about that apartment recently, but seeing it rendered so clearly in video evoked that yearning in me to return to it. This felt like a great place to explore what virtual reality can achieve.

The beautiful Seoul city skyline circa 1990. The apartment complex I grew up in, seen here on the slopes of Mt. Nam, was largely considered an eyesore by Seoulites.

The demolition of the building was widely publicized event, so footage of it was pretty easy to find. I was present watching the implosion from a rooftop nearby.

Our apartment was on the left wing of the building.

Finally, after some very fortuitous Google searching, I found a floor plan of the mirrored unit of our own apartment in this tweet. It’s from an ongoing conversation about apartment design, but I’m amazed that these images are so clean!

The specific plan that was ours is this (photoshopped in to reflect the correct orientation):

This was a spacious apartment and was designed to have a more “western” arrangement. A more updated version or perhaps a renovated one would include an open kitchen.

With all of this, I have at least something to start with. I’ve never used a video file as the basis for texturing and modeling, so that will be interesting.

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