1 Dec 2023 17:00 - 19:00 GR 06/07, English Faculty, 7 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DP


Designing VR and Digital Tools for Cultural Heritage to Promote Social Cohesion

Speaker: Professor Lily Díaz-Kommonen (Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Helsinki)


Social cohesion is a pervasive topic in our societies where social media tools are often regarded as sources of chaos and division. In this lecture I will discuss two research projects involving design, digital technology tool development and the cultural heritage sector. One of the projects is the interactive historical reconstruction in virtual reality of the Pavilion of Finland at the 1900 World Fair in Paris (2006-2023). The creation of this structure realized by local artists and intellectuals, underscored the historical reality of Finland as an independent nation with its own culture, language, and narratives. The other project was realized during the years 2020-2023 and we developed a virtual reality prototype for a Pop-up VR Museum based on objects from the collection of Design Museum Helsinki. Among the questions dealt with in both these studies is that of whether it is possible to use design and digital tools together with cultural heritage to promote social cohesion?


Lily Díaz-Kommonen is Professor in New Media at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Since 1998, she has led the Systems of Representation research group that works in visualisation and virtual reality for culture and heritage. She has a transdisciplinary background in anthropology (BA, Brandeis University), computer arts (MFA, School of Visual Arts, NY) and new media and design (DA, Aalto University). Significant research projects include the ‘Raisio Archeology Archive’ created as part of the Illuminating History Through the Eyes of Media project funded by the Academy of Finland; the ‘Digital Facsimile of the Map of Mexico 1550’ project that received First Prize in the 2004 Nabi Digital Storytelling International Competition of Intangible Heritage organised by Art Center Nabi in South Korea and UNESCO; the ‘Interactive 3D Installation of the Pavilion of Finland at the 1900 World Fair in Paris developed as part of the TEKES funded Hands On project; and the ‘Interactive 3D Reconstruction of Vrouw Maria, that was awarded a Special Mention of the Jury in the 2015 Europa Nostra digital cultural heritage competition research category.

Her latest research projects include the ‘Beyond Matter, Cultural Heritage on the Verge of Virtual Reality, a large-scale Creative Europe project coordinated by the Audio Visual Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe/ZKM, and the ‘Social cohesion, Participation, and Inclusion through Cultural Engagement, SPICE‘, an EU Horizon 2020 project dedicated to developing tools for Citizen Curation of cultural heritage. She has written over 100 publications in areas related to art, design, the ‘new’ media and heritage. Ubiquitous Computing, Complexity and Culture an anthology published by Routledge in 2015 and Adaptation and Convergence of Media published by Aalto ARTS Books in 2019  are among her latest results as an author.

Event information

This seminar will be followed by a drinks reception.

The room is wheelchair accessible. If you have specific accessibility needs for this event please get in touch. We will do our best to accommodate any requests.

Photo Lily Díaz-Kommonen, SPICE H2020 project workshop at Kustaankartano, 2023.

SPICE project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870811

The communication reflects only the author’s view and the Research Executive Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains

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