Digital Future of Devonport

Jun 23, 2015

Open day showcases Plymouth’s brightest digital talent

Plymouth’s leading digital companies and educational institutions came together to demonstrate what Devonport’s Market Hall will bring to the city when it opens next year.

The Digital Futures open day, held at Devonport Guildhall on Saturday (20 June), gave visitors a chance to see latest plans for the development of the Market Hall asa digital centre for arts, community activity, enterprise and visitors.

Partners involved in the project brought the latest digital technologies to the event for members of the public to experience for themselves. These included an inflatable 360 degree projection dome, Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets, electronic bird making and several other digital installations and hands on workshops.

Students from City College Plymouth demonstrated two computer games created especially for the event, Bread Run and Sweet Space. The students have been taking part in a Creative Skills Initiative organised through RIO to give them practical work experience alongside their studies.

The refurbishment of Devonport Market Hall is being led by social enterprise RIO (the Real Ideas Organisation) in partnership with Plymouth City Council, the Institute of Digital Arts and Technology (i-DAT at Plymouth University), City College Plymouth, Devonport High School for Boys and seven of the brightest tech companies in the region.

Lindsey Hall, CEO of RIO said: “Devonport Market Hall will be a fantastic, unique, world class digital arts, enterprise and technology facility when it opens in late 2016. The aim of the Digital Futures open day is to give people their first glimpse of the amazing talent and technology it will house. There are some brilliant digital companies in Plymouth and it’s a real shame that much of their work is invisible to most people in the city, especially young people, who don’t realise the job opportunities that exist right here. The Market Hall has stood empty for decades. It is fitting that together we have found an appropriate, sustainable, ambitious new use to bring it back to life – a 21st century type of market that is all about communication, exchanging ideas and a focal point for the community in Devonport.”

The event was sponsored by housing developer Redrow, which funded the £500,000 restoration of the Market Hall and clock tower.

The building, built in 1852 but left derelict for many years, will become a digital centre for arts, community activity and enterprise. In addition to providing office, lab and teaching space for the partners, the Market Hall will also offer space for events and meetings, a range of education programmes and a digital arts visitor centre.

Leader of Plymouth City Council Tudor Evans said: “The regeneration of Devonport is an ongoing challenge but change is happening on a daily basis and it’s great to see the progress that has been made in recent years. The regeneration will boost the local economy, create jobs and create futures, and the Market Hall will be a key part of that. Digital technology is one of the critical sectors identified by Plymouth City Council, and is vitally important because it means the city is connected and can put us right at the heart of the global economy. I am proud to be working in partnership with RIO on the development of the Market Hall, which once completed will give more people the inspiration and the opportunity to achieve great things.”

Plymouth University’s Institute of Digital Art and Technology (i-DAT) is one of the partners involved in the Market Hall development, and many of the people now running digital companies in Plymouth are i-DAT alumni.

Birgitte Aga, Creative Director of i-DAT at Plymouth University added: “The Digital Futures open day gave i-DAT a chance to demonstrate some of the exciting work for which we have become internationally renowned, such as real-time data visualisations in our fulldome 360 degree immersive projection spaces, that is also currently being exhibited around the world. The Market Hall offers the potential for a public facing R&D lab, which can benefit the wider digital sector and help with public engagement. It will also play an important role in retaining talent in the city – Plymouth is emerging as the wild card for digital innovation and cool, but needs a focal point, an incubating space, which the Market Hall will provide.”

For the latest information on the Devonport Market Hall development, click here.