“The “roaring 2020s” have propelled the world into the future of work, and organisations must innovate or be left behind.”

Australian Homeowners looking to improve their living conditions often wonder
- should I Renovate or Rebuild?

Viewport XR developed a platform for Nine Network’s Renovate or Rebuild series – produced and created by James McGregor from Blue Tribe Co; the show seeks to answer this commonly asked question through an eco-focused lens.

Our relationship with Blue Tribe Co started in 2019 – as Australia’s best virtual reality studio, we were the first studio consulted. Filmed in Sydney, NSW, we brought the pilot episode to life using VR, allowing the contestants to explore the interiors of the homes in ultra-high fidelity and high realism. 

When the inaugural season of Renovate or Rebuild was announced, Viewport XR was still Australia’s most active Virtual Reality studio. However, by this point, technology had changed. Always ahead of the curve, Viewport XR had already made a name as Australia’s leading HoloLens and augmented reality AR developers. 

This insight led us to suggest using mixed reality for the first series – Microsoft’s emerging HoloLens 2 tech was poised to make waves, and we knew it was the perfect fit as the judging platform for reviewing the home designs on the sustainability-minded show.

Further benefits of HoloLens and Augmented Reality

  • Increased connectivity with remote collaboration
  • Iterate design faster with interactive multi-user holographic design review
  • Connect senior specialists with on-site personnel anywhere in the world
  • Travel, Incidentals, & Operational Cost Savings

Creating a judgment platform for an Australian home improvement television series does not happen in a vacuum. The project had an intense timeline and many different stakeholders. Viewport worked with 10+ of Australia’s leading architects over an ever-evolving landscape of design changes to create the platform and the photoreal renders. 

Australia's best architecture visualisations

Visualisation of architectural spaces and designs has always been a major issue for architects and building designers around Australia – from Perth to Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane. For the past 20 odd years, this problem of visualisation and conceptualisation from 2D and even 3D plans was often remedied with architectural renders (still images and animations, or ‘fly throughs’ – which Viewport also supplied over 4 minutes of HD and over 50 4K images for this television series.) 

The show’s producer, James McGregor, was looking for a way to showcase visualisations of entire designs, that exceeded the possibilities of fixed angles, while enabling a collaborative method for the judges to review them. 

The vision was for each episode to conclude with judges reviewing the respective two designs. However, the limitations of all 2D options (CG renders and CAD models) were that they did not facilitate holistic views or the ability for judges to interact with them simultaneously.

HoloLens 2 Sustainability goals

Renovate or Rebuild’s focus was on sustainability and eco-friendly housing. A report released by Forrester in November 2021, (The Total Economic Impact™ Of Mixed Reality Using Microsoft HoloLens 2) explains that in addition to avoiding the need for travel, the HoloLens 2 “reduces rework and errors, and minimises use of consumables and PPE.” Making it an easy choice for its reduction of collateral and waste – and perfectly in line with our client’s vision and the core message in the architectural designs and narrative of Renovate or Rebuild.

AR Headsets provide a view of the world around you through clear lenses, which we can then ‘augment’, displaying any manner of information and overlays on top of your real view. 

Using the live database and 3D model, combined with AR Ground Plane and Image Recognition technology – can spatially locate any on-site user and provide up to date, interactive plans of all the architectural designs they look at. All are displayed directly in front of their eyes.

We translated the HoloLens user experience into a viewer experience by using an extra headset to capture this ‘Holo-Deck’. Showing people watching at home the exact same database and live 3D model the platform distributed to headsets. Viewers saw a first-person view of the full plans as miniature 3D models overlaid on the show’s presenters, straight from their televisions without the need for AR headsets or tablets.

Look into possible futures
with Extended Reality (XR)

Elevating these designs into the mixed reality space allowed the judges to interact as a group, even the homeowners, providing a tech-forward solution to reviewing and dissecting the designs.

We designed a system that would display the renovate design option next to the rebuild design option. The Microsoft HoloLens 2 allowed a user to reach out – using their own hands, with no controllers- and grab elements of the architectural model to pick them up, move them around, scale them with two hands and rotate them to get better views of key elements.  Just like a dollhouse, they could remove the roof and have a look at the second floor, or they could remove the second floor and have a look at the first floor, and so on.

We kept the visuals in line with physical architectural ‘white-card’ models, and highlighted interior furniture and interior design aspects with an overlay of the floor layout. Importing the architectural models from 10+ architects in the short timeline means we were receiving Revit, Sketchup, Archicad and a handful of other different file types. Once imported they went through a rigorous polygonal cleanup and optimisation stage in 3ds Max. They were then exported to Unity, and light-baked before being imported into the custom software we created.

This solution was a world first – not just Perth, not just Australia – the world.
A first for the technology, a first for television, and a first for the building industry. Renovate or Rebuild was the first syndicated television program that used Microsoft HoloLens 2.

Industry-Leading Technology

What are benefits of the Microsoft HoloLens 2 & AR

  • Innovate at the leading edge
  • Deploy MR to additional departments and roles
  • Enhance Client Experience
  • Redesign business processes
  • Speed up decision-making
  • Conduct mixed reality inspections

The use of the HoloLens tech was fully integrated into the flow of the series – the show was not a feature on the Microsoft HoloLens 2, it was not an article, or a news piece, or even a buzz piece. We intended it to converge with the show, to champion the architectural designs.

So while it wasn’t the main event, such an avant-garde technical solution definitely added a point of intrigue with a massive effect

Because no other television show had yet attempted this, nor had any other Australian VR/AR/XR digital studio attempted this complexity, let alone in such a rapid turnaround. 

Intuitive & Easy to Use

The experience is extremely intuitive, this was proven by the fact that during one of 2021’s many lockdowns, Renovate or Rebuild’s production team were able to send the devices to people in their own homes. Without any training, these individuals were able to competently operate the platform, their sessions were then used as part of the tv show.

It’s this ease of use that Viewport XR drive into all our products which stems from our user-first design methodology. We seek to understand how useful a specific technology will be for each individual client, rather than just throwing technology at a problem for technology’s sake. 

In this instance, the key benefit of augmented reality head-mounted devices – or HMDs – is that they allow you to be wherever you are, in a shared experience. Facebook uses the term “eyes up”, Microsoft opts for “heads-up”, both of these evoke an active state of being untethered, hands-free and present. 

It’s Just Getting Started

Renovate or Rebuild season 1 will be screened on two networks under the Nine umbrella, as well as on their streaming platform, 9Now.

The series had a huge online following and created a massive buzz on Facebook, not only for its fantastic use of integrating technology seamlessly into the narrative but for also delivering a crucial message about sustainability

Given this success, it is natural that Viewport XR has already begun talks with the show’s producers for season two.

The team at Viewport are proud to be involved with Blue Tribe Co and Microsoft HoloLens 2 for Renovate or Rebuild season 2.

Mixed reality on HoloLens
gives unparalleled
perspective & experience.
No other technology comes close.

― Corporate Controls Manager,
INTL Construction & Engineering Group


of consumers believe AR can bring them benefits. 

Augmented Reality helps audiences understand.

– Maryland University

At Viewport XR we have a saying:
A good User Interface is like a joke.
If you have to explain it – it’s not very good.