The UK Parliament has launched a new 360° virtual reality tour of the historic interiors of the Palace of Westminster.
The new tour enables people to take a closer look at some of the most famous rooms in Parliament, including the medieval Westminster Hall and the iconic Commons and Lords debating Chambers.
Other highlights include St. Stephen’s Hall, where suffragettes chained themselves in protest in the early 20th century, and Central Lobby, the very heart of the building, where the public exercise their democratic rights by lobbying MPs.
The tour will become part of the Google Maps world alongside similar experiences for other well-known landmarks, including Buckingham Palace and the White House.
“We’re delighted that the Parliament will be sharing this beautiful imagery with everyone around the world through Google Maps and Street View. We hope the exquisite photography will entice even more people to explore the historic rooms and halls of this quintessential democratic institution,” said Google Street View’s Charles Armstrong.
The virtual tour has been developed for Parliament by Aardvark 360, who are specialists in creating interactive 360° imagery. The tour will also be available on the Parliament website, accessible either via a computer or mobile device. Accessing the tour in VR mode allows for an even more immersive experience using a virtual reality headset.
“Few locations are more prestigious or historic, or are so visually rich,” said Director of Aardvark 360, Jay Scott-Nicholls. “The huge spaces, vaulted ceilings and large-scale artworks can only properly be captured in 360. It’s thrilling to stand virtually in these familiar rooms, close enough to see the scratches on the despatch boxes and the creases in the leather seats. We are delighted to have been asked to work on the project.”
Visitors to London have been able to book a guided tour of Parliament for a number of years. However the virtual tour will open the Palace up to visitors who haven’t yet had the opportunity, allowing them to learn more about its fascinating history and encouraging them to visit in real life.
“Parliament belongs to the people, so it is only right that everybody should get the chance to experience it. The virtual tour means that people from all over Britain and, indeed, all over the world can visit Parliament and learn about our democratic institutions,” said Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow.
The VR tour provides historic information on key sites throughout the Palace.
“The virtual tour offers users the unique ability to be instantly transported to locations of historical, national and political importance. Through this technology, Parliament is now open to anyone every day of the week and we welcome this opportunity for the public to feel more connected to the House of Lords and experience standing in the Chamber where so much important work takes place,” said Speaker of the House of Lords, Lord Fowler.
Parliament’s 360° virtual tour is available on the UK Parliament website