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Helsinki and Tallinn host cutting-edge virtual conference

A Finnish-Estonian collaboration has given birth to a digital twin city.


The World Summit on Digital Built Environment (WDBE) will be held on a digital platform on 29–30 September, with the help of ZOAN, KIRAHub and Epic Games.

A virtual city combining the best of Helsinki and Tallinn will be the venue for urban development professionals this year. The annual conference will gather industry folk from over 50 countries to share their insights on the broad palette of sustainability challenges faced by urban areas around the world.

“Environmental and social sustainability pose many challenges for urban development, and we cannot tackle them without international collaboration,” told Hanna Harris, chief design officer at the City of Helsinki.

The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t managed to bring the organisers down, quite the contrary.

“Many global events in our industry have been cancelled or postponed, but because of our theme and the level of ambition we wanted to utilise this opportunity and start experimenting with scaling up the event digitally,” commented Teemu Lehtinen, CEO of non-profit organisation KIRAHub.

“Our mission in KIRAHub is to boost sustainable digitalisation of the built environment in Finland, and we believe that the time is now to really do it.”

Helping the organisers to realise the virtual venue are pioneering virtual reality studio ZOAN and video game and software giant Epic Games. The event will build on prior 3D modelling of Helsinki by ZOAN and Epic Games’ Unreal Engine and summon to life an immersive Illusion City, which can be accessed on all devices.

By: Samuli Ojala