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Since September 2010 Christchuch has been hit by a number of large earthquakes and a lot of the inner city has been demolished to make way for reconstruction. Even for people who have lived in Christchurch all their lives it is difficult to walk through the earthquake damaged city and remember what buildings used to be there.

CityViewAR is a mobile Augmented Reality application that allows people to see how the city was before the earthquakes and building demolitions. Using an Android mobile phone people can walk around the city and see life-sized virtual models of what the buildings looked like on site before they were demolished, and see pictures and written information. Hundreds of 3D models of key city buildings have been made available from architect Jason Mill of ZNO, while the Christchurch City Council and Historic Places Trust have provided photographs and building histories.


CityViewAR is based on the HIT Lab NZ Android AR platform which uses the GPS and compass sensors of mobile phones to enable virtual information to be overlaid on live video of the real world. Android AR makes it easy for Android developers to build their own outdoor AR applications. The software was previously used for showing individual buildings, but this is the first time that it has been used to show dozens of buildings at once, and the first time in world that mobile phone AR has been used for earthquake reconstruction.


Future work on the app will allow users to add their own feedback on the buildings shown, so architects and urban planners can use the tool to get input from people about their proposed designs. Additional histroical data could be included to allow people to go back in time and see what used to be at locations 50 or 100 years ago. It is also anticipated that the system could be connected to more traditional GIS viewing software, to enable other data sets to be shown, such as utility information. Ongoing research could lead to a mobile AR platform that could be quickly deployed in response to a natural disaster and provide invaluable on-site information.


The application can be downloaded from both Google Play and App Store by searching for ‘CityViewAR’, or clicking the store badges below.


People who are not in Christchuch can still see the content as if they were there by enabling fake GPS location feature in the app.

While the app itself is intuitive and self-explaining, for more details and tips on how to use the app, please have a look at the user guide.


The CityViewAR contents are also available as a Junaio channel. To view the channel you need to download the Juanio Application from the Apple App store or the Android market. Visit the Junaio website for the download links:

Once you have the Junaio application, you can search for the “CityViewAR” to find our channel. You would be able to view the 3D models of the buildings or view the locations on a map, and browse additional content containing facts and pictures related to each building. For further information on how a Junaio channel works, visit the following link:


18 May 2013 - iOS version released

3 March 2012 - v1.5  with following features:
- Panorama images showing building damaged by the Earthquake
- Over 100 buildings with 3D models
- More viewpoints for viewing AR view, to which you could also fake your location.

8 December 2011 - v1.0 released to the public


The application was developed at the Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Canterbury.

CityViewAR Android version development Team @ HIT Lab NZ:
Mark Billinghurst, Raphael Grasset, Gun Lee, Leigh Beattie, Tim Hobbs, Seungwon Kim, Alaeddin Nassani, Rohit Sharma, Sophia Grey, Kamaran Noori, Rozhen Mohammad-Amin, Rob de Voer.

CityViewAR iOS version development Team @ HIT Lab NZ:
Mark Billinghurst, Gun Lee, Samuel Williams

CityViewAR iOS version development Team @ Hairy Lemon:
Mike Walker and Anna Walser

You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter !

Contents contributed by:

The New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)
Underground Overground Archaeology Ltd
Christchurch City Council
CEISMIC Project, University of Canterbury
Christchurch City Libraries
Auckland City Libraries
National Library of New Zealand
Kete Christchurch
and other personal contributors
(including Ross Becker, Robert Cutts, Dave Jacson, Lee Hanner, Mo-mo, Moata Tamaira, hytam2, CityScape)

Special thanks to:
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA)
Re:Start 29.10.11 Project



This project is partially sponsored by: Vodafone New Zealand Ltd



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