Spectra Cities

A virtual catalyst for urban experimentation.


Creating an opensource city for the future.
Using XR technologies to expedite city planning through rapid prototyping and bottom up design.

Featured in "7 ways creators are using Unity
beyond games" by Unity Blog.


VR/AR spatial concepts, urban design, visual design, prototyping

All images are used with permission of Spectra Studios LLC

See process ⇣

1. Overview

What would a city looks like if we can test and validate design strategies before
building them in physical space?

How can Augmented Reality be implemented at an urban level that goes beyond novelty
and starting to shape public spaces and urban interaction?

What does a Minimum Viable City look like?

Minimum Viable City

At the begin, the city would only include the most essential parts, which we called the block, a space for the inhabitants. Virtual Spectra is set up for spatial experimentation over time, and mean to accelerate the urban development process.

User testing especially at an urban scale is not possible without the space being constructed first. We see a great opportunity to get feedbacks on new urban experiences utilizing the spatial immersion of VR, before costly construction.

As the virtual community grows to a certain size, AND the urban experiment has proven to reach a desirable result, only then that a physical city is funded and slated for construction.

Virtual Spectra then will acts as a digital copy or twin of Physical Spectra. This process would then be repeated for the next city.

2. My role

I was brought on the Numena team for my spatial design expertise which has proven highly compatible with Virtual Reality development. As part of a small team, I wore different hats throughout the lifespan of the project, including the following: spatial & urban design, VR prototyping, visual design and project managing. Some of these roles are highlighted below.

Spatial Prototyping & Iteration

Design ideas are generated in Rhino and got implemented in VR through Unity. Virtual reality enabled our team to evaluate different spatial arrangements at 1:1 scale, even at early concept stage. We also meet with the client in VR to discuss the design options. This workflow allows us to move quickly through design iterations.

Beyond that, we see VR as a potential method of user testing space and urban experience as the Spectra community grows with the project.

Urban AR Concepts

Given the scale of Spectra, we see an opportunity to explore how Augmented Reality can be be implemented to enhance the urban experience.

We developed a game concepts around digital creatures that players can grow, chase and collect.
Through the use of AR glasses, players in physical Spectra can also interact with these creatures.

Augmentation can be use to spatially activate large scale public areas.
Specifically, we explored how it can alter collective experience of a concert by streaming different instances from remote physical locations into one space.

Visual Concepts

After the initial round of design, I was also involved with strategizing most effective way to communicate the vision of Spectra to potential stakeholders and the general public. The results of this process are a series of of diagrams, images collection as well as photorealistic renders. Together, they convey a robust vision that hopefully resonate with other designers and community members to collaborate on the project.

To learn more about Spectra Cities, visit the project website here.

3. Next step

Ramen Mania is still a work in progress. I am planning on working on these area next:

UI and different levels of difficulty

While it is fun to catch an infinite amount of food, players would eventually get bored. Adding UI elements such as a timer or current scores would get the player motivated. Also players need a way to modify the difficulty of the game ( how fast the food are falling, or how many cleavers there are).

Environment design and custom assets

A pink plane might works for a prototype however, I want to further develop the game art's direction through level designs and creating custom assets.

Other works


VR . game