Mobile Phone App Brings ANU History to Life

ANU Archives, photo from 1952

The beginnings of ANU are being showcased in a recently released smartphone app developed by Glasshouse Creative Media in collaboration with ANU Heritage.

The app, titled ANU OAA 360, which combines stills of the modern ANU landscape with historic photos, uses 360-degree photosphere technology to allow users to explore the Old Administrative Area of ANU.

Consisting of pre-fabricated huts, the ‘temporary’ buildings that made up the Old Administrative Area were described as resembling ‘a shed in a paddock’ by The Sydney Morning Herald in 1950. The weatherboard structures housed the first Chancelry, the first accounts offices and staff offices and laboratories, and saw numerous scientific and artistic advances – including Sir John Eccles’ 1963 Nobel Prize winning research in neurophysiology.

ANU Heritage commissioned the app in response to the last remaining building being knocked down late last year, making way for a new park area.

A spokesperson for the project said the app would ‘provide intimacy with the place’s history, without requiring proximity to the site’. They went on to say that ‘while the buildings may now be gone – they are certainly not forgotten’.

By engaging with the app, students, staff and community members will be able to virtually explore the inside and outside of the buildings. Users will also be able to learn about the establishment of the university, the foundation of its research schools, and the lives of its key players. Upon virtually entering buildings, photos from the ANU Heritage archives are displayed with information about and quotes from the subjects.

‘A Shed in a Paddock: The beginnings of our ANU’ is one of several virtual applications recently released by the ANU. Around ANU, which was made available early last year, showcases 360-degree views of different parts of campus such as Chifley Library and the John Curtin School of Medical Research.

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