Coventry University has unveiled plans for a design laboratory, believed to be the first of its kind in any university in the world.
The £1.5 million Coventry University Advanced Digitisation and Modelling Workshop, scheduled for completion by December next year, will allow the university to extend the range of its automotive design and modelling research.
It is also expected to provide an array of research spin-offs for designers and artists interested in computer modelling.
The two-storey building will incorporate a full-size, drive-in 3D digitising bay, where models of cars and other objects can be turned into computer designs that can be manipulated by researchers. The altered design could be turned into a full-size clay model through a sculpting process that could be automated.
A digitising and full-size projection and modelling space will be linked to existing physical model finishing workshops in an adjacent building.
The laboratory will house a computer-aided styling studio and a digital production theatre and also provide a base for the university's Design Institute.
Researchers using the facilities will draw on the combined strengths of Coventry's schools of art and design, of engineering and of mathematical and information sciences.
Clive Richards, Coventry's associate dean of art and design, said that while some of the larger automotive firms had similar facilities, they were not available in any other higher education institution or any of the smaller more specialist automotive firms that worked in collaboration with the university.
"These facilities will be exciting for students and researchers who will gain first-hand experience of working using the novel and inventive approaches that the laboratories make possible.
"There may also be attractive spin-offs for art and design in general. Sculptors are very interested, and it might even be possible to digitise people and animate them," he said.