Alkymi: Digital Historic Preservation

Using AI and AR to connect consumers to the historical significance of spaces
Project: PRADA “Shaping a Sustainable Digital Future”2018

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To utilize new digital technologies in pursuit of positive societal or environmental impact

Conceptualized as a product, service, channel, or even business model, our idea seeks to enhance sustainable societal development by applying augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) in innovative, scalable ways.


Use AR to create immersive site-specific experiences, specifically in historical areas facing new development or adaptive reuse. With the help of AI, our concept would uncover data on the location’s historical, cultural, and environmental identity. The resulting mobile-enabled platform, Alkymi, would weave the site’s rich past life into its modern reimagining, and would enable visitors to engulf themselves in the evolving legacy of the space.  

The proposal highlights three potential use cases: 

  • Museums / Exhibition spaces / Artists’ studios – Zeitz MOCAA, Capetown, South Africa 

  • Retail spaces / Multi-use complexes – House of Vans, London, UK

  • Parks / Public spaces – Highline, Chelsea, NYC 

Immersive experience through AR

Immersive experience through AR

Stakeholder map

Stakeholder map

Multiple stakeholders would benefit from this platform including:

  • City or state governments that manage mixed-use, potentially brownfield, historical redevelopments where there is interest in highlighting the historical value of the space to increase visitor traffic and time spent.  

  • Brands that value the preservation of historical structures as well as sustainable practices and have chosen to breathe life into old structures when building their headquarters or new store locations. This could provide a way for brand storytelling while also driving foot traffic. 

  • Real estate developers who would like to attract similar brands or win bids for developments for cities interested in sustainable or historical preservation. 

  • Architecture firms that work on these adaptive reuse sites and want to showcase their work.  

Our proposed platform encourages cultural sustainability and environmental awareness while still recognizing the need for value creation and the importance of companies’ bottom lines. I believe Alkymi would not only promote adaptive reuse and historic preservation, but also serve as a nudge towards conservation as users have repeated, intimate opportunities to envision their own impact in the world. While celebrating the past, Alkymi would have an eye toward the future, and preserve the present.