The £7.2m project will extend and transform the Grade II listed Market Hall in Devonport, Plymouth to become a centre for research in virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies.
The 820 m2 extension will house an exhibition centre with a dome shaped virtual reality cinema. The 15-metre diameter structure will allow an audience of 150 to watch a cinematic virtual reality experience. Sports matches, concerts and films could be shown at the Market Hall, with the screen fully surrounding visitors.
There will also be a cultural, corporate events space with seating for up to 350 people and an expo capacity of 600.
Work is set to start in spring 2018 and open to the public in late 2019.
Anthony Irving, managing director of Kier Construction Western & Wales, said: “This innovative cinema experience at Market Hall is the first of its kind in Europe and we are thrilled to play a part in making Plymouth a national leader in digital innovation.”
RIO chief executive Lindsey Hall said: “The expertise of the Kier team, having handled other high-profile cultural developments, will play a key role in creating a truly world-class centre for immersive technologies, with an iconic cinematic VR experience. We’re looking forward to breaking ground in the coming weeks and getting this incredibly exciting landmark project under way.”