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A VIP open invitation for all Plymouth locals to explore Europe’s first-of-a-kind Immersive Dome – all in the heart of historic Devonport

A free to attend public open weekend at the Market Hall has been announced for 17/18 July 

The stunning transformation of one of Plymouth’s most significant and historic buildings will be open for everyone to witness on the 17th and 18th July as the Real Ideas Organisation showcases the contemporary re-imagining of the site, including the opportunity to experience one of only two world-class immersive domes for the very first time.  

Devonport’s market, when the area was known as Plymouth Dock, was at the end of Fore Street near the Dockyard gate. It was moved in 1762 to a new site, when stalls were erected on the site of some stagnant ponds. In 1835, the Royal Assent was given to the Devonport Market Act 1835, which authorised the enlargement of the Market and the establishment of a market for corn, grain and other articles, leading to the Market Hall being built in 1852. 

In 1940 the ARP (Air Raid Precautions) used the basement of the Market as a control room but it was damaged in the air raids of April 1941 and in 1951, the impressive building was taken inside the Royal Dockyard boundary in 1956 as part of the Navy’s post-war expansion.  

For the last four years, Plymouth’s Real Ideas Organisation, who are also responsible for the rejuvenation of the nearby Devonport Guildhall and now also run Ocean Studios in the Royal William Yard, have been completely re-imagining and transforming the building as a pioneering centre for digital arts.   

Developed in partnership with Plymouth City Council and the Institute of Digital Art and Technology at the University of Plymouth, the Market Hall is a £7.6m project which will create a new space for digital, especially those working in immersive and creative applications of technology. The project has been supported with funding from Arts Council England, the Department for Culture Media, Digital and Sport, and ERDF funding through the Heart of the South West LEP. All of this is new investment into Plymouth from national and European sources.  

The Market Hall’s immersive dome is the first of its type (15m diameter, 210 degrees over the top, with a flat floor) in Europe. The only other like it in the world can be found at SAT in Montreal, Canada.  

Needing just 2 projectors to cover the full surface of the dome, the tech at the Market Hall is cutting edge and creates a seamless shared virtual reality experience without the need for a headset. The bespoke sound system, boasting 19 channels of audio, encases the dome and adds to what is a truly immersive experience with the power to transport you anywhere in the universe – real or imagined – that you can dream of!  

The Real Ideas team have been waiting to throw open the doors and show the radical transformation to their surrounding Devonport neighbours and the communities of Devon and Cornwall.  And on Saturday the 17th and Sunday 18th July, this will finally happen, after the necessary COVID delays. 

Tickets will be available for the public to book from 10am on Monday 5th July online at www.realideas.org - with hourly slots for arrival times throughout the day and up to 6 tickets available per group for families and social bubbles.  As they tour the building, hundreds of people will be able to enjoy an immersive experience in the Market Hall dome, in a COVID safe way, for the very first time. There will also be the opportunity to have a tour of the Grade II listed building and enjoy food and drink from the on-site café. Due to COVID restrictions tickets must be booked in advance via the website.  

A smaller opening ceremony will take place on Thursday 15 June with special guests Sir Nick Serota, Chair of Arts Council England, the Earl and Countess of Devon, and Caroline Norbury, Chief Executive of Creative England, ahead of the public opening weekend.  

Lindsey Hall, Chief Executive of Real Ideas said: “We are ecstatic to be able to open the Market Hall to the public and share this incredible, imaginative and pioneering immersive space with all our neighbours and friends. It’s an open invitation to all and we’re delighted to showcase the gigantic immersive dome to all our visitors for free.  We had a brilliant experience when we opened The Guildhall to the local residents and communities and we can’t wait to see what people think of their first visit to the Market Hall and their first experience in the immersive dome.” 

Lindsey continues, ”This is a place for our extended Plymouth, and surrounding Devon and Cornwall, communities to connect, gather and share new experiences, so we are thoroughly delighted to welcome everyone in open doors opportunity.” 

Alongside cultural experiences and immersive opportunities in the Dome, the Market Hall will offer creative and collaborative workspace, learning, workshops, meeting rooms, event spaces, a production suite and a café/bar.  

The Market Hall joins the growing Real Ideas campus of spaces including Ocean Studios and Devonport Guildhall in Plymouth and CSpace in Newquay.  

To find out more visit www.realideas.org/market-hall and follow @real_ideas_organisation and @themarkethallUK on Instagram  

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