Magical stories of talking animals, immortals, demons, and deities come to life through augmented reality.

AHA! (Augmented Heritage Adventure) revives the famed Qing Dynasty work of Zichuan-born writer Pu Songling: Liaozhai Zhiyi (聊斋志异), known in English as Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio. Pu Songling’s residence in Zichuan has been preserved as a tourist attraction, and now his five hundred fantastic tales find new life in a gamified augmented reality adventure.

Fiction, fantasy, technology, and historic preservation: this project was a collaboration with Yichen Jia and was a finalist in Non Architecture’s Reviving Shandong Mines competition.

Holograms of fantastic creatures interact with visitors, courtesy of GPS-enabled smart watches, enchanting the physical landscape: a tiger spirit prowls in the woods, a tipsy turtle prince languishes near the waterfall, and a talking fox breaks forth into charming conversation. Outdoor enthusiasts and digital natives alike will delight in Zichuan’s vast natural and virtual landscape.

Map of attractions

Caving, hiking, and climbing trails weave through digital checkpoints, and holographic characters accompany canoeists through a quarry-turned-lake. A traditional crafts academy pairs local craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology, intertwined with virtual reality instruction, hologram projectors, and digital fabrication.

Mixed reality and smart watch features

Empty mines are converted into sustainable and luxurious cave hotels; restaurants feed hungry stomachs and imaginations. As visitors converse with deities and marvel at exquisite local pottery through mixed-reality headsets, they are transported into a magical world.

Reality will never be the same again.