As big ideas go, they don’t get much bigger than The Giant Project, brainchild of Irish entrepreneur, Paddy Dunning.
It is a concept firmly rooted in the here and now. A cutting-edge visitor attraction forged in the crucible of the emerging social, cultural and business trends of the 21st century.
Part museum, part exhibition space, part philanthropic enterprise, part ongoing educational resource, it is a project that defies easy classification.
Thus far, Paddy Dunning (pictured left) and Eric Fraad of The Giant Company have been keeping it under wraps. With patents finally in place, they are ready to unveil their plans at the IAAPA Expo in Orlando.
The official unveiling of The Giant takes place at a press conference at the IAAPA Attractions Expo at 3:00 PM, 17th November 2015 in Room N230B.
They spoke to Blooloop about this most modern and innovative of projects.
“What is it? In its smallest iteration it’s a 10, 000 square foot box, ” explains Eric Fraad. “Inside that is an exhibition. And, then there’s this 10-storey giant on top. And, the giant is embedded with tens of thousands of LEDs, so it can become anything, instantaneously.
“It could be Albert Einstein. It could be the figures inside the exhibition. It can be men or women; it can be androgynous. It can be moving images; can be any representational art or abstract image. If there are multiple Giants, they can communicate with each other. You can text things to it.
“It’s a billboard and it’s a creative space.”
Paddy Dunning is not afraid of pushing boundaries. His international reputation for creating and managing innovative businesses won him the World Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2005. He successfully re-launched Ireland’s Wax Museum and runs a number of enterprises, including Grouse Lodge residential recording studios, where he lives. The studios, by chance, are situated near Lilliput. The area was renamed in the 18th century in honour of Jonathan Swift’s fictional island inhabited by tiny people in his book Gulliver’s Travels.
It was this connection that originally inspired The Giant Project. But, what began as a notional tribute to Swift evolved, in the hands of the team of experts Dunning brought together, into something more.
Eric Fraad (pictured right), innovative director, producer and cultural entrepreneur, owns record companies in both New York and in Ireland. When he brought a number of artists – Caitríona O’Leary, Tom Jones, Rosanne Cash & Rhiannon Giddens, among others – to Grouse Lodge to make an album (The Wexford Carols), Dunning introduced him to the idea that would become The Giant Project.
dan pearlman took Dunning’s initial vision and created a structurally sound, iconic piece of modern sculpture that can be customised to be relevant to any audience in any location with a sound underlying business proposition.
Stanley says, “The idea is exciting. It’s completely different from anything I’ve seen before. I believe what we’ve done is to create an attraction for the 21st Century.”
“We said let’s make an androgynous piece of beautiful sculpture that becomes a huge light box, ” explains Fraad.
Dunning adds, “There’s nothing like this at all. The Giant is going to be a celebration of the great and the good of each country or each city or each area where it’s located. We want to launch it in 20 cities around the world.
“It’s going to be the biggest moving statue in the world: the world’s biggest artistic sculptural project.”
Let them say that I walked with Giants.
The team is now seeking partners and expressions of interest from developers who want to attract people into a particular area, and who want to be involved in this iconic endeavour.
Unlocking Man’s Giant Potential
At 35 metres high, a moveable Giant will clearly have an impact on the city in which it is located. The team believes this impact will be positive and inspirational both in the wider context and on a personal level.
For the city, it is an advertising hoarding, an exhibition space, a moving sculpture, (it can move its head and arms, and lean forward and back), a showcase, a guardian: a benign, transformative giant watching over the inhabitants.
For the public, it is a source of education, entertainment and inspiration, as well as a front for a massive website that will connect with young people, igniting the spark of their potential.
“The concept deals with ‘giants’ on three levels, ” explains Fraad. “Firstly, giants from folklore and mythology. The giant-slayers – whether it’s David versus Goliath, whether it’s Odysseus versus Polyphenus, or the mouse versus the Gruffalo, the giant always represents the superlative forces of nature that can be overcome by the cunning, intelligence, creativity, imagination and sheer gumption of Man, the real giant.
“Then we used the giant as a metaphor. A giant can be a great person – an artist like Frida Kahlo. It can be Ryan Giggs, or Bruce Springsteen. It could be Michelangelo.
“The third, and most important level, is to awaken the giant in you – every person has human potential, and every person has the ability to become a giant.”
The Giant Foundation
Associated with this is The Giant Foundation, funded through donations from The Giant visitor attractions and private, public and corporate sponsors and donors.
“The Foundation focuses on young people and children in the region, also internationally, and will offer TED-type programmes and scholarships, and be of great use, ” says Fraad.
“For example, if the Giant takes advertising or sponsorship – and it is a phenomenal opportunity – some of that money will be diverted to the Foundation. It’ll pay for scholarships for kids. It’ll pay for programmes for children and young people.”
Giant Exhibition Space
The experience is bespoke for each location and can be adapted for different subjects and occasions.
In its normative state, the theme of the exhibition space will be based on the great and the good of that city or culture or region.
Successive sections will deal with aspects of the idea of a giant in original and engaging ways, beginning with the giants of folklore, with a focus on local stories, depending on how rich the folklore is in that area. (In Northern Europe, for example, giants are a common thread in folk tales.)
Then the visitor passes through a ‘vortex’ and the next part is dedicated to a giant of the region or country.
Fraad explains: “In the German version, you’re met by Albert Einstein. In England it could be Isaac Newton, or an animatronic Stephen Hawking, and some material could be projected onto the giant saying, size is relative. You don’t have to be huge to be a giant.
That’s an introduction into the part of the experience where one looks at inventions, technology, science.”
In this space, everything is larger than life, and information is presented in the context of fun.
“If it’s the first Mercedes Benz created in Germany, you get into the car and it takes you [virtually] through the streets of Berlin. If it’s a submarine it takes you underwater. Each invention is an attraction in itself. And, it’s culturally focused on that country or that city.”
The experience proceeds, through an immersive exploration of what constitutes greatness – embodied by the idea of a giant – aiming to unlock the giant within the individual. There are elements of science museum and gallery and theme park, with activities for everyone:
“And you can go as deep – or as shallow – into the matter as possible, according to choice. Or you can just walk around.”
At the end, you receive a certificate, and become part of the Giant Movement, an ongoing, engaging online experience.
On the roof there is a gift shop and the Fee Fi Fo Fum snack shack, where the team plan to work with international celebrity chefs from the region, to create fast food and street food that is both unique and amazing.
“Mostly, you go to these cafes and they suck, ” says Fraad. “The idea here is: if you like chips, I’m going to give you chips like you’ve never had before.
“The shop will have a selection of merchandise that’s creative, clever, desirable at all price points. You can get a scan of your entire body and buy a six-inch figure of yourself or a life-size one, if you wanted to spend thousands of dollars.
And we’ll work with local inventors and artists to create some really interesting and beautiful things.
If I have been able to see further, it was only because I stood on the shoulders of giants.
One particularly impressive element is the viewing platform at 30m, literally allowing visitors to stand on the giant’s shoulders, which is accessible by stairs or elevator. The platform features 3D augmented-reality telescopes which offer fascinating information about aspects of the view.
“It will be entertaining and fun – it’s educational, not boring or worthy, ” stresses Fraad.“I think the whole point is that even the plans we have now are tepid compared to what they will become. It needs to be like walking into the most visually rich environment you’ve ever experienced. It’s got to be sort of mind-blowing.
“We’re working with some really creative people. Kieran Stanley is the architect we’re working with, and we’re working with a team that will bring this experience to a completely different level.”
The Giant is a completely temporary structure, explains Fraad:
“It’s intrinsically un-invasive, in that it can, eventually, be removed without trace: there are no foundations drilled into the ground. It’s held up by a lot of concrete and steel.”
A concrete slab evenly distributes the load and provides a counter-weight to offset the effects of wind, uneven load and the movement of the giant, which can lean forward and back.
Dunning says: “We’ve built it in such a way that it can withstand earthquakes and high winds.
The wood is all recycled. We’re using products that have a low environmental impact, and are low carbon, and we’re using good working practice and good architecture – for instance, it’ll collect its own water. It’ll be solar. It’ll be green. So the Good Giant represents all that’s good – he’ll be fighting against climate change, and at the forefront of many good causes and green initiatives.”
While the team clearly has no shortage of ideas, they have been mindful of keeping costs realistic. In comparison to other visitor attractions around the world, Dunning maintains that they have brought The Giant Project in at a reasonable price: it will work out at around 9.5 to 16 million euros for turnkey operation.
“For a city to get something unique like this, that gives back to the city, for 15 million euros… there are apartments in New York that cost 15 million euros, ” he says.
Giant Revenue Potential
There will be the obvious economic benefits to the cities such as jobs and tourism. The Giant itself represents a number of possible income streams, the most obvious of which is advertising. While a proportion of this would go towards The Giant Foundation, the rest would be a lucrative income stream, and Dunning says the initial outlay would be justified relatively fast.
Another revenue spinner would be to interest people in the idea of having their picture up on the giant. If it’s your birthday, for example, then the Giant can, for a period defined by price, become you: “the biggest selfie on Earth, ” says Fraad.
The Giant team are at the stage of speaking with interested site owners in several cities including Berlin and Amsterdam.
“It’s gotten to the point where we’ve had meetings with very serious people, who own very serious properties, and they say – we want this here, ” says Fraad.
Of potential sites, Dunning says, “They don’t have to be capital cities – they just have to be cities that have potential, and that we will agree to locate this in because we think it will be a cultural success and a commercial success.”
“This is going to work, ” insists Dunning. “Every single person, whether it’s any of the CEOs that we’ve talked to, the very influential movers and shakers in the industry that have seen this, have said – this is a winner. This is the next wheel.
“If you ask a kid, ‘Do you want to come to the Giant?’ He or she’d say ‘Yes’. It’d never be ‘No’. That’s really important.
“You don’t have to explain what it is.”
It is the mark of a great man that he puts to flight all ordinary calculations. He is at once sublime and touching, childlike and of the race of giants.
The official unveiling of The Giant takes place at a press conference at the IAAPA Attractions Expo at 3:00 PM, 17th November 2015 in Room N230B. Contact email@example.com for details.