When the Crystal, a sustainable cities initiative by the global electronics and electrical engineering powerhouse Siemens, opened at London’s Royal Victoria Dock, it showcased what’s billed as “the world’s largest exhibition dedicated to the future of cities.” Designed and produced by Event Communications, the exhibition features extensive audio-visual systems engineered and installed by Electrosonic.
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The Crystal serves as home to Siemens’ Center of Competence – Cities, a team of multi-disciplinary urban experts. The 2, 000 sq.m. (21, 500 sq. ft.) interactive exhibition guides visitors through the urban infrastructure of the future by examining the possibilities for sustainable mobility, building technologies, power and water supplies and healthcare.
The Forces of Change
The theme “Forces of Change” is announced when visitors enter the exhibition and are directed to the mezzanine level. There, an immersive black box theatre uses ten DLP projectors to create a dynamic presentation displaying the challenges of Demographic Change, Urbanisation and Climate Change in short video loops.
The presentation’s unique display surface covers an end wall and carpets most of the floor. The projected images are sourced, blended and warped to fill the screen without distortion and are accompanied by a powerful multi-channel soundtrack.
Outside the black box theatre, three touchscreen exhibits further explore the challenging Forces of Change. In the Urbanisation exhibit, four 55-inch touchscreen LCDs in portrait mode are sandwiched between poured concrete slabs. The Climate Change exhibit uses four embedded 32-inch touchscreen LCDs also in portrait format. The Demographic Change exhibit has a three-sided configuration with widescreen LCD touchscreens comprising two of the sides.
Traversing The Zones
Visitors receive a RFID-tagged card for the exhibition. The idea is that visitors collect a “crystal” at each exhibit, which appears on the tag reader as illuminated coloured indicators showing which zones the visitors have already seen.
One of the first stops is the Creating Cities zone where the “Cities Icon” takes centre stage. Crafted from LED panels, it displays a series of images received from the control room. Other exhibits in the zone include the “Understanding Cities” interactive display and the multi-user “City Game” whose four 24-inch LCD touch terminals are capped by 55-inch repeater displays.
The Safe and Sound zone looks at protecting the city and addresses topics such as fire prevention, rapid response to incidents and crowd control. The “Fire Prevention” exhibit structure, composed of ArtBoard modules provided by Light Emissions, features giant, cut-out lettering on the modules spelling words related to the security theme, such as trust, peace of mind, shield and care. Three interactive terminals enable visitors to discover the causes of fires; visitors’ responses modify a big, curved low-resolution LED display of flames.
The Smart Buildings zone is dominated by a cube-shaped space in which three sides display five-metre wide projected images. In front of each is a 40-inch LCD touchscreen, which invites visitors to create their own sustainable buildings and watch them constructed on the displays. Another exhibit shows what makes the Crystal a sustainable building by using two touchscreen displays and an array of LED indicators to reveal real time statistics about the Crystal’s rainwater recycling, heat pump efficiency and solar energy performance.
The Clean and Green zone features a dramatic centerpiece composed of a living wall of vegetation. Because the wall keeps the plants sufficiently wet, Electrosonic provided two IP65-rated LCD touchscreens to ensure reliable operation. The Water is Life zone includes displays about harvesting rainwater, desalination and recycling waste water. The Health Life zone focuses on staying healthy, personalised medicine and reducing healthcare costs.
The main interactive in the Go Electric zone is a spectacular gesture-operated exhibit, which includes a Tesla coil spark display within a Faraday cage. The Keep Moving zone emphasises the role of electrically-powered transport in a number of LCD and interactive displays.
A Peek Into the City of the Future
The Future Life zone, the finale of the exhibition, is centered on an optimistic panoramic show “Enter the City of the Future, ” which shows how cities could look and operate if ideas presented in the Crystal were to be applied. The show is displayed on a nine-metre curved screen by three DLP projectors with short-throw zoom lenses.
This zone also includes terminals where visitors can review their tour based on the data accumulated using their RFID card. The “What Do Today’s City Leaders Think?” exhibit offers comments from city leaders from around the world.
Both the introduction and finale shows use 7th Sense servers as the image sources. They provide both synchronous multi-channel replay and image “blending and bending”. All other sources are DVS products: DVS Blade players for simple video replay and DVS video computers for the interactives. They are mounted in twelve 19-inch racks in a dedicated control room.
Medialon Showmaster has a comprehensive control interface and scheduler for full control of individual exhibits, along with global power up/down facilities to enhance the building’s green energy credentials. The Showmaster is supplemented by a Stumpfl Show Controller.
The Crystal was designed by Wilkinson Eyre, Architects with Pringle Brandon the interior/fit out architect. Exhibit fabrication was by The Hub; content for the AV and interactive exhibits was created by ISO, All of Us, Clay, Squint Opera, Spirit Link, B12 and Siemens Software. “Forces of Change” was produced by Event Communications; the “City Game” was developed by Siemens. Exhibition lighting design was by DHA Design.
Electrosonic is an international audio-visual company that creates tailored, state-of-the-art solutions for a wide range of markets including theme parks, museums, control rooms, and corporate meeting rooms. Since its founding in 1964, Electrosonic has built a strong reputation for working on complex projects, both large and small, and has developed lasting partnerships with customers and suppliers. Beyond complete integrated systems, Electrosonic provides a comprehensive scope of services including technical design, projector lamp sales, maintenance and operational support. Learn more about Electrosonic. Visit http://www.electrosonic.com.