The Crystal building – a sustainable cities initiative by Siemens, located in London – features extensive audio-visual systems engineered and installed by Electrosonic.
The Crystal serves as home to Siemens’ Center of Competence – Cities, a team of multi-disciplinary urban experts. The 2,000sqm. (21,500sqft) 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.
In the “Forces of Change” exhibition zone, located in mezzanine area, an immersive black theatre uses 10 DLP projectors to present the challenges of Demographic Change, Urbanisation and Climate Change in short video loops. 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 55in touchscreen LCDs in portrait mode are sandwiched between poured concrete slabs. The Climate Change exhibit uses four embedded 32in touchscreen LCDs also in portrait format. The Demographic Change exhibit has a three-sided configuration with widescreen LCD touchscreens comprising two of the sides.
Visitors receive a RFID-tagged (radio frequency identification) 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 24in LCD touch terminals are capped by 55in 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 40in 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 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.
The Future Life zone, the finale of the exhibition, is centered on a 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 9m 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 19in 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.