Leading experiential design agency MET Studio has created an exciting 3D brand experience exhibit for EDF, the official partner of and electricity supplier to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, housed in a purpose-built Pavilion (designed by architects Schmidhuber) within the London 2012 Olympic Park. MET Studio joined a team of leading European creatives on the project, including Schmidhuber and event management company Iluka, who co-ordinated the overall project on behalf of EDF.
The 600 sq m Pavilion – a giant, semi-open tensile structure made of recyclable materials and covered in a perforated mesh -is sited next to the main athletics stadium on the site and was created to stand for the duration of the games, from the opening ceremony right through to the end of the Paralympics on September 9th 2012.
The MET Studio team was briefed to showcase and celebrate EDF’s involvement with London 2012. ‘The over-arching theme’, explained MET Studio Associate Peter Karn, ‘was to communicate to visitors how essential electricity is to our everyday lives. Every exhibit and graphic within the Pavilion links back to our experience of electricity at a human level and this forms the organising principle behind the exhibit.’
The visitor experience begins outside the Pavilion in the approach area, where four huge-scale totems are located. One features a welcome message, another a greeting from a young girl who is to become the ‘host’ of the indoor experience and the final two feature two athletes from the games (Team GB cyclist Victoria Pendleton and French swimmer Yannick Agnel). Visitors are given instructions on how to download and use a special augmented-reality phone App which allows them to take a real-time, highly-realistic photo with the athlete, which appears to show the athlete walking out of the totem towards the visitor. The App then has many further features which can be used within the interior experience. These include holding the phone up to images which come to life and play videos.
Once inside, the brand experience begins with a short film commissioned by EDF and art-directed by MET Studio, with direction by Gary Shaw, which runs on a timed-entry loop on a semi-circular, 140 degree wraparound screen. The film centres on the dreams of a young girl who wants to be an Olympic athlete and shows how electricity brings her dream to life via television and the internet, or its use in powering athletics’ training or powering the Olympics stadium itself. At the heart of the film, human emotion and aspirations are featured rather than more technological explanations of electricity production.
The interior of the Pavilion is dominated by a massive, 60m-long ribbon structure, made of a steel and tensile sub-frame with a digitally-printed fabric cladding, featuring a story on each side. The shape of the ribbon is inspired by EDF’s occasion-specific branding for the Olympics, representing the flow of electricity. As well as flowing through the space with visitor access to either side, the ribbon also dramatically sweeps up to the 6m-high ceiling at the far end in order to wrap around and highlight the second major internal feature of the Pavilion – the interactive area.
The two-sided ribbon narrative begins with a typical story of human electrical consumption on a 24-hour timeline during an Olympic day, with the young girl from the film depicted once more as she wakes up, takes breakfast, showers and so on. The storyline covers home life, work, industry, transport and leisure, with a parallel story of electrical consumption and underlying messages of sustainable living and how to conserve electricity in day-to-day life. The graphic wall also features pools of directional sound relating to the information, which streams constantly as visitors walk beneath, with the Olympics an ever-present theme throughout. A line of integrated LED lights illuminates the pattern and line of consumption during the depicted day.
The obverse side of the ribbon is given over to information on EDF, demonstrating the company’s innovative approach to meeting consumer demand; examining the company’s leading role in outreach work and community-based projects as well as the company’s Sustainable Design Challenge, which rewards designers creating products or projects with a high-level sustainable agenda.
The interactive area, bordered by the high-twisting ribbon, centres on a giant funnel structure reaching up to the ceiling, which forms the central core of the space. Graphics on the outside of the interactive area can be brought to life using the augmented reality app (as per the external totems).
‘We worked closely with the architects from Schmidhuber from the outset’ explained Peter Karn, ‘to ensure that these major internal structural elements were properly integrated, forming part of a seamless experience for visitors.’
The funnel is a steel structure clad in strips of RBG LED lighting, effectively creating a 3D video screen, which responds to action around it, giving visitors control over its lighting effects. An educational message behind the funnel centres on the concept of ‘generation mix’, which relates to the different sources of supply EDF has to use and redistribute (including nuclear processes, fossil fuels and alternative energy sources) in order to meet demand. The funnel is surrounded by a number of fun interactives, from pedal-power to a dancefloor that generates electricity. The harder visitors work – and crucially, the more of them at the same time – the more the funnel lights up and the more complex the integrated layered musical track becomes, until the 100% peak challenge is reached. The underlying message is how much achievement can be boosted by teamwork – a very Olympian theme!
A hidden mezzanine level with a discrete entrance was designed by Schmidhuber for EDF to use for corporate engagements and includes WiFi, conference call facilities and reception, bar and lounge facilities.
Hubert Blanquefort, director of the EDF Pavilion project, commented ‘We’re really pleased with the response from visitors to the EDF Pavilion. We want to share the magic of electricity through a really fun approach – the dance pads, using hand pedals to power thousands of LED lights – and everyone has really got into that. We have designed the building to be modern and sustainable making the best use of up to date, energy-efficient technology. It’s all about entertaining, informing and inspiring our visitors. We’ve had lots of families finding out about low carbon energy and it’s been great to meet so many people here for the Games.’