MCM group won an international competition for designing and building a children’s exploratorium in Qatar two years ago. The Kahramaa Awareness Park is located in the capital city of Qatar and expected to be open to the public in the end of 2015.
As an interactive experience center with amusement facilities and shows for children aged 4 to 18, it allows children to explore sustainable life. After facing numerous difficulties, MCM provided a solution for design, construction, installation and training.
Why does Qatar need to build a water and electricity awareness park?
Michael: Qatar has the highest energy and water consumption per person in the world. Because the nation is a desert, that is both costly and contributes to global warming. The national government decided it was important to educate their population in water and power conservation. They elected to create a world-class $100 million Conservation Exploratorium to educate, in an engaging and entertaining way (edutainment), their local citizens on water and power issues in the hopes of significantly reducing their per capita consumption and lowering the nation’ s carbon footprint.
How did MCM design this project?
Michael: Our strength is in designing exhibits and attractions that both educate and entertain. We designed a dark ride (one of the few in an Exploratorium in the world), to showcase the water cycle; a 3-D domed theater experience to illustrate how water was created on earth; and thirty different interactive exhibits and attractions to demonstrate all of the various issues around water and energy production and conservation.
Our objective was to create a personalized experience in the facility, thus creating a direct and personal connection to global warming issues. When visitors enter, they sign in at an electronic kiosk and the machine prints a personalized membership card for them. As the go to each exhibit they place their membership card on the interactive exhibit screen and the exhibit greets the visitor by name. This not only creates a personal connection but allows school groups as well to track the activities of their students throughout the Exploratorium.
The central server our in-house team designed tracks all of the actions and scores of the visitors and allows them to continue being involved in the Exploratorium’s conservation programs on their mobile phones or computers. As the visitor leaves we have a pledge kiosk where students are given an opportunity to pledge their lifestyle changes to reduce their carbon footprint and receive a personalized pledge certificate of their visit and changes to their water and electric consumption habits.
What was the most difficult part of the project? How did you deal with it?
Michael: This was a design, build, install and train contract. That meant that we not only had to conceive the attractions and research the supporting data; we had to design and supervise the fabrication of everything as each piece was custom made; we then had to write and create the content for each exhibit (over 75 different video and interactive shows, games and lessons); as well as install it in very difficult conditions; and train the staff in their operations.
There were two difficult tasks. The first was doing everything in two languages – English and Arabic, as the languages read from opposite directions and programming the images and the voice-overs to the two languages was extremely difficult – but ultimately we were successful. The second most difficult challenge was the weather we faced as we had to install and test the equipment in 40 + degree C weather which was a test both on equipment and personnel.