In partnership with With Company, Exponential Hope is our proposal for the Design Competition of the Public Hall for Shenzhen Science and Technology Museum, a project of Zaha Hadid Architects. With this project, we get to the 8 shortlisted finalists.
With Shenzhen becoming a world reference in innovation, the new Science and Technology Museum should be a place to showcase the new technology and take visitors on a journey towards a great future, inspiring them to have an active role in creating it.
Way more can be done by going one step further and rethinking this museum experience to create deeper, more meaningful interactions. Using the latest technologies and marrying them with human aspirations, we create a museum that is a portal to the future and a window to what Shenzhen and China offer to the world.
Drawn to the fascinating innovation ecosystem and birthplace of the best innovations and ideas, hope is what brings people from around the world to Shenzhen.
Hope resides in every individual; each of us has our own aspirations, dreams, and goals. Psychology argues that our hope is closely tied to our surroundings and that the way we see ourselves is also a representation of who we think we are within society.
What if we could harness this societal creative energy — alongside cutting-edge Chinese-led Science and technology — to showcase the idea of hope as the driving force for the future?
Hope theory is the Science behind an optimistic state of mind. Every human creates expectations throughout their everyday lives, guiding them through their decision-making processes. The more hopeful these expectations are, the more positive experiences they tend to have.
How can we put hope at the center of the conversation?
Hope is not something that you can visualize by itself. You need context. Usually, we are the physical embodiment of our own hope, so how can we make it more visible?
We designed a rich visitor journey that showcases Shenzhen's identity of Hope through digital, physical, and sensorial experiences.
Using new technologies like computer vision and artificial intelligence, we provide each visitor with a unique experience where each interaction unfolds into a representation of their own individual idea of Hope.
As a perpetual ever-changing feeling, Hope starts as an individual perception that merges into a collective vision. And just like the Pearl River Delta has its mechanical force from the sum of many individual water drops, the Shenzhen hope is the sum of many individual perspectives of Hope that become the city identity.
Our experience starts by helping every visitor construct their own individual idea of Hope, your very own drop of water that comprises the big river. Using various interactions to translate the individual's abstract sense of Hope into a digital, visual representation of it — an Individual Hope Avatar that further down the experience will comprise a bigger collective representation of Hope.
When it came to giving shape to hope, we turned to traditional Chinese culture as inspiration.
The Chinese magic mirror is an ancient object that can be traced back to the Chinese Han dynasty. It reflects just like a regular mirror while magically revealing a second hidden image. Like this mirror, visitors should be able to unexpectedly see hope in and through themselves.
Today mirrors are something ordinary that became part of our daily lives. Typically, they are a symbol of our individual selves in the present but guided by hope, they become a portal to the future, showing our dreams and ambitions for better tomorrows.
How can we use technology to aid this process, infusing hope into mirrors?
To provide the most seamless and magical feeling experience, we defined four main principles that would guide our design thinking process.
Technology as Magic
Making technology invisible in order to increase immersion.
Creating a unique experience for every visitor to feel connected to.
Adaptable to ever-changing futures
Using an interface that can evolve with the museum's evolution.
Design as a continuous and social experiment
Fostering the visitor's relationship with the museum by providing tools for a collective experience.
When creating an installation piece to harbour our experience and resonate with visitors, we were inspired by the margins of the Pearl River Delta.
The structure reflects the river's identity as a natural element that unites the citizens of The Greater Bay Area.
Like the delta itself, the installation will feel alive. Inundating the entire hall with its presence, emanating vibrant light, deep sounds, and tangible vibrations that vary according to the visitor's interactions, creating an ambience that will bring the experience to a deeper level of immersion.
Our experience lives right at the centre of the hall. This minimal yet technology-packed structure comprises two different undulating walls with which the visitors interact. Their surface is entirely covered by a mirrored finish where information and graphics appear to be displayed like magic, unconstrained by technology like a conventional display would be.
The Magic Mirror walls have hidden displays and sensors that convey a feeling of human awareness to the installation, displaying information only when a user approaches, interacts, or glances at the surface. Using computer vision, it understands every visitor's individual characteristics and context, distinguishes a child from an adult, interprets a face's emotional state or expression, and collects data from the most minute to the most noticeable actions to better conduct intuitive, conversational, and seamless interactions.