The role of the new 1,100M² semi-permanent Experience Centre is to provide an introduction to the work of TDIC for a range of high profile visitors, some of whom would have little background knowledge of the region.
Our response to this brief was to create a three part experience to illustrate TDIC's important role. The first part of this experience is a simple reception area, with introductory text and graphics outlining Abu Dhabi's heritage in the key areas of Hospitality, Leisure, Culture and the Environment, along with a selection of specially commissioned photography from their archive.
Once a group of guests has assembled, they are invited by their host into the theatre that houses the second part of the experience. Here, a seven minute immersive multi-media experience takes them on a journey in which they explore the history of the Emirate, the reasons for the creation of TDIC, and some examples of current projects, based around the four themes that were introduced earlier.
The ultra high definition imagery on a giant wrap-round screen is enhanced with specially commissioned music, surround-sound effects, lighting and aromas to draw the audience in and to immerse them in their journey.
Finally, guests are guided to the third part of the experience - a large exhibition space in which they can explore a range of current and future TDIC projects in more depth, with models, video and graphics.
Given the fast pace of development of many of these projects, it was an important aspect of the brief that this space should be easily updateable, particularly with regard to graphics, without having to replace whole areas.
With this in mind, Action Impact developed a visual style inspired by the architecture of Mies van der Rohe and Corbusier, and the paintings of Mondrian. This combines simple clean shapes with a graphic style made up of geometric blocks, creating a distinctive look that also allows for individual blocks to be updated and replaced individually.
At a glance, each of the three elements of the experience works as a separate space, but on closer examination it is the attention to details and finishing touches that turns them into a cohesive experience. A wave motif runs throughout the space, reminding visitors that Abu Dhabi is built on and around 200 natural islands surrounded by water. This motif appears on glass panels and doorways, on the specially designed theatre seats, as a graphic device within the theatre presentation and even on the air conditioning covers. Meanwhile, the specially composed music begins in the reception space with a track inspired by the ancient songs of the local fishermen. This theme develops in the soundtrack in the theatre, becoming more contemporary, and is then carried through in another arrangement into the exhibition background music.