Passengers and visitors normally only get a glimpse of the complex processes involved in operations at Frankfurt Airport. In our second project for the airport operator Fraport, ART+COM has now conceived and implemented a complete exhibition for the first time. It gives you an opportunity to take a look at the fascinating world of air travel from very different perspectives. The Fraport Visitor Center adds digital layers to enhance the visitors’ experience and satisfies their curiosity with a behind-the-scenes look at flight operations.
In numerous joint coordination meetings over a period of five years, we adapted both the entire concept and individual exhibits to meet technical, content-related, spatial and organisational requirements. The plans were also continuously refined. Our main focus was on the question of how can we convey the fun of flying that children experience when they send paper airplanes gliding through the air to all visitors so they enjoy the same feeling? How can flight operations be depicted in such a way that their complexity can be seen, but does not seem overwhelming?
Here again, it became clear that a trusting collaboration on a partner-like basis produces authentic results. The Airport City model was developed in close cooperation with Fraport so that it depicts the airport within an area measuring 55 square metres. You can use tablets that detect precisely where you are standing at the model and digitally explore the specific functions of buildings that are depicted in analogue form. One airport employee, who has been conducting the popular airport tours for decades, was always available during planning to fill us in on the constantly changing conditions at the airport. A real marshaller from Frankfurt Airport also came to support us with the Marshaller’s Game. This attraction allows visitors to marshal an aircraft into its parking position virtually by means of motion tracking. Not only did he make sure that the game uses the correct wand signals, he also helped make the 3D environment look realistic – right down to the wear and tear on the apron.
Alongside fun features, for example, the virtual tour along the baggage conveyor system, visitors most of all should be enabled to follow live flight operations. However, our plan to make the operations at Fraport and global air traffic visible and allow them to be watched in real-time gave rise to several challenges. For example, merging a wide range of data sources not only means that different technical interfaces need to be coordinated and integrated, the system also has to comply with numerous security regulations.
The “Smart Windows” provide you with a very direct insight into the airport operations: the excellent view of the apron from the visitor center has been augmented with almost 3-metre tall touchscreens. These not only show the ongoing familiar procedures on the apron, but also tell you the current status of an aircraft at the opposite gate, how many passengers are on board, where it is flying to and where it has just flown in from.
The highlight of the exhibition is “The Globe”. It catches your eye from a distance as soon as you enter the room and adds the experience of global flight operations to the visitor journey. A media wall measuring around 25 square metres shows air traffic across the globe – live. It allows you to directly track the impact of any events that can affect flight routes, for example, weather conditions or geopolitical events. You can turn the globe, as well as zoom in and out of it. For presentations, you can also navigate the world by means of gesture control.
We have also thought of families with pre-school and primary school children in particular: the “Children’s Trail” adds an explorative, playful level to exhibits for adults and offers separate, child-oriented features to investigate. History buffs are also catered for, among other things, with audio stories from aviation history that have been illustrated with Pepper’s Ghost animations.
The Fraport Visitor Center opened in summer 2021. This is the sixth major project at an international airport that ART+COM has been involved in.
Creative direction, project management and general contractor exhibition: ART+COM AG
Design, planning and project management for interior design: COORDINATION Berlin
Architecture: MK Architekten
Construction management: Schüßler-Plan
Lighting design: COORDINATION Berlin
Graphic design: Schauschau
Audio design: Klangerfinder
Fit-out: barth Innenausbau KG, Hubl & Hubl e.K., Hansen Werbetechnik GmbH, Monath + Menzel GmbH, LIDE GmbH – Licht und Decke, Lightnet, id3d-berlin, König Bürotechnik, SIGMA System Audio-Visuell GmbH, SiFaT RoadSafety GmbH