Observation Deck, Dock B, 2011

Zurich Airport, Switzerland

As part of recent renovation works, Dock B was equipped with a custom designed, 250 metre long observation deck. This new open-air exhibition space was inspired by the sensuous experience of flying and the fascination with aircraft technology. Several media installations and exhibits enable visitors to receive insights and background information and to read and listen to stories about flying. Since half of all visitors are children many of the installations were developed especially with the younger visitors in mind.

At four observation points guests may use medial telescopes to observe the airport grounds and to interactively request additional information on the airport and its operation. Looking though the Airportscopes visitors are also able to retrieve data on airport buildings and on planes parked along the airfield, or rolling by before take-off or landing. To detect the airplanes’ exact position the Airportscopes analyse data from the tower and overlay the live image with this information, providing data on a plane’s type, destination or point of origin.

Six of the electronic displays located along the terrace display technical details and flight information on the aircraft parked along Dock B. Further information still on flight operations is provided on several glass panels, explaining, for example, preparations for take-off, or the code of an aircraft radio which can be heard over an integrated loudspeaker.

Floor graphics informed by the markings on the runway act as a guidance system, and create an atmospheric framework for the installations. Additionally 12 stations of a kids’ circuit are indicated by red dots on the ground. Upon entering the terrace children receive a play and learn book inviting them to get involved at these stations. Activities include ‘spot the difference’, puzzles, or labelling drawings. There is also a big playground designed around air traffic related motifs. Three-dimensional play elements ‘grow’ out of white, graphic silhouettes that represent different types of aircraft. For instance, the blades of a helicopter are transformed into a carousel, the wings of an airplane form a see-saw, or children can pilot an Airbus-model.