Parlamentarium

November 6, 2019 Emma Shipp

Immersive, interactive technology turns day-to-day politics into an engaging digital experience for the European Parliament. 

Brussels, Belgium

OVERVIEW

How do you explain in a simple, accessible way the workings of a Parliament that brings together representatives from 27 diverse countries to harmonize complex policies and legislation for over 500 million citizens? And, in the spirit of ‘united in diversity’, how do you make the information understandable to visitors from countries with 24 different languages? That’s the challenge that faced Parlamentarium, the visitor center for the European Parliament in Brussels. 

Technology has proved the key, demonstrating that audiovisual and interactivity speak a common language that can cross cultural and national barriers. Electrosonic worked with architects ATELIER BRÜCKNER to provide the audiovisual, interactive and experiential systems for what the designers call a ‘scenographically staged exhibition’. Parlamentarium takes visitors on a multimedia journey in their own language into the European Parliament. Sit in the middle of a Parliamentary session, meet the 750 Members of the    Parliament (MEPs), take a trip around Europe and express opinions.  

Immersive content plays a starring role in bringing the Parliamentary experience to life. A 360o presentation puts visitors in the heart of the semicircular Parliament space. They can listen to debates, see the decision-making process at first hand and feel involved in the development of European Union (EU) legislation. Europe is a big, diverse place, so why not take visitors on a trip. Easy when you’ve got the technology to compress time and space. Visitors hitch a ride on a trolley and tour a 2260 square feet floor map with 600 RFID tags to learn more about places of interest. Another 360o presentation integrated with 22 touchscreens showcases the impact of EU legislation. And, visitors can express and compare views in an interactive 3-dimensional overhead Sky of Opinions formed by 13,000 LED elements.  It’s all part of the amazing, informative experience in Parlamentarium.

 

Visitors ‘tour’ Europe on an interactive mobile display, choose a location and find out how EU legislation has impacted the residents 

CHALLENGE

Parlamentarium was an ambitious project that brought together ten companies and 700 specialists working on a three-floor site. The organizers wanted visitors to experience a personalized tour in their own language. That meant presenting content in 24 languages and enabling visitors to customize the way they interact with exhibits. While the European Parliament emphasizes unity, many visitors have their own local interests. They might want to find out more about their own MEP, learn what their representatives are working on in  upcoming parliamentary sessions or express their own views on current issues. The challenge was to ensure this local information was easy to access through interactive media. 

The organizers also wanted to show the diversity of opinion that was possible within a unified Europe. By integrating high-level LED displays with interactive ‘polling booths’ they aimed to create a ‘Sky of Opinions’ that would highlight both differences and consensus. They recognized that legislation can be a very dry subject, particularly when it takes the form of lengthy documents. They wanted to use technology to let visitors explore legislation in their own way. 

SOLUTION

Electrosonic has collaborated with architects, designers and content producers to create engaging, immersive, interactive audiovisual experiences that bring the process and impact of political decisions to life for every age group. With 40-inch LCD touchscreens, 360 degree immersive presentations and mobile interactive displays, multimedia guides available in 24 languages and RFID-based interactivity and customization, technology makes the European Parliament relevant to the digital generation. 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Parlamentarium is the largest parliamentary visitor center in Europe and the first museum in the world to be fully operational in 24 languages. It has attracted more than two million visitors and received more than 10 industry awards. The center meets the goal of building understanding of the European Parliament to EU citizens and visitors in their own terms and in their own language. 

"The European Union can be a tough nut to crack but the high-tech interactive Parlamentarium breaks it into bite-sized pieces." - Independent Review

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