Being Brunel - Bristol, UK

July 2, 2019 Jenn Petersen

Bring visitors up close and personal with the mind of a genius

CHALLENGE

How do you celebrate the life and work of a genius — one of England’s most famous engineers, Isambard Kingdom Brunel?

The organizers wanted to demonstrate his personality and who he was as a person by portraying the inner workings of Brunel’s mind. In the Being Brunel Visitor Center, guests can step into the mind of the inventor. They enter a show through the ear of a giant recreation of Brunel’s head.

The aim was to create an immersive experience that gave visitors an insight into the process of “engineering” in the nineteenth century. The experience had to communicate the scale and diversity of Brunel’s achievements. No mean feat for a ground-breaking engineer who built dockyards, the Great Western Railway, the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship and many innovative bridges and tunnels. The organizers also wanted to show how Brunel conducted business by inviting visitors to participate in a meeting — let them experience the practicalities of selling an innovative late change to the design of a ship from a paddle steamer to a screw propeller.

Once inside the giant head, visitors move through the brain guided by surround sound and special effects.

SOLUTION

Brunel’s Mind is the centerpiece of the museum. Once inside the giant head, visitors move through the mind guided by surround sound and special effects. A multi-projector display inside the mind communicates the complex thought processes, the “Eureka” moments and the despair that inventors experience to realize their vision. Steam effects and the smell of engine oil and cigars add to the fully immersive experience.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

This unique approach to a tremendous historical life has helped establish Being Brunel as the leading attraction in Bristol’s busy harbor area — challenging in an environment that boasts many rival visitor experiences. It gives a comprehensive, engaging insight into the process of invention – educating visitors and inspiring the next generation of engineers. Moreover, it complements the nearby realization of Brunel’s genius – the SS Great Britain.

"What is unique about this project is the way the full dome projection blends so seamlessly with the wrap-around POV content. It’s the result of much collaborative hard work with hardware specialists Electrosonic developing a software/hardware solution." -Paul Kucharski, Creative Director, Centre Screen Productions

Download a full version of this project profile here.

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