Project Details

The First Light Pavilion exhibition tells the story of pioneering astronomer Bernard Lovell and the Jodrell Bank observatory through an immersive and interactive digital experience. Squint/Opera was responsible for the production of 19 media exhibits which relate this unique and inspiring story. Highlights include a large-scale projection of the universe sky projected onto 12 original panels of the Lovell Telescope and a bespoke planetarium film narrated by acclaimed physicist Professor Brian Cox.

Client

The University of Manchester

Location

Cheshire, UK

Sector

Museums & Attractions

Collaborators

Jodrell Bank, Casson Mann, ISO

The Brief

The building takes the form of a grass-topped dome mirroring the shape and scale of the actual Lovell Telescope, and housing a custom-built planetarium and exhibition space. The exhibition designed by Casson Mann tells the fascinating story of Jodrell Bank through history, science, and culture. The brief was to combine and reflect two contrasting aspects of the story: the man-made experiments in fields and the wonders of the universe, or how steel, mud and determination would eventually be responsible for some of the greatest discoveries of modern astronomy.

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Our Response

In close collaboration with Jodrell Bank and Casson Mann, Squint/Opera facilitated a creative and dynamic storytelling experience through interactive and immersive digital media which utilised the custom-built planetarium space and the original fabric of the telescope itself.

As visitors enter the exhibition space, they are immersed in visually captivating projections of the universe sky, combining optical and radar images and showcasing key celestial objects and astronomical discoveries. Visitors are also invited to trigger bespoke content onto the main projection screens by discovering hidden ‘easter eggs’ within the digital interactives. The challenge was to coordinate such technological orchestration using 17 projectors and create a show with ever changing combination of content. Using the significant archives and the scientific data available, Squint/Opera also created a series of bespoke graphics, films, animations and digital interactives.

Visitors can control in real time a replica of the Lovell Telescope using physical handles linked to a digital 3D model. Another film called Pioneering Science features specially commissioned interviews with leading astronomers and physicists, exploring key astronomical theories and the vital role Jodrell Bank plays to this day. Early days of Jodrell Bank links a large scale projected animation of the original Jodrell Bank site with 5 interactive touch screen displays. These provide a detailed exploration into key locations and encourages each user to trigger additional layers of content onto the larger projected site map. A bespoke soundtrack was created by Coda to Coda to immerse the visitors in this unique atemporal space but also add a sense of wonder to the overall experience.

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