Hodgetts + Fung was asked to create an installation to celebrate the phenomenon of solar power and then later to create a second exhibition based on wave power as part of an ambitious program by Germany’s primary electrical utility company, Energie - Forum - Innovation.
An array of technologically sophisticated devices accompanied by powerful images helped visitors translate their personal experiences into a deeper understanding of the complex relationships between solar radiation, energy production, and everyday life.
Created to complement the company’s flagship facilities designed by Frank Gehry, the interactive exhibits were conceived and developed entirely in-house as a blend of science, technology and theater. Hodgetts + Fung’s vertical integration of exhibit design and technical expertise made possible the creation of novel devices which challenged visitors to interact directly with solar energy.
Posing the question: “What would life be like without the sun?” their answer, “No more daisies,’ became the theme for the project. The design process thus began with pitch darkness. The goal was to create a magical environment powered by the sun that would entice visitors to wrestle with both the concept and physical presence of solar energy, create cosmic sounds, and chart the waxing and waning of the seasons.
Ideas of cause and effect, and tangible and immediate connected visitors to the concept of the sun’s heat. On the other hand, massive pointers, one powered by a square meter of solar energy, the other by a person pedaling on a bicycle, left visitors with an indelible appreciation of solar power. If the cyclist was athletic, the race might have been even for a time until his stamina waned or a cloud passed in front of the sun. Either way, there was an open challenge to those waiting their turn.