‘REWILD Our Planet’ is a 40-minute augmented reality (AR) experience where visitors become ‘players’ to explore, choose and act on climate issues affecting Earth.
The interactive exhibition is a mix of acoustics, visual projections, theatre staging, smartphones and advanced AR technology. Opening in Singapore, and then in New York and Bristol, the experience is a catalyst for players to pledge action to restore the Earth’s ecosystems.
The exhibition is based on the documentary series ‘Our Planet’, produced by Netflix with WWF. Voiced by Sir David Attenborough, the world’s most fragile ecosystems are revealed along with the environmental consequences of human activity.
Arup joined the creative cohort behind ‘REWILD Our Planet’, collaborating with Australian immersive technology studio PHORIA on acoustic engineering support and soundscape design for the game-like experience. For the flagship exhibition in Singapore, we extended our scope of work to provide structural engineering services.
4 biomes to explore
1 Earth to save
1 pledge per visitor to act on climate change
Setting the stage for action against climate change
Visitors encounter four ecosystems (biomes) – frozen, forest, grassland and ocean. These are represented as four digital worlds, viewed in realistic 3D imagery through hand-held Google Pixel 3 smartphones.
Players move from one biome to the next to learn of the effects of climate change and take action to reverse these effects. By seeing the biomes recover from desolate places to balanced ecosystems (through PHORIA’s AR powered digital twin platform CAPTUR3D), players see the potential to ‘rewild’ our planet.
At Arup, we are venturing more into non-traditional engineering projects where we’re challenged in unique and creative ways. Our collaboration with PHORIA is a great example of the fusion of engineering, art and technology for social purpose. ”Jessica Gouthro Senior Acoustics Engineer
Our Melbourne team collaborated with PHORIA to digitally design and fabricate a prototype of the viewing platform for the exhibition at the ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
We used technology and materials to create a sustainable structure that was cognizant with the exhibition’s purpose.
We analysed the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of materials, plus a range of transportation methodologies, to identify the most environmentally beneficial way to manufacture and install the platform. The outcome: digital design would be developed in Melbourne and the timber sourced and machined in Singapore, then assembled on site.
This is a tremendous example of Arup creativity and collaboration coming together across sector and region to produce something truly extraordinary, in alignment with our aspiration to ‘shape a better world’. ”Sean McGinn Associate Principal
Over four weeks, we developed and tested lightweight modular ‘waffle’ timber structures with The University of Melbourne School of Design’s FabLab. We refined the design by using parametric modelling to simulate variations, using computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) tools. Our design-for-manufacture approach resulted in a system that minimised mass and waste and could be built quickly and safely by an unskilled workforce.
We chose structural plywood as the sole building material because it has low carbon dioxide emissions and low energy consumption compared to concrete and steel and is easily reused or recycled.
By locally sourcing timber in Singapore, the carbon footprint of long-haul shipping was mitigated. The timber was machined to specifications developed in Melbourne, flat-packed, and delivered to site. Assembling the platform required no specialised mechanical fixtures due to the interlocking joint timber design.
The digital modelling process removed material waste, reaching an efficiency rate of 90% per sheet. The weight of the overall structure was significantly lowered to just over half of the estimated weight for a ‘pen and paper’ design and build.
Sound enhances the experience
Netflix and WWF’s vision to create an experience that would highlight solutions to the Earth’s climate challenges as well as demonstrate the causes was realised through the multimedia experience.
Our acoustics team adapted the series’ master audio score (comprising original music by Steven Price, best known for his Academy Award-winning score for ‘Gravity’) to create four soundscapes (one for each biome) with added effects from nature.
The soundscapes heightened the sensory experience of players and contributed to the exhibition’s success, and the wider campaign to encourage individuals to act on climate change.
This exhibition aims to augment the emotional connection users feel to each other and the planet. Building it with Netflix, Google, WWF and Arup demonstrates how emerging, extended reality technologies can transform the social impact sector for good. ” Trent Clews-de Castella CEO, PHORIA
Creating a global conscience
Our collaboration with PHORIA helped visitors to leave the exhibition with a consciousness of the biggest threat facing our survival.
In a world-first collaboration, the design team from Arup, PHORIA, WWF, Netflix and Google created an exhibition that fulfils its social role – to inspire people to act to restore Earth’s diverse ecosystems.
This undertaking has had expert teams around the world working in sync to design, engineer and install the unique multimedia and sensory exhibition. The exhibition mirrors our own ethos of shaping a better world and our alignment with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. ”Peter Chamley Chair, Australasia Region