In early 2014, Blue Rhino Design was engaged by TELUS Spark in Calgary, Alberta to design a new cluster of exhibits for their Energy and Innovation Gallery focusing on electricity. The purpose of the new cluster is to encourage visitors, and especially families, to engage and develop their skills in a fun, hands-on and challenging way.
One of the goals with this cluster is to help visitors discover and develop their dormant “engineering” skills through a focus on problem solving, experimentation, observation and collaboration. A second goal is to help visitors understand the interdependencies of the electrical system and how Alberta’s grid may evolve in the future. The coming years are a time of transition for energy systems in Alberta, and an informed public is crucial as systems change. The exhibits in this cluster provide the visiting public with both skills development and fundamental electricity knowledge.
This substantial project involved the design and development of nine entirely new and innovative interactive exhibits and environmental treatments encompassing 3,000 square feet of gallery space. Blue Rhino Design worked collaboratively and productively with TELUS Spark exhibit developers and a contractor team to develop the exhibit concepts and interactive exhibit ideas for this exhibition cluster. As the exhibits are an addition to an existing gallery, the work required an evaluation of existing exhibits, graphics and gallery floor plan studies to identify the gaps in the space and provide a plan to integrate the new exhibits seamlessly into the flow of the space. A large exhibit list of concepts and activities were developed through a Rapid Idea Generation process (RIG). The exhibit ideas were piloted and prototyped by the team at TELUS Spark and visitor feedback was collected and used to move the ideas forward. The ideas were refined through exhibit sketches. Environmental treatment tests were undertaken to establish style and language. Different materials, new technologies and creative interactive interfaces were investigated during the design exploration.
As a result of this design and development process, we designed and detailed a total of nine new exhibits: Communal Cell Phone Battery; Telegraph; Power the Rivalry (Sustainable Dance Floor); Explain Your Electricity Bill; Be The Grid Operator; Maps; Doc Brown Wall; Whimshurst Generator; and Get Shocked.
The final design documents were included in a package to solicit fabrication sources. Subsequent to the selection of the fabricator – Art Guild – Blue Rhino Design worked with TELUS Spark and Art Guild to oversee the fabrication modifications and cost evaluations. Blue Rhino Design was involved in the fabrication and installation process right up to the opening of the new exhibit cluster.