(Fall 2021 – Dubai) – Multidisciplinary design studio Cactus, working at the intersection of the physical and digital, bestows its technological and design expertise to the creation of the awe-inspiring Brazil Pavilion at The World Expo Dubai. A fully immersive 360° nature-evoking experience open from October 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, the Pavilion transports visitors to Brazil’s forests, canyons, and beaches through breathtaking larger-than-life visual projections.
The World Expo is known for its futuristic and thought-provoking installations, and the Brazil Pavilion is no exception. Cactus’ design and tech-forward experience design contributions showcase the power of combining culture and digital tools to tell meaningful stories. Created in collaboration with prominent Brazilian architects, including MMBB, JPQ.ARQ, and BEN-AVID, the daytime exhibition offers attendees a shady respite from the desert heat. Stepping through a shallow reflective pool beneath the 24,800 square foot enclosure, visitors are immersed in a one-of-a-kind sensory experience. From the walls to the floor and ceiling, guests are surrounded by over 60,000 square feet of vibrant videos, enveloped in the wondrous sights and sounds of the Amazon rainforest. As the sun sets, the exterior of the exhibit transforms into a luminous cube of dazzling images, traversing through Brazil’s lush and diverse landscapes, unveiling another must-see harmonizing digital display of culture and entertainment.
“We want the world to see and feel the beauty and intricacies of the country we call home,” explains Marcelo Pontes, Head of Architecture for Cactus. “The process of achieving seamless UX requires good design at its core. There were many technical roadblocks, including regional weather, sand, and heat, that made this project more difficult than anything else we have taken on before. Unlike traditional immersive experiences which only focus on projection mapping inside spaces, we were designing for the entire exterior of the exhibit as well.”
To translate the vision of the architects, Cactus’ first challenge meant meticulously specifying a projectable and weather-resistant sheer translucent fabric to illuminate the various videos of Brazil’s natural geographical wonders, while keeping in mind the Expo’s theme of sustainability and biodiversity. Taking these conditions into account, Cactus developed a custom fabric with the Serge Ferrari Group. An extremely sturdy material in its composition, the bespoke construction membrane 1002 HT boasts high tensile and tear strength, allowing it to withstand sandstorms, windstorms, and other challenging elements of desert life. The textile’s consistent color translucency makes it ideal for high-quality digital projections viewed from both inside and outside the Pavilion. Integrations between hardware, cables, and software were also implemented to ensure precise synchronization between each projection.
With the ‘digital canvas’ in place, Cactus next developed an intricate display system consisting of 140+ projectors and custom selected media servers that seamlessly map over 2 billion pixels per second of content on all sides of the enclosure, inside and out. With careful architectural precision, Cactus cleverly integrated the projectors into the physical design of the pavilion. These technical components are hidden in plain sight and somehow never encroach upon the viewer’s visual field.
Much of the magic experienced as a result of Cactus’ work can be credited to the innovative, yet disciplined design practices behind the scenes. By employing a dedicated, strategic approach marked by its diversified expertise, this interdisciplinary studio makes the impossible look completely effortless. The result is a human-centric design, highlighting the confluence of physical-meets-digital with an immersive experience that considers both the built environment and the necessity of technology for delivery. Surround sound systems and crisp visual projections at a massive scale pull spectators out of their handheld devices and force them to observe and enjoy the physical space in which they occupy. It is through these experiences that Cactus is able to captivate audiences and create unforgettable ‘in-real-life’ experiences that excite and inspire.
“Our job is to turn lofty, complex ideas into reality, to optimize and accelerate the convergence of digital and physical experiences at an architectural scale,” notes Lucas Werthein, Head of Technology for Cactus. “This project is a culmination of everything we love doing and believe we need more of in this world—getting people out of their phones and into their lives, experiencing wonder in a way that is memorable, sensory, and highly entertaining and engaging.”
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A first-of-its-class hybrid, dedicated to imagining, designing, and building what’s next, experiential design studio Cactus creates work at the convergence of physical-meets-digital. Rooted in three core disciplines: brand strategy, digital technology, and architecture, with a successful track record of innovative, technology-infused designs across a wide range of industries, Cactus is establishing itself as a vanguard in the design space by translating fresh, cutting-edge perspective to rethink how design relates to industries like health care, wellness, entertainment and more. Applying unsurpassed strategic, technological, and architecture prowess to every project, Cactus is ushering in a new era by designing holistic, technologically integrated experiences that empower individuals of both the present and the future.