Parlamentarium

A Journey into European Politics in 23 Languages
Brussels, Belgium

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The Parlamentarium in Brussels is the first visitors’ centre fully accessible in 23 languages, and uses a variety of interactive multimedia exhibits to take visitors on a unique journey into the heart of the European Parliament and the European Union (EU). Electrosonic provided the main exhibition audio-visual systems for Stuttgart-based designer ATELIER BRÜCKNER, who ingeniously fitted the exhibition into a space originally designed to be an underground car park.

Upon arrival, visitors are issued multimedia guides supplied by NOUS of Austria, which accommodate all 23 languages and are augmented with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology by Electrosonic to provide customised interactivity with the exhibits.

The first series of exhibits introduces and outlines the EU. “Treaty Tables” use 40-inch LCD touchscreens to give further information on the the documents that have produced the current EU.

“Today and Tomorrow” features an interactive “Calendar” in which visitors slide an LCD panel across the parliament’s week-by-week events schedule to reveal further information about each particular event. The “Polling Booths” allow visitors to express their own views by ‘voting’ on current issues; visitors can compare their opinions with other visitors and the parliament itself on an overhead LED display in the ‘Sky of Opinions’ exhibition, known as the “Results Ceiling”.

A Parliament for Europe

The big show at the Parlamentarium is the 360º presentation, “A Parliament for Europe”, which gives visitors a real sense of what it’s like to sit in the semicircular layout of the European Parliament. Visitors listen to debates, watch votes and are guided through the legislative process. The 12-minute show uses 14 DLP projectors to produce an edge-blended image across a total screen area of about 1,600 square feet. During a five-minute intermission, visitors can access information about the members of the European Parliament (MEP) using thirty-six 19-inch touchscreens set into the desks.

MEP Display Wall

Europe in Daily Life

“Europe in Daily Life” is another 360º experience shown in a second theatre with a similar projection configuration. This exhibit offers visitors a more relaxed learning environment; a complement of easy chairs and 22 touchscreens in 15.4-inch widescreen portrait orientation allows visitors to learn how the EU and its policies have impacted the lives, businesses and prospects of 54 Europeans from all 27 EU countries. Electrosonic supplied a video playback software system for both shows to be properly synchronized, edge-blended and warped; the system also delivers timecode to the media guides to synchronize the delivery of the multi-language commentaries.

Ground of Stories

“United in Diversity” truly captures the stunning enhancements provided by Electrosonic’s AV expertise. First, the exhibition “Ground of Stories” takes visitors on a virtual trip through Europe. A 2,260-square foot map of Europe with 600 RFID tags identifying places of particular interest covers the floor. Visitors use one of 12 mobile displays built by exhibit fabricator Bruns to learn more by rolling the trolley-like display device over the map. Electrosonic paid special attention to the battery and charging specifications to ensure the displays would operate over full days.

Parlamentarium

Additionally, a “Sky of Opinions” voxel (volumetric pixel) display located overhead, developed by Latvia based Atlantic Star under sub-contract to Electrosonic, takes the form of 13,000 spherical LED-based elements arranged in a three-dimensional array to create a map of Europe that mirrors the one on the floor. The LEDs interpret the data presented on the ticker in colour and graphical form. The intensity of a particular colour on the map, for example, reflects the strength of opinion in a geographical area based on poll results. Electrosonic worked in collaboration with no less than nine other companies, on a working site that brought together 700 workers. The contribution of Electrosonic’s engineers was decisive to overcoming the many conceptual and technical difficulties inherent to a project like this, especially one built from the structure of an underground car park. Electrosonic overcame the darkness and physical space constraints in this environment to create a lively and sophisticated visitor experience.

Electrosonic continues to support the Parlamentarium with a five year service contract, including preventative maintenance visits, telephone support and a two day call out response time.