Case study: Schindler Showroom, Switzerland

Corporate applications aren’t a normal fit for immersive dome installations but Anna Mitchell finds a company that has broken the mould when she pays Schindler a visit.

Schindler, a manufacturer probably best known for lifts and escalators, asserts that the lift has enabled us to build the cities we have today. It’s a bold claim but one that’s easy to argue. Without lifts we have no skyscrapers and looking over the world’s most iconic cities – from Dubai to London and New York to Shanghai – you can’t deny that the world’s major capitals would look very different if buildings had never climbed beyond four or five storeys.

Elevator technologies have become increasingly sophisticated, employing complex algorithms to boost efficiency and save energy. Schindler has generated a great deal of the momentum in this area and recently expanded this intelligent building control concept further, launching The Port Technology, a solution described as “a transit management system”.

Schindler was founded in Lucerne, close to Zurich in 1874 and the family owned company has taken over a sprawling site close to the city. Tucked away inside an industrial looking exterior is the company’s Advanced Programmes division.

It is here that many of the company’s most innovative ideas and advances are born. Problem is the Special Projects division doesn’t really create tangible products. So how do you convey a vision to people who are responsible for shaping the biggest building projects and, in turn, the world’s cities?

This was the challenge that faced John Mizon, vice president of Advanced Programmes at Schindler, when trying to envisage a facility that could showcase the company’s Port Technology as well as a wider vision on how our cities should be shaped in the future.

Mizon wanted to create an immersive experience to convey part of the company’s message. However, in a business setting and when talking to architects, building developers, politicians and engineers; solutions that used head-mounted displays or even glasses were seen as a barrier to getting these people involved. “But we wanted an emotional as well as professional response,” he argued. “We’re not selling products, we’re conveying concepts.”

A dome was decided on but Mizon’s next challenge was finding the right system and partner. Schinder’s vision was very detailed and specific and Mizon quickly discounted a number of options. As time went on - and despite extensive research, visiting events and trade shows around the world - he struggled to find the solution he needed and was at the point of giving up when he came across Holovis at an exhibition in the USA.

Holovis is a specialist in immersive experiences and invited Mizon and colleague Dr Paul Freidli who is responsible for some of the most innovative advances from within Schindler, to its UK demonstration and research facilities.

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