Moscow marvel: AV at heart of award-winning attraction in Russia

The pressure was on when tasked with transforming wasteland into a spectacle of technology and design that would educate and entertain the masses. Charlotte Ashley explores the first public park to be built in Moscow for 50 years.

Spanning 130,000 square metres, you can’t miss the towering dome structure and  landscaped  spaces of Zaryadye Park, just adjacent to Russia’s  iconic  Kremlin  and  Red Square. A project which attracted the attention of architects  from  around  the  world  back  in 2013, now proudly sits as a feat of design and technology integration that can stake a claim to being one of Russia’s most innovative cultural landmarks.

Expectations were high when the Government of Moscow and the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design put out a call to the design world to create a concept for the park five years ago, following discussions with President Vladimir Putin and the Mayor. Not only was the project to be first major development of this size in Russia for nearly a century, but the site was steeped in history, having previously been home to the “world’s largest hotel,” Rossiya Hotel.

The site was left as a wasteland following the hotel’s demolition, until November 2013 when work began to bring the space back to life, as an international consortium (headed by US studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro) won the competition to design a new urban park. The space was to be transformed with a Concert Hall, Amphitheatre, Media  Centre  and  Conservation  Embassy,  in addition to themed visitor attractions including ‘Flight  over  Russia’,  ‘Time  Machine’  and  the ‘Ice Cave’. Another, billed the ‘floating bridge’, extends from the park over the Moskva River, allowing as many as 4,000 visitors to take in the views of the park and the surrounding scenery.

“It  looks  to  absorb  all  buildings  within  its planting  systems;  nature  and  culture  are  in balance,”  said  the  studio  of  its  winning  ‘Wild Urbanism’  concept  –  spanning  four  diverse and  characteristically  Russian  landscapes (northern tundra, steppe, forest and wetlands). Resultantly, a strong focus on sustainability runs throughout the park, with technologies deployed to create seasonally adjusted micro-climates, including simulating daylight at night, as well as supporting year-round use.

“Location, the project’s high visibility and an extremely tight deadline were all pressure factors with the park,” recalls Mikhail Zherokov, head of the multimedia division at integrator Lanit, who partnered with AV specialist Digis to deliver the project, with the assistance of an international team of subcontractors including Austria-based Kraftwerk Living Technologies, who helped deliver the Flight Over Moscow attraction. “We joined the project in mid-2015 when the customer realised that the previous proposal laid out by another company for the multimedia components wasn’t going to work, and was too expensive,” adds Zherokov.

visitors at tourist information centre at Zaryadye Park, Moscow

Though  secured  in  part  due  to  Lanit’s reputation  in  Russia  and  previous  work  on government projects, its late arrival to the high-profile  installation  meant  the  pressure  was  on to  create  something truly  special.  “The  entire project  was  hosted  by  government  officials including  Mayor  of  Moscow  and  vice-Mayor who was following the project’s daily progress,” states Zherokov.

Lanit  and  Digis  were  tasked  with  not only  delivering  a  visitor  attraction  to  attract  a significant proportion of the 17+ million tourists that  visit  Moscow  each  year,  but  ensuring quality  engineering  and  IT  infrastructure  was in place underground in just five months. This was in keeping with the project-wide ethos for self-supporting revenue streams that prioritised renewable entertainment rides and flexible event spaces below the park’s greenery, maximising space. “Our vision for when all the underground concrete  structures  were  complete  was  one  of the main reasons we won the project – it was a case of the client saying ‘that’s all we have’ and it being down to us to impress them with how  our  design  would  fit  into  existing  areas, whilst still keeping things relatively cheap,” says Zherokov.

AV  underpins  the  experience  in  all  of  the park’s  main  attractions  –  the  media  centre, a  conservation  embassy  and  a  soon-to-be-completed Ice Cave – which both educate and entertain the masses with tales and experiences of Russia’s rich heritage.

Star attractions

The  8,500  square  metre  area  billed  a  ‘Media Centre’  serves  as  multiple  facilities  in  one  – chiefly an education and education space, but also a tourist centre and ticket office, shop and café. The brief set out to the integration team required the centre support everything from shows and theatre to presentations, lectures and exhibitions when needed.

exterior of media centre and information totems at Zaryadye Park, Moscow

The walls and floor of the space were also to serve as screens to immerse visitors in relevant interactive content, comprised of 33 55-in Philips LCD panels.  Content is generated via SpinetiX media players, with content managed through Elementi X software.  A  3x3  videowall information  stand  can  also  be  transformed into a circular panorama of local attractions by visitors, created using Philips panels in harmony with Christie TVC and Phoenix controllers and a  K-array  sound  system  comprised  of  KK102 loudspeakers and KU36 subwoofers.

Visitors  to  the  centre  are  greeted  with  a Moscow  Today  Welcome  Zone  showcasing information  about  the  park,  city  life  and upcoming  events,  supported  by  five  Initium double-sided interactive information kiosks. The area is accompanied by various museum spaces and a children’s television studio.  A  centre-wide  digital  signage  system  assists  visitors in  navigating  the  park  and  points  of  interest, with  a  QSC  AD-S6TW  sound  system  powering background audio in the pavilion.

The  centre  is  also  home  to  the  ‘Time Machine’ – billed as Russia’s first immersive attraction with a  cylindrical  screen  presenting interactive  content. Although originally planned to be domed by the client, a curved screen was eventually chosen due to significantly lower content development costs.  The  ride  features  a  moving  platform incorporating three rows of seating to immerse up  to  60  people  in  the  tale  of  the  Battle  of Borodine, the 1812 fire of Moscow, and more, through  panoramic  projection,  multi-channel sound  and  water-sprayers,  wind-generators, smoke  and  scents.  Equipment to deliver the full 4D effect is accompanied by tracking, fire suppression and ventilation systems.

visitors watching projected content on large screen at Time Machine attraction at Zaryadye Park, Moscow

Fulfilling the brief was far from straightforward however, in part due to having to complete construction a few weeks before the attraction’s opening, but also due to the ceiling shape and reinforced concrete girders in the space. To solve the challenge the integration team opted for 22 carefully positioned Christie WU12K-M 3DLP projectors combined with a 16.5-metre custom-engineered cylindrical aluminium perforated screen designed, supplied and installed by Kraftwerk.

To minimise the defocus effect when projecting onto the curved surface of the cylindrical screen, the projectors were installed in portrait setting, following lenses being tested and developed with Christie. A further 11 projectors complete the set-up, suspended from a variety of positions on the ceiling to create a floor projection. Images are generated and managed via Christie Pandora’s  Box  servers  (8  Quad  and  1  Dual), integrated  with  a  SonicWave  Wave  I  sound processor and an extensive JBL system handling audio, controlled by a QSC matrix.  An interface architecture  for  video  presentation  sources (including  an  optional  Allen  &  Heath  audio mixing desk) supports the multifunctional nature of the equipment to support hosting different events. 

All  equipment  is  deployed  behind  the wall  to  eliminate  the  possibility  interference from  the  multiple  power  lines  present,  with video  content  is  transmitted  by  fibre-optic connection  using  AMX  transceivers.  The  ride furthermore  incorporates  a  Beyerdynamic Synexis  system  to  support broadcasts  for  international and  hearing-impaired  visitors. “Unfortunately,  the  tracking system  deployed  created  an unexpected  effect,  whereby the  system  produced  quite  a dense  flow  of  TUIO  protocol coordinates requiring a certain amount  of  time  to  process, resulting  in  an  interactivity delay  of  approximately  two seconds,”  adds  Zherokov.  To  solve  this  problem,  it was  necessary  to  rework  the programme  using  a  UDP protocol.

close-up of projected screen and content on Time Machine ride at Zaryadye Park, Moscow

Visitors  can  also  joy  the visual  spectacle  that  is  the ‘Flight  over  Moscow’  ride  at the Media Centre – the park’s most  popular  attraction.  A journey  exploring  the  beauty and  breadth of 30  locations across  Russia;  paying  homage to  the  four  nature-scapes chosen  outlined  by  Diller Scofidio  +  Renfro’s  concept and  the  nearby  Red  Square. Sightseers’ aerial voyage from the mountains of Russia  to  the  Baltic  Sea  is  brought  to  life  on a 9-metre high parabolic screen and a dynamic platform  (set  above  the  screen)  that  seats  39. Measuring  203  square  metres  in  total,  images are  projected  onto  the  aluminium  perforated screen by three Christie D4K2560 4K projectors with media playback by Brainsalt servers – all of which was installed by Kraftwerk.

"When it comes to the Flight over Russia and Time Machine rides, there is simply nothing else comparable in Russia…”

To fully immerse visitors in Russia’s heritage, the  ride’s  moving  platform  is  positioned  on  a 11-metre  high  sphere  supporting  6  degrees  of freedom,  with  a  multi-channel  sound  and  a special effects system adding to the simulation of  flight.  Audio  is  amplified  through  a  Meyer Sound  UPA-1P  system  and  accompanying  AC 700-HP  subwoofers,  with  Brainsalt  and  Meyer Sound’s Galileo 616 processors delivering multi-channel audio.  Both  the  Time  Machine  and Flight  over  Moscow  were  specified  to  support media  content  being  regularly  updated; effectively  allowing  the  park  to  offer  new attractions without replacing any hardware.

“Working  on  the  construction  of  this  ride underground  was  definitely  a  challenge,” states  Zherokov.  “It  was  located  in  the  room with  no  outdoor  walls  and  we  had  to  deliver metal  structures  amounting  to  80  tonnes  in an extremely short period of time.” The heavy metal structure had to be delivered by air from manufacturer Dynamic Attraction in Canada due to the time-frame, and then navigate the narrow streets of a busy city centre via 12 trucks to get to Moscow. “Working around overseas deliveries and a fairly inconsistent basement construction, we then had to schedule dismounting some of the roof and walls for the hardware,” he adds.

Inside the Ice Cave

The ambition of the Zaryadye Park continued with an attraction that both represents Russia’s Arctic Circle and truly engage visitors’ senses: The Ice Cave. Briefed to create a high spec pavilion where the temperature would be permanently be below zero, the Ice Cave saw 70 tonnes of water combined with extensive AV equipment.

At  the  heart  of  the  cave’s  main  hall,  the ‘Florarium,’ is a large 1.2mm pixel multipurpose Unilumen  LED  screen  working  with  Pandoras Box  and  a  customised  Stewart  Fideledy  Vision system  –  the  first  use  in  Russia  –  works  to smooth  pixelisation,  eliminates  moiré  effect and  protects  against  possible  water  damage. A 3x3 videowall constructed from Philips LCD panels highlights the Ice Cave’s bar area, which broadcasts which broadcasts images of the Far North and historical facts. Both wall and display are  paired  with  K-array  loudspeakers,  with  an extra  AMX  DX-TX-DWP  interface  architecture and Audio-Technica wireless microphone system on hand to support presentations for events. Each system can be controlled via a 7-in wall-mounted AMX Modero X Series G5 sensor panel. Elsewhere, 15 LCD panels are found in the cave and nearby Conservation Embassy’s’ pavilions – controlled via SpinetiX.

Education hub

The park’s Conservation Embassy serves as a multifunctional space where local state energy agencies and environmental institutions can host educational events for tourists, local schools and college, as well as offering exchange programmes for Moscow University. The centre consists of four teaching auditoriums, including a hall for meetings and academic events and a biology laboratory equipped with photographic equipment and specialist microscopes incorporating built-in cameras connected to displays, amongst other apparatus.

projection screen and equipment in teaching and laboratory space at Zaryadye Park education centre

Teaching auditoriums and meeting rooms benefit from Christie DLP projectors, paired with Da-Lite screens, Smart interactive whiteboards and a Cisco SX80 TelePresence system to support collaboration. All of this is tied together with a Christie Brio wireless presentation system; allowing the park to host different events, with interpretation supported via DIS equipment – with wider control and room booking via AMX. The embassy’s large LED screen can also be updated with video cameras and various sensors should management require it to become a platform for interactive installations.

auditorium and event space at Zaryadye Park's education centre

Lanit and Digis also handled the AV for several ride pre-shows, in addition to office spaces and working areas for the park’s employees.

Zaryadye Park attracted over 1 million visitors in its first month following its opening in September 2017, which has since surpassed 4 million. The project was recognised at the 2018 InAVation Awards for its excellence in AV integration in the Leisure & Entertainment/Visitor Attraction category. “I can say with confidence that the concept for Zaryadye has fully lived up to expectations,” says the park’s director, Pavel Trekhleb. “When it comes to the Media Centre, and specifically the Flight and Time Machine rides, there is  simply  nothing  else  comparable  in  Russia  in  terms  of  the  multimedia systems installed or the high-tech AV/IT features.”

He concludes: “We have received a lot of positive reviews from Moscow residents and tourists. The park is a living organism which will constantly develop and adapt to guests’ priorities.”



Allen & Heath dLive S3000

AMX control system, Modero X Series touch panels, fibre modules and switching system

Audio-Technica ATW-3110b radio system

Beyerdynamic Synexis system

Brainsalt media servers

Chief mounts

Christie WU12K-M, D4K2560 & DHD951-Q projectors, Pandora’s Box server and Brio wireless presentation system

Cisco SX80 videoconferencing system

Da-Lite projection screens

Initium screen kiosks

JBL AC AC266 loudspeakers and PRX418S subwoofers

K-array KK102 speakers and KU36 subwoofers

Meyer Sound UPA-1P loudspeakers, 700-HP subwoofers and Galileo 616 system

Philips 55-in LCD displays

Shure DIS audio and congress system

Sonic Wave I 3D sound processor

SpinetiX HMP350 media players

QSC AD-S6T loudspeakers and Core 500i processor

Unilumen LED display

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