The world’s largest 360° display in the world’s largest car delivery centre – and item is at the heart of it all.
Germany has always been a nation of fervent car lovers. This fascination for vehicles is clearly illustrated by the Autostadt, which opened in Wolfsburg back in 2000 and cost around 430 million euros to build. In addition to the car delivery centre, the Autostadt also houses numerous facilities for exhibitions, concerts, shows and culinary experiences spread across more than 28 hectares. The pièce de résistance, however, is the car delivery centre itself, known as the “CustomerCenter”, where customers can pick up their new Volkswagen or SEAT in style. Our aluminium profiles also make an appearance in this remarkable atmosphere, forming the supporting frame of a 360-degree display in the waiting area – yet another world record breaker in terms of size. Using magnetically controlled discs called ‘flip dots’, the display shows the proud owners of brand-new vehicles when they are next in line to collect their new wheels.
Making a great impression on new vehicle owners
There’s a short sound and the countless flip dots on the ring-shaped display whirr into action above the heads of the waiting customers, coming together to spell out the pick-up times and names. This was the vision that was suggested in response to VW’s invitation to tender for a display – and it ultimately won the contract. Concept planning and project management were taken care of by Uwe Urbas from Polyphon. Christopher Bauder from WHITEvoid, who saw to the project’s art direction and design, tasked the team from mawa led by Martin Wallroth and Steven Morgan with planning, manufacturing and installing the display. On board the team of developers hired for this prestigious project was Konstantin Weickardt, who worked on the test structure in Babelsberg and the final installation in the Autostadt in Wolfsburg.
mawa has made a name for itself by focusing on developing its own custom lights and technical lighting solutions. From time to time, however, the mawa team deliberately takes on a project that forces it out of its comfort zone and helps it add new skills to its portfolio. In this case, the aim was to put its engineering capabilities to the test. The team turned to our Line 6 profiles in the dimensions of 30x30 and 60x30 for the supporting frame of the 360-degree display. First, however, the profiles had to be bent on the in-house CNC bending machine, factoring in the various radii. Although item doesn’t bend any profiles itself, this exceptional example shows the potential for such projects. As Weickardt reports, item had earned mawa’s trust based on previous positive experience with our profile technology: “Our head planner had already used item products to great effect – he’s the one who pointed us in the company’s direction. That’s always the best kind of recommendation.”
Modular ring construction – specially created for the Autostadt Wolfsburg
However, the head planner in question had never worked with item on a project of this size – and this was one big job. 180,000 flip dots cover the ring construction, which boasts a diameter of nearly nine metres and is suspended 3.6 metres in the air. Its dead weight of 2.4 metric tons is pretty impressive, too. These conditions really brought out the best in the modular design of the MB Building Kit System, which helped ensure this pioneering project was a success.
For instance, the entire installation can be dismantled into 44 individual ring segments and easily transported in flight cases. “You could disassemble the construction, pack it up and reassemble it at the drop of a hat,” explains Weickardt. But let’s turn our attention back to the flip dots. How exactly do they work? “The technology isn’t exactly simple,” the engineer tells us with a twinkle in his eye. Flip dots are thin discs, each side a different colour, that are controlled with pinpoint accuracy using magnets. Thanks to this technology, the project team can program writing that moves around the entire ring or even different motifs, offering Autostadt visitors a real 360-degree feast for the eyes.
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