Case study lave centre, iceland nov 17

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| Lava Centre, Iceland

Not much on earth can match the wonder and ferocity of a volcano. Paul Milligan visited a new museum in Iceland tasked with educating visitors on this natural phenomenon.

Fire and ice


hey say every cloud has a silver

came when one of the founders of the project,

We have learnt from years of experience that if people participate they will learn much faster, and the experience is much greater for them.

Ole Gunnar Sigardsson was stranded in Florida

- Hringur Hafsteinsson, Gagarin

lining, and in the case of the Lava Centre in the town of Hvolsvöllur in Iceland, it’s certainly true. The inspiration for the museum

during the ash cloud eruption in 2010. All the American TV coverage was beamed from his

Iceland Air and the National Bank of Iceland to

different companies who could provide us with

native land and it led him to wonder why there

invest in tourist attractions outside of Reykavik.


wasn’t something back home to represent the

The town of Hvolsvöllur was chosen because

The whole concept for the Lava Centre is

island’s incredible natural landscape. Ádbjörn

of its close proximity to five active volcanoes,

based on a script written by leading Icelandic

Björgvinsson, the director of sales and marketing

but it is also situated on a main road through

geoscientist Ari Trausti Gudmundsson. It was

for the Lava Centre, was brought on board

which 60% of all tourists drive past during their

then over to Reykjavík-based interactive media

early on after successfully setting up The Whale

stay on the island. To help keep costs low, the

agency Gagarin to transform that in to a modern-

Museum in northern Iceland in the late 1990s.

museum owners lease the building from a local

day visitor attraction.

He takes up the story; “In the beginning I said we

builder (who self-financed the build) to ensure

the AV part of the project was Reykjavík-based

cannot go half way, we have to create a unique

the initial funding could sustain a few years

integrator Feris. “I’m driven by passion, I don’t

experience, a unique building, which will capture

before investors needed to see a return. Once

own any of the museum,” says Björgvinsson “I

people’s attention, which will make people come

the building began to take shape it was down to

don’t gain financially if it goes well. I want to

to us. You don’t send tourists to a location,

Björgvinsson to find the right people to make the

create something unique and leave something

they will go where they want to go. We had

interior come alive. “We started off by finding

behind for the community. I feel like Feris put

to create a presentation on how we thought it

one of the best architects in Iceland (Basalt) at

their hearts into what they are doing.

would all work, because if I couldn’t sell it to the

interpreting buildings within nature. We then

was the key reason we decided to work with

investors how was I going to sell it to tourists?”

touched base with the geology department at

Feris and Gagarin. We went through the same

Björgvinsson said it took about a year to get the

the University of Iceland, the Met Office, the

presentation to Feris that we gave to investors.

funding, with the crucial element coming from

local police and the authorities. When we knew

We told them what we wanted to achieve, and

the Iceland Tourism Fund, which was setup by

what we wanted to install we started talking to

they swallowed the ideas whole, they wanted >

38 | November 2017

Tasked with taking on



| Lava Centre, Iceland

> to create something unique too. From the very beginning they were fully on board, and quickly came up with creative solutions on how we could realise all the ideas we had in our minds.” Hringur




Gagarin, was keen for visitors to be immersed in the exhibition from the off.

“Even in the

very first exhibit, we have sensors with triggered

We want to be the centre for information when the next eruption happens, we want people to come here to learn what to do when you have an eruption. - Ádbjörn Björgvinsson, Lava Centre

sound, so that you become a part of it. From

On entering the Volcano Corridor you are met

difficult to do because the 4K projector had an

there we tried to make every exhibit interactive,

by lighting jutting out of the wall. The specially

aspect ratio of 16:9, and the ceiling height was

so you are in control. We have learnt from years

designed pieces of wood (each home to 3 LEDs)

low, so the selection of lenses made it difficult to

of experience that if people participate they will

represent a timeline of eruptions in Iceland. The

find the correct distance from the lamps, so we

learn much faster, and the experience is much

LED effects are being driven by Raspberry Pi’s

had to use a mirror again to cover the distance.”

greater for them.”

connected via the network to one PC.

The room also houses a 9.3 x 3.3-metre screen

Visitors to the Lava Centre are greeted in the

The Creation of Iceland room features a giant

foyer by a large table showing the seismic activity

metal rail with a projected dome surface inside


of different volcanic systems in Iceland using

(a Vivitek 4K 10,000 lumens projector providing

opposite the screen. By standing on one of three

real-time data. The map is produced by two

the images is hidden above). When users move

chosen spots the floor begins to rumble (driven by a

Vivitek projectors edge-blended

the rail a black/white pattern (printed on the

ButtKicker under each panel) and different content


together with Vioso Anyblend.

underside of the rail) triggers a sensor which

(Shearing, Magma movements and Drifting plates)




communicates from a nearby PC to the dome.

appears on the screen in front of each spot.

Audac WX and MERO speaker series and subwoofers

projectors provide the image

By turning the wheel visitors learn that Iceland

The next sensation for visitors is found in the



with two Vivitek projectors (again blended using There are three standing positions

via bespoke mirrors (something

was created when tectonic-plates drifted over a

Earthquake Corridor, where an erupting volcano

AudioTechnica Active WL antennas, combiners and splitters

Feris had to commission after

stationary Mantle plume that lies underneath the

is relayed via a wildly vibrating floor. In another



island today. Hafsteinsson was worried initially

innovative use of AV technology, instead of using

Danley DTS10 and TH212I subwoofers

idea of the projectors pointing

that having multiple people wanting to turn the

a more traditional effect like a ButtKicker, Feris

OnPointAudio OPA series speakers


Seven iiyama

wheel at the same time would turn it in to a

installed two Powersoft M-Force transducers

Panphonics directional speakers and amplifiers

screens accompany the table to

battle, “but in reality it has been just like any

fitted on the X and Y axle of a wooden platform,

display more real-time data.

other human behaviour, if you enter a room full

these are driven by two Powersoft M-Drive

of people they instantly give you attention, they


give you space, and even create a dialogue.”

response to the earthquake audio file. Under the

Peavey MediaMatrix NION n3 Powersoft M-Drive amp, Ottocanali and Quattrocanali DSP



To take in the full show, which takes around 30 minutes must

This exhibit had been in the plans for the

Presonus 4 and 8 channel USB sound cards

navigate through four corridors

venue since the very beginning, but also created

Sennheiser EW series wireless microphones

and four rooms, all filled with a

a number of issues for Feris, as the company’s

wide variety of AV tech.

manager, Jakob Kristinsson explains.

40 | November 2017




“It was





platform sits a Danley DTS10 sub, which is used to create a deep audio rumble. The next section called The Mantle Plume is centred on a 12-metre tall sculpture.



| Lava Centre, Iceland

proved to be the biggest challenge for Feris, as

features 270-degree projection, with the total

it involved the arduous and time-consuming

projection surface measuring 28-metres wide

Peavey MediaMetrix.

install (by hand) of 1.3km of NeoPixel LEDs. The

by 3-metres high.

It is driven by 8,000 lumens

fed into the NION n3 unit for processing and

exterior of the plume is a thin, stretchy material

Vivitek projectors. Like the display in the Creation

level management. The 7.1 cinema system is

created especially by a British tailor, but it was

of Iceland room, there are five interactive spots

processed and managed by the NION, control of

the interior, where the LEDs are held together

around the room, at each one visitors point to

this takes place over a Kiosk GUI and in addition

with a wire mesh, that caused headaches. “It

specific areas on the screen to activate content.

a Crestron system has access to all user controls,

was a mammoth task,” says Kristinsson, “It took

A Microsoft Kinect sensor, housed in a small

presets, level, mutes etc hosted by the NION.

one month to attach the LEDs as we couldn’t

box on the floor, facilitates the gesture control.

The Lava Centre has seen more than 30,000

glue them because of the heat, so we had to

At each touch point there is also a directional

visitors in its first three months of opening. An

use 15,000 wax rubbers instead.” Control of

speaker to dispense atmospheric sound.


extension of the site has already been discussed,

the sculpture is by Raspberry Pi’s and Teensy

content is based on all the volcanoes near to

and there is also the possibility of using the roof

controllers (a USB microcontroller system),


For the content Gagarin started

as a viewing platform for the Northern Lights,

with Gagarin providing the programming of

with some of its own photos and composed a

and offering the venue for private hire in the

the controllable LEDs in the sculpture.

Audio in the Lava Centre is managed by All Sennheiser mics are


panoramic image using Houdini FX software to

evenings. “My vision is that we expand it in

visitors reach the next room, called Volcanology,

create the animation, which is shown in a 10-min

the future, by adding more components,” says

they have to pass the Magma Corridor, a space full

cycle ending with an eruption.

Björgvinsson. “We want to be the centre for

Tech-Spec Video Audipack projector ceiling mounts and mirror rigs iiyama TF2234MCBX3, TF3237MSC-B3AG, X2481HS-B1 and LH4281S-B1 touchscreens

of mist and eerie atmospheric

The final piece of content is found inside the

information when the next eruption happens, we

Volcanology features

cinema room (which doubles as a presentation space),

want people to come here to learn what to do

nine iiyama touchscreens, each

it features a Vivitek 4K 10,000 lumens projector

when you have an eruption. We don’t want to

fitted with localised audio

shining on a 6.3x3.6-metre Stewart Filmscreen

meet expectations, we want to exceed them, that

and a clever control system.

Phantom screen with 7.1 surround sound.

is the key to the future success of this project”.


The whole screen is touchenabled but Feris has installed

Microsoft Kinect ONE sensors

a U-shaped slider at the side

Stewart Filmscreen Fixed Phantom HALR screen

of each screen, so the main

Vioso AnyBlend Dual

display stays fingerprint-free.

Vivitek DU8090Z DU8190Z and DK8500Z projectors

As you slide your finder down


from the top of the U the video

Bosch Security DIVAR IP 5000 server, FHD cameras and Flexidome 7000 360° IVA 12MP camera Crestron, CP3e Control unit

and audio changes in time to your touch. To make it to the next room you have to travel through

Raspberry’s PI3 + Controller’s for Neopixel Led control

the Tephra Corridor, which

Samba PLC control unit for Laser sensors and PIR detectors

effect of falling ash. The next

42 | November 2017




room, called Mountain View,

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