Professional Lighting & Production - Summer 2017 - Page 30

Dubai City Walk An immersive retail experience for one of the world’s most opulent cities By Michael Raine There are a few cities that stand out in everyone’s minds for their opulence and general over-the-top nature. Las Vegas is certainly one, Tokyo another, but Dubai may be at the top of the list. Extravagance defines the city, which rests on the Persian Gulf coast in the United Arab Emirates and acts as the economic centre of the Middle East. Things are just bigger in Dubai. It has the world biggest mall and the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. So obviously, if you’re hoping to make a statement in Dubai, you need to push the limits. The Dubai City Walk certainly does that, thanks in large part to a pair of Montreal-based companies. With the ambition of creating an im- mersive retail experience that would ri- val the famous Dubai Mall, the world’s largest shopping centre, Dubai-based retail developer Meraas conceived and built the City Walk project. It’s meant to be a destination location, something that will attract residents and tourists alike, with a village-like complex that incorporates shopping, dining, and entertainment. But unlike outlet malls in North America that use the village-style concept, the Dubai City Walk complex is much more than a square of box stores with some trees and patios interspersed. The City Walk is an immersive, multimedia environ- ment that stimulates all the senses through its lavish use of video, lighting, projection, sound, and architecture. Combined with its sheer scale – 34 five- and six-story pavilions that span 85,700 sq. m. with enough video and projection surfaces to cover 12 football 30 • PROFESSIONAL LIGHTING & PRODUCTION fields – the Dubai City Walk is an awe-in- spiring experience. With the original intention of a single focal point with a video feature, Meraas turned to Float4, with offices in Montreal and New York, to handle all content creation, program strategy, and technological infrastructure design. That initial vision, however, expanded exponentially. The project grew to include water screens, 30 LED displays in 21 formats, and 34 hi-res projectors in addition to a complement of lighting fixtures and audio. In all, the installation ended up utilizing 32 video servers that send 100 million pixels of digital content, as well as 23,000 ft. of fibre optics and over 108,000 ft. of video cable. Recognizing that integrating this massive AV system into an already-built complex would require a company with a wealth of experience in large-scale projects in in- ternational markets, the team at Float4 turned to their fellow Montrealers at XYZ Cultural Technology, an AV design, sales, and integration firm. “Alex [Simionescu, Float4 co-found- er and creative director,] is a friend of mine from a long time ago and each time we were meeting each other or just at informal events, I’d say, ‘Hey, how are you? Still working on your interac- tive project?’” recalls Dildel Lavoie, an as- sociate and director of business devel- opment at XYZ, as well as the account director on the City Walk project. “For Float4, it was a first experience in that kind of a huge infrastructure project and every time we were crossing paths, [I was] always explaining where XYZ was because we have evolved as Float4 evolved. At some point, we were kind PHOTOS COURTESY OF FLOAT4 & XYZ CULTURAL TECHNOLOGY