Friday, September 16, 2011

Thessaloniki Metro stand at 76th International Fair, by Tetragon Ltd.

This is the third time Tetragon design the stand of Thessaloniki Metro. Winning the tender of the particular competition is not easy, as all major competitor companies from Greece vie for it. The reason is not only the relatively high budget of the project, but mainly the chance to deliver a modern, sophisticated design with elements usually not found in other exhibits featured in Thessaloniki International Fair.

This time the concept was more ambitious then before: first of all there is a clear separation of the stand space, by colour blocking, into two distinct areas: the reception and media area, in anthracite grey and the display area, all in white. All these are framed by a hanging L-shaped ceiling element, with recessed lighting. The result is surprisingly minimal but imposing.

The map of the main Metro line, as well as the future expansions, is always the main display of the stand. This year it was put on a reclining table, emerging from the floor as if being peeled away, revealing the ground below it, a direct reference to the excavations of the Metro taking place throughout the city. Lava pellets were used instead of soil, giving a brilliant earthen colour. Through it, three 17" screens emerge, projecting slide-shows of ancient artefacts discovered in the excavations. The map itself is printed on backlit canvas. On its left a literature holder contains the company's brochure.

The main attraction of the stand is the display behind the map. A geometric simulation of the two distinct tunnels of the main line (one for each direction) becomes a double back projection of a film made in the real tunnels (footage was shot by me, the editing done by Icon 4D), giving a chance to the public to catch a glimpse of what is going on under their feet. One can see the TBM at work as well, an imposing spectacle indeed (and one of the best experiences this work has ever given me). The "tunnels" are set on a wall featuring inclined white beams, with a printed soil section photo set between them, giving a sense of them being actually underground.

To complete the media onslaught, a set of 2X2 seamless LED screens feature a small video showing footage with various works in three different stations of the main line, Railway Station, University Station and Euclides Station. I was lucky enough to visit all three and film footage for the video there. In this area, the reception is located, right across the stand from the screens, with a display featuring the lava pellets and the miniature safety helmets of the Metro workers, given as a memento at the stand.

The graphics are simple: there is a huge print of the city's grid plan in black and white that starts from the front of the stand and goes on covering part of the back walls. On this plan, another map, a simple geometric layout of the main line and expansions is featured, as well as a sign with the parent company's (Attiko Metro) name on it. A similar background is used for the back side canvas cover, made at the last minute, when we found out that it would remain empty as no other stand would be erected behind it. Three backlit columns frame the right side of the stand, featuring photos at various work-sites of the Thessaloniki Metro. I designed these, making a jagged line to separate the photos, alluding to the letter "M" of the Metro but also giving a hint of a pulse sign, alluding to the activity of the sites. 

The stand was designed by architect Ilias Papadopoulos, one of the three Tetragon Ltd. partners. The stand was constructed by Tetragon Ltd. Film footage for the stand media, slideshow production and graphics by Stratos Bacalis for Tetragon Ltd. Video editing and production by Icon 4D. Audiovisual equipment by M-Spirit. Graphics printed and placed by Whale Graphics. Stand photos courtesy of Stratos Bacalis.