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Forest at the edge of the sky: Wētā Workshop celebrates Thea recognition for immersive mall experience | Planet Attractions
     

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Forest at the edge of the sky: Wētā Workshop celebrates Thea recognition for immersive mall experience

Aura: The Forest at the Edge of the Sky is among the outstanding projects to be recognised with a Thea Award, with the Weta Workshop celebrating its achievements in creating the multisensory retail experience




Aura: The Forest at the Edge of the Sky is among a number of projects recognised this year with Thea Awards   Credit: Weta Workshop

New Zealand’s Weta Workshop - famous for producing effects for television and film, as well as those in themed entertainment - is celebrating after being recognised with one of the Themed Entertainment Association’s (TEA) Thea Awards.

Rewarding excellence for the creation of compelling educational, historical and entertainment projects, the Themed Entertainment Association’s (TEA) Thea Awards reinforce the value of experience design and themed entertainment approaches to engaging people worldwide.

Located at the Haikou International Duty-Free Shopping Complex, Hainan, China, Weta has produced Aura: The Forest at the Edge of the Sky - a multisensory experience housed inside a five-storey high, and 50-metre-wide (164ft) atrium.

As visitors move through the space, Forest at the Edge of the Sky immerses them in an environment of sound, music and lighting, all working together to “tell the story of a journey into a magical world” designed to celebrate the natural beauty and ecology of Hainan.

Conscious of the impact of online shopping on retail, the experience aims to draw visitors and capture their imaginations in a retail environment, something it seems to have succeeded in doing with more than 4.5 million people visiting since its opening in October 2022 with spending at the destination increasing by 72.5 percent.

Among its features, the ‘Sky Escalator’ is a tunnel of light and sound set inside the trunk of a giant fallen tree.

Meanwhile, the 35-metre-tall (115ft) ‘Tree of Light’ is an installation made up of 5,000 hand-crafted opalescent orbs, which are lit by 12,500 individually controlled LED lights. These lights are activated as guests move around the tree via a giant interactive spiral staircase.

A five-story LED screen is also part of the experience, taking its place as a focal point of the atrium and telling stories of Hainin through different media. Across the entire atrium, the display is synchronised, creating a visual spectacle for all to see.

“Myself and our team at Weta Workshop along with our construction partner Dafeng are so thrilled that Aura: The Forest at the Edge of the Sky has received this honour, but what has been even more rewarding is seeing the warm response from visitors and the real measurable impact that this project has had for Hainan,” said Richard Taylor, creative director and CEO of Weta Workshop.

“It was so important for us to create something unexpected, and we did this by treating people not as observers, but as active participants in this experience. I believe this win demonstrates that there is immense value in creativity and innovation across all aspects of modern living.”

In addition to working with Dafeng as its construction partner on the project, Weta also worked closely with the client China Duty Free Group (CDF) in what it calls a collaborative effort.

“Aura: The Forest at the Edge of the Sky was a huge opportunity for Weta Workshop to apply our creative thinking to a space that’s not typically seen as an entertainment destination,” said Andrew Thomas, senior creative director of Location Based Experiences at Weta Workshop.

“We were inspired by Hainan’s own natural and cultural environment to create a rich, multi-dimensional location-based experience that has lifted the game globally for modern retail experiences.”


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Forest at the edge of the sky: Wētā Workshop celebrates Thea recognition for immersive mall experience | Planet Attractions
news

Forest at the edge of the sky: Wētā Workshop celebrates Thea recognition for immersive mall experience

Aura: The Forest at the Edge of the Sky is among the outstanding projects to be recognised with a Thea Award, with the Weta Workshop celebrating its achievements in creating the multisensory retail experience




Aura: The Forest at the Edge of the Sky is among a number of projects recognised this year with Thea Awards   Credit: Weta Workshop

New Zealand’s Weta Workshop - famous for producing effects for television and film, as well as those in themed entertainment - is celebrating after being recognised with one of the Themed Entertainment Association’s (TEA) Thea Awards.

Rewarding excellence for the creation of compelling educational, historical and entertainment projects, the Themed Entertainment Association’s (TEA) Thea Awards reinforce the value of experience design and themed entertainment approaches to engaging people worldwide.

Located at the Haikou International Duty-Free Shopping Complex, Hainan, China, Weta has produced Aura: The Forest at the Edge of the Sky - a multisensory experience housed inside a five-storey high, and 50-metre-wide (164ft) atrium.

As visitors move through the space, Forest at the Edge of the Sky immerses them in an environment of sound, music and lighting, all working together to “tell the story of a journey into a magical world” designed to celebrate the natural beauty and ecology of Hainan.

Conscious of the impact of online shopping on retail, the experience aims to draw visitors and capture their imaginations in a retail environment, something it seems to have succeeded in doing with more than 4.5 million people visiting since its opening in October 2022 with spending at the destination increasing by 72.5 percent.

Among its features, the ‘Sky Escalator’ is a tunnel of light and sound set inside the trunk of a giant fallen tree.

Meanwhile, the 35-metre-tall (115ft) ‘Tree of Light’ is an installation made up of 5,000 hand-crafted opalescent orbs, which are lit by 12,500 individually controlled LED lights. These lights are activated as guests move around the tree via a giant interactive spiral staircase.

A five-story LED screen is also part of the experience, taking its place as a focal point of the atrium and telling stories of Hainin through different media. Across the entire atrium, the display is synchronised, creating a visual spectacle for all to see.

“Myself and our team at Weta Workshop along with our construction partner Dafeng are so thrilled that Aura: The Forest at the Edge of the Sky has received this honour, but what has been even more rewarding is seeing the warm response from visitors and the real measurable impact that this project has had for Hainan,” said Richard Taylor, creative director and CEO of Weta Workshop.

“It was so important for us to create something unexpected, and we did this by treating people not as observers, but as active participants in this experience. I believe this win demonstrates that there is immense value in creativity and innovation across all aspects of modern living.”

In addition to working with Dafeng as its construction partner on the project, Weta also worked closely with the client China Duty Free Group (CDF) in what it calls a collaborative effort.

“Aura: The Forest at the Edge of the Sky was a huge opportunity for Weta Workshop to apply our creative thinking to a space that’s not typically seen as an entertainment destination,” said Andrew Thomas, senior creative director of Location Based Experiences at Weta Workshop.

“We were inspired by Hainan’s own natural and cultural environment to create a rich, multi-dimensional location-based experience that has lifted the game globally for modern retail experiences.”


 



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