The cosmos has aroused great interest among people for centuries. Even today, now that technological advancements have allowed us to discover many of its secrets, plenty of things remain unknown to us. The EC1 Planetarium in Łódź is the most modern facility of this type in Poland and Central and Eastern Europe. Its goal is to provide us with available knowledge about the Universe in the most attractive and accessible form. However, in addition to taking visitors on a journey into the cosmos, the Planetarium offers a variety of shows on scientific topic other than astronomy. Here you can also watch popular science films, music films such as “The Wall” by Pink Floyd, and even participate in live concerts set in beautiful scenery displayed above your head with planets, stars and galaxies.
As the general contractor for the project, we were responsible for delivering modern solutions to turn the splendid vision into reality.
The challenge we faced when designing and implementing the Planetarium and 3D Cinema project at the EC1 Science Centre in Łódź was to equip the Planetarium dome with a 14 m diameter screen and the 3D Cinema dome with a 9.5 m diameter screen. Our role included design and construction work, acoustic adaptation, interior design and fit-out, lighting system, ventilation system, projection system, planetary system, effect sound system and central control system.
In both facilities we used the “fulldome” projection system. Six VPLL-Z1024PK projectors mounted near the edges of the spherical screen and synchronized with each other made it possible to display the image in 8K resolution for the Planetarium, while six Barco F50 projectors made it possible to display the image in 4K resolution for the 3D Cinema. The effect of these solutions was an enhanced viewing experience with full immersion in the projection. In addition, we used 3D stereoscopic projection in the 3D Cinema room, and ensured that the Planetarium dome could be easily extended with a 3D projection.
We have created an effect sound system consisting of 6 separate channels. It guarantees an even sound coverage for the auditorium with the same intensity and colour, as well as an appropriate clarity of the reader’s speech. In addition, visitors can use wireless headsets to hear different language versions of the presentation. The Planetarium service crew has two sets of wireless microphones.
To ensure maximum viewer comfort, the Planetarium has been equipped with comfortable, recliner armchairs, spaced to fit the shape of the auditorium. In addition, the armchairs are equipped with discreet lamps for use during symposia. Soft sofas have been installed in the 3D Cinema, their size adapted to ensure comfort for children and teenagers.
Projection and sound is controlled by the Digistar and Crestron systems. The systems are operated from futuristic control stands located within both rooms. These stands have been equipped with control panels, monitors and an audio console. As part of the project, the Planetarium and the 3D Cinema were equipped with a set of ready-made shows and dedicated software for the production of customised programmes and shows. In addition, shows can be controlled by means of wireless touch panels, whose intuitive interface makes it possible to enter all the settings required at a particular time.
General lighting in both rooms was designed in the DALI system. DMX bus is used to control LED RGB cove lights which shine on the screen as well as lighting for auditorium steps and technical service stands.
As it is critical to maintain proper temperature in the technical room by means of specialist air conditioners, temperature is monitored from the Planetarium’s technical room. In the event of adverse conditions, a silent alarm is triggered on the touch panel.
The design and execution of the Planetarium and 3D Cinema project in EC1 Łódź was a highly challenging, but also a very rewarding task. Working on the project was an honour and privilege as well as an opportunity that we wished to use to the maximum. We hope that our work will help spark the passion in many generations of future explorers of the cosmos to discover the secrets of the stars.