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Winning Combination

The Free South video cylinder acts as the centerpiece for Platov Airport’s display installation and helps invoke a sense of place for both domestic and foreign travelers

Built ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Platov International Airport is the primary gateway to the city of Rostov-on-Don and the Rostov Arena — a 45,000-seater stadium used as a host venue during the competition. It is the first greenfield airport to be built in the post-Soviet era, replacing the city’s previous airport.

Designed by London-based Twelve Architects, Platov Airport is one of Europe’s largest new airports, capable of serving up to five million passengers annually. It has quickly become renowned for its visually striking £600m (US$770m) terminal, particularly for the flowing roof, which Twelve Architects designed to mimic the River Don, which cuts through the heart of the region.

Celebrating Cossack Culture

Rostov-on-Don is a city steeped in Russian history and the airport owner — Airports of Regions — wanted to convey this to travelers. It began by naming the airport after local hero Matvei Platov, a leader of the Don Cossacks Army who fought in several wars and was a prominent figure in the Patriotic War with Napoleon in 1812.

To convey the idea of Platov and the Cossacks to passengers, Airports of Regions turned to international design studio Lorem Ipsum, to commission a high-tech, immersive display that would resonate with modern travelers and fit in with the aesthetics of the new terminal.

“We wanted to avoid building a dusty old-school museum,” says Evgeny Krasikov, director, strategic communications, Airports of Regions. “We asked for a series of interactive objects to be installed in various places in the terminal. We wanted them to attract the attention of passengers as they made their way from the check-in desk, all the way through to the boarding gate.”

With the World Cup looming, Airports of Regions needed to complete the project within a four-month timeframe and to a budget of just US$250,000. Lorem Ipsum realized that to capitalize on the environment, installations would need to grab passengers’ attention without demanding too much of their time.

“At an airport, you don’t have a captive audience as everyone is heading somewhere, so we needed to come up with something that was more cutting-edge and off the wall,” explains Abigail Honor, partner at Lorem Ipsum. “We broke down the whole history of the Cossacks and Platov, including his relationship with Napoleon. We also looked at the demographic of the international and domestic sections of the terminal and decided that, with all the different languages spoken by the visitors, it was best not to get bogged-down with verbal narration. Instead, the content had to go beyond the spoken word, with big and bracing installations to match the wonderful architecture of the terminal.”

The Free South

The crown jewel of the Platov exhibition is the giant Free South video cylinder — 9m (29ft) in diameter — which displays original content shot using a Red Helium 8K S35 camera.

Lorem Ipsum spent time with local Cossacks to better understand the culture and to help capture the wilderness surrounding Rostov-on-Don

“The cylinder helps people envision what it would have been like to travel through the Russian steppe 200 years ago,” explains Honor. “The steppe is the wilderness all around Rostov and it’s absolutely stunning. We wanted to create an image that helps you understand what it must have been like for the Cossacks to fight off the Turks and the Tatars, so we spent some time with the Cossacks who still live there and decided to make this a really immersive piece.”

For the content, Lorem Ipsum used a helicopter and an industrial drone equipped with the Red Helium camera to film local Cossacks riding across the steppe. This was edited and condensed to create an artistic and imposing narrative that would capture the traveler’s attention. The display is made even more immersive thanks to the eight-channel audio setup directed at passengers as they stand within the cylinder.

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