A heartfelt experience
Client: Heart Foundation
An interactive experience to educate, engage and excite the communities and build pride with staff.
The Heart Foundation approached us to create an enhanced visitor experience for the ground floor of their Auckland premises. They wanted an experience to connect them with their communities, through education and by fostering open conversations about heart health. It also needed to support staff, helping reinforce the huge impact their hard work is having.
With a long list of content requirements - ranging from explaining how a heart works to detailing the history of the Heart Foundation - our challenge was telling the Heart Foundation story in an engaging and interactive way.
Two early decisions drove our spatial thinking. The first decision was our theme, Heart to Heart, which saw the content grouped into three areas:
- the physical heart;
- heartfelt conversations; and
- the Heart Foundation.
The second decision was to place the pou, a tekoteko figure carved by Rangi Skipper representing the bicultural relationship between the Heart Foundation and Te Hotu Manawa Māori now known as Toi Tangata. As a result, three storytelling zones were created, intersecting at the pou. A 3D VR model was developed to carefully consider the arrangement of storytelling sequencing, sightlines and traffic flows. This same model helped the Heart Foundation team understand our vision and supported their fund raising efforts for the experience.
The first zone, to the left of the main entrance, uses technology to educate on the physical heart. The giant two metre polycarbonate red heart immediately grabs the visitor’s attention. The clever use of 3D projection offers a realistic depiction of a beating heart, enhanced by the addition of sound.
On the wall behind the beating heart sits a full-sized interactive screen that takes users through the mechanics of the heart. Using a ‘house’ analogy to make it simple for audiences, the walls, electrics and plumbing of the heart are explained, along with the cause of common heart conditions and their potential solutions. Given the complex content, the focus was on designing and testing intuitive UX and UI that allows users to control the direction and pace of their experience. The user experience was so simple that Medical Director, Dr Gerry Devlin, commented that “every heart specialist should have access to this resource to explain how the heart works to their patients.”
The second zone, to the right of the entrance and behind reception, focuses on human conversations. The hero of the space is the video wall featuring four people whose lives are impacted by heart conditions. The videos deliberately dial up the emotion, speaking directly to audiences about the consequences of not looking after your heart. This is further reinforced in the central display stand, with a series of facts about staying heart healthy, including an animated quiz. The seating area supports users taking the time to read and consider the information. The conversation is concluded with audiences being offered positive steps they can take to improve their own heart health.
The third zone, across the back wall and around the corner, tells the Heart Foundation story. Central to the story is a clever timeline graph, depicting 50 years of activities that have contributed to a 75% reduction in the rate of heart related death. Next to this, an interactive screen offers a series of stories on the life-saving research that has spear-headed this reduction. Around the corner, in the open communal space, Heart Foundation’s day-to-day impact is showcased with community photography. A framed tapa cloth, gifted by the community, provides a fitting end to the experience.
The key design approach is led by a traditional Māori weave, representing the dynamic flow of blood and energy. The colour red, and heart shapes, are used with prominence to connect the experience to the Heart Foundation and to add warmth to the space. The faces of the community take pride-of-place throughout, providing a real connection to, and for, locals.
The Heart Foundation, and their community, are delighted with the experience. Discussions are already underway about how to expand the experience, by telling further stories and making it accessible to more health professionals and communities throughout New Zealand.