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Dome set for Millennium Experience spectacular

The New Millennium Experience Company is to continue its drip-drip method of unveiling details about the Dome's interior with an announcement next week on the central performance area.

The 'Millennium Show' for the area, being designed by musician Peter Gabriel and architect Mark Fisher, will take place before audiences of 12,000 ranged around the middle of the Dome on banks of seats, around five times per day. Photographs taken by the aj at last week's presentation at the Dome of Zaha Hadid's Mind Zone clearly show a series of six tall red metal structures with stages from which acrobats will dramatically swing across the main area. Up to 200 performers will be involved, accompanied by music and visual effects in what has been described as a 'live carnival from ground level to roof level.'

The zones are in an advanced state of construction, with some, like Living Island by work, just weeks away from completion. The zone humorously explores the British notion of the seaside, with the main entrance wall designed to look like the White Cliffs of Dover. Visitors enter through a 'sewage pipe' in the facade. A mock lighthouse and series of Victorian-esque seaside- parade street lamps are also visible.

Eva Jiricna and Jasper Jacobs' Faith Zone (formerly 'Spirit') sits alongside the massive hulk of Hadid's Mind Zone, its spindly construction ready to receive six canopies from 17m high arches for the haven of tranquillity it will house.

Another peaceful zone, however, is yet to arrive. Designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership, the Rest Zone will get a full press launch later this month. The zone - branded a 'chill-out' space by nmec chief executive Jennie Page - is being fabricated off-site and is to be clad in multi- coloured fibreglass panels. A bridge passes through the middle of the curvaceous structure.

Hadid's Mind Zone, meanwhile, launched last week, will feature a series of artistic and scientific exhibits. The former includes work by the late Helen Chadwick, Richard Deacon (a wooden interlocking cell-like sculpture, 12m by 7m by 600mm) and Ron Mueck. The scientific exhibits include a 'Robot Zoo' of up-to-date machines compared to their predecessors from the Festival of Britain. And four 'morphing' machines will enable visitors to change their image's age, race and gender. The images will be relayed onto the booths' exterior for others to enjoy.

There will also be half a million South American Leaf Cutter ants in the zone, the only living creatures being exhibited in the Dome. They are intended to serve as a metaphor for collective action and thinking, say the organisers.

Content editor for the nmec, Martin Newman, said Hadid's scheme, which features a 32m high central screen, was a 'mind-blowing example of modern architecture that leaves you wondering how it stays upright'. It was fitting that Hadid's first major completed structure in the UK would be in the Dome and he hopes it will be an inspiration for the architects of the future.

The zone will take around 3000 visitors per hour and 1700 at any one time.

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