In something of an understatement, Derek Elliott says that working on Ocean World Aquarium in Shanghai was fun.
A 60m x 60m concrete box had already been constructed under a lake in the middle of the city, and as part of a £25 million project, Kay Elliott Architects was given the job of project design, layout and fit-out of a brand new sea-life 'experience' within the shell's structure.
Apparently, the Chinese are not yet great air travellers (their poor air traffic accident record does not help), and so, as part of the adventure of the new visitor attraction, Kay Elliott proposed a flight to different areas of the world to see the aquarium exhibits in their 'natural environments'. The building is disguised as an airport terminal, complete with a huge waiting area, lounge and even a destination display board with locations flipping over place names.The visitors, in carefully designated plane loads, enter a jumbo jet fuselage (built in the UK specifically for this project), to get a 'real' flight, including TV monitor lift off and information of where they are going.
After a short flight, they disembark in the high Andes, move down through the Amazon; drop into the world of ocean corals and move through to Antarctica. A dramatic, clear acrylic tube then takes them under the lake into an existing building, refurbished to resemble a boat for the 'voyage' home.
Kay Elliott supervised the 12-month construction work on site.
The completed scheme is now attracting more than two million visitors a year.