Designing a new aviation-themed park in China
by Daryl Leblanc, AIA – Stantec Design Principal, Architect Greg Meyer, PLA – Stantec Design Principal – Landscape Architect
Stories have defined our world since the dawn of communication – in architecture, carefully-crafted stories based on themes and messages can help an independent brand engage guests and create a compelling and memorable experience. The intent of creating an entertaining venue begins with the opportunity to write well-defined storylines about what we want the visitor to know, feel and do. This process helps to establish the experience of place and how design has the capability to captivate an audience emotionally, retain their attention and create a compelling experience.
ABOVE IMAGE: Master plan for The World of Aviation in Xi’an, China. Renderings courtesy of Stantec.
Storytelling played an essential role throughout the design of The World of Aviation – the unique, new, flight-inspired theme park in Xi’an, China. Our team at Stantec was contracted directly by the developer and took The World of Aviation through conceptual design, targeting the park to both locals and tourists while anticipating annual attendance of 3.5 million visitors per year.
Our team set out to develop branding, and an integrated network of surrounding opportunities to repeatedly draw guests to the park. The excitement, fun and loyalty associated with theme parks helps develop and capitalize upon this new market. It will capture the passion for flight and build on the experience and romance that travel offers by connecting guests to the aviation experience. The result is a series of carefully crafted stories that provide distinct experiences as the guest’s journey progresses through themes of discovery, adventure, imagination and innovation. We collaborated with the client by facilitating workshops to exchange ideas about their vision, and to create a framework to establish their desired goals. Helping our clients create a strong brand for their businesses allows us to better align our design to make their project successful.
Ready for takeoff
The 158-acre park is part of an integrated resort, including retail, dining, entertainment and a hotel. We were responsible for masterplanning, visioning, architecture and brand development for the park. Using a hub-and-spoke design model, we aimed to guide the guest through the splendor of aviation: romantic visions of days gone by, the majesty of winged creatures of all sizes, travels from around the world and the latest in advanced aeronautics technology.
The excitement begins upon arrival to the Aviator’s Concourse as the guest prepares to take flight. The Concourse is the park’s gateway where commerce and flight combine to create a unique retail, dining and entertainment complex that evokes the excitement and glamour of globe-trotting by jet.
The journey continues to a breathtaking vista amidst the clouds. We called this Big Sky, and it is the heart of the World of Aviation. It marks the guest’s initial takeoff point – creating an immersive experience as they leave the ground to soar among the clouds. Customized vistas showcase each of the four realms of flight. Guests find themselves in a place that is exhilarating and yet relaxing.
Flight and Discovery
Once guests reach the end of the Aviator’s Concourse and become oriented with the park layout, the excitement and romance of the Golden Age of Flight awaits them in the Land of Discovery. Upon entering, the guest steps back into time amidst the hustle and bustle of a thriving city in South China where something extraordinary is happening among the alleys and side streets. Engines are humming as the new industry of commercial flight is on the precipice
of changing not only China, but the entire world. These are the pioneering days of aviation, when new air routes shrank the Middle Kingdom and tigers leapt in the air to defend her skies.
After guests have traveled through the Land of Discovery, they embark on a globetrotting adventure. Within Adventure Landing, they learn how flight has enabled mankind to further explore the uncharted corners of the world. With the ability to travel anywhere, exploration of new terrains and climates become possible for the intrepid explorers and adventurers who pioneered aviation. Leap to the present and this capability is now accessible to everyone who has ever dreamed of seeing the wonders of the world. This is a land of travel, where you set out on an adventure to exotic and unique locations throughout the world. Guests explore the remarkable beauty of natural wonders and the splendor of historic capitals. Adventure Landing enables guests to become world travelers and experience how flight has changed exploration and made the world more accessible than ever.
Inspiration and engagement
After the thrilling experiences within Adventure Landing, guests are transported to a realm where Dreams of Flying like a bird come to life. Inspiration Village is a place touched by nature where people soar into the sky not with engines but with graceful wings. In the realm of Inspiration, nature is the focal point and guests are exposed to the natural world that inspired our desire to take flight.
With the worlds of Discovery, Adventure and Inspiration fully engaging our guests in these past and present eras of flight, we pass through to The Future of Flight. The history of aviation has extended over more than 2,000 years, from the earliest forms of aviation, kites and attempts at tower jumping, to supersonic and hypersonic flight powered by the latest jet and rocket engines. Guests experience the accomplishments made possible by new ideas, innovations, success, and progress – all crucial in the advancement of aviation. Innovation Labs is a vision of the latest in aviation technology and a glimpse of the future of flight.
As designers, we continue to explore ways to improve the guest experience by combining interpretive education with entertainment. Focusing on stories helps us connect visitors who seek to explore and learn more about culture, history, and the natural environment with each destination. We use stories and interpretation to educate about the value of these resources and the significant importance of preserving these resources for future generations to experience and enjoy. By combining these elements in an authentic and entertaining experience, we can deliver on the brand promise established by the vision and mission of our clients. •