Augmented Sculpture with Epson projectors

The Four Seasons Hotel in Beirut enchants its guests with projections

Augmented Sculpture with Epson projectors

Beirut is the capital of Lebanon and one of the world's oldest cities. Situated on the Levantine coast of the eastern Mediterranean, it is justifiably known as the "Paris of the Middle East".

The Four Seasons Hotel in Beirut is on the coast and, at 26 stories high, is one of the city's tallest buildings. Its roof terrace is well-known for its unparalleled view over the city, that guests can enjoy in a relaxed setting over dinner.

In order to offer visitors a spectacle appropriate to the venue, the hotel's management decided to commission the firm URBANSCREEN, from Bremen, Germany, to make a permanent installation of its augmented sculpture art on the roof of the building.

The magic of light on the roof terrace

Majo Ussat, manager of the Four Seasons project at URBANSCREEN, describes his first impressions of the installation: "As soon as we received the invitation from the Four Seasons Hotel in Beirut, you could feel a certain excitement in the team. Creating a permanent installation on the rooftop of a five-star hotel was a challenging task for us, and not one that we get every day. After arriving in the evening, we were finally standing in the lounge area on the 26th floor and had a breathtaking view over this extraordinary metropolis on the Mediterranean."

It was a requirement of this project that the installation had to be visible during the day as well as at night. Because the bright Mediterranean sun makes projection impossible, a concept was developed using a sculpture. Only once night falls does the full installation, illuminated by Epson's EB-G6000 installation projectors, appear to the roof terrace's guests, thanks to the projection which makes it come alive.

The specially-made panels of the sculpture are spread out over a surface roughly 11 metres wide – with a total projection area of around 14 metres. One requirement of the installation was that it had to be as simple as possible to run and use, as it was to be operated by hotel staff without extensive training.

Despite wind, salt and dust

Alongside the ease of use, the installation had to be highly reliable. Even very slight physical disturbances to the individual projectors would cause a major distortion in the precisely aligned pictures and ruin the projected image. The devices therefore had to be fastened to particularly sturdy struts in order to prevent any movement of the individual machines caused, for example, by the wind.

The installation, moreover, was attached to the external façade; a location in which summer temperatures, even in the evening, regularly reach around 30 degrees Celsius and that is also affected by dust and salt water. This especially challenging location for attaching a projector system placed severe demands on the planning, installation and, ultimately, the projectors themselves.

URBANSCREEN decided, after comprehensive testing, on two of Epson's G Series devices (EB-G6350), using Softedge to blend the images into one continuous projection. The G Series met URBANSCREEN'S demands to a high degree because it packs a high lumens figure into a compact housing. The small footprint of Epson's projectors also met the client's requirements as, above all, they wanted to avoid the projector installation visually dominating the hotel's roof terrace.

Epson's persuasive technology

"The Epson projectors won us over technically because of their high contrast, deep blacks (important because of the nighttime projection) and their excellent colour reproduction. Their display performance was both brilliant and crisp," continues Ussat.

Another important feature of the projectors was their internal four-corner keystone correction. This corrects any distortion in the image reliably and rapidly, which is very important for easy reproduction of the exact projection, for example, after a routine lamp replacement.

"As of 2013, the projectors have reliably completed their first summer season, despite the conditions, which were not exactly easy, and have attracted a lot of attention.  We're receiving more and more enquiries from all over the world from enthusiastic guests of the roof terrace lounge on the rooftop of the hotel. It's great and gives us really important feedback," concludes Ussat.