Self Portrait Zone

Interiors & Architecture, Exhibition Design

Architecture and exhibition design for a project housed in the Millennium Dome.

It is difficult to offer a single categorical definition of British–ness. The country represents an immensely diverse mix of cultures, influences and communities. Each citizen carries with him or her different memories, perceptions and experiences—all of them valid, all of them true. The goal for the Millennium Dome’s Self Portrait Zone, therefore, was not to reconcile these differences, but to celebrate them.

The Self Portrait Zone was a microcosm of the Millennium Dome itself, a circular pavilion framed by a kaleidoscope of images wrapped by sheets of translucent and clear glass. This kaleidoscope was known as the “ANDscape.” It was a display of what British people hold dear about their nation—the result of a survey of thousands of British people. They were asked one simple question: Picture how you would like Britain to be beyond the year 2000. If you could choose one thing from today that you believe belongs in that future, what would it be and why? It could be an object, a place, a person, a group of people, a sound, an activity, a piece of music, an institution, a smell or an attitude. It could be something political, emotional, creative or spiritual.

The glass wall of the "ANDscape" rotated on a track system so that the images behind it were viewed through windows in an endless variety of permutations. The Zone drew visitors under the "ANDscape" and guided them up a ramp to the center of the Zone. Here a vertical beam of electric blue light appeared to break through the floor and ceiling of the space. Conceptually this light was the source of the "ANDscape’s" kinetic energy—its epicenter. Physically it was a glowing, ethereal line of orientation, visible from every part of the Zone.

Around this epicenter, long tapering steel reeds appeared to grow from ripples of light in the floor. At their bases children’s voices were heard whispering what the future might bring. Caribiner International was responsible for the content and the project management of the Self Portrait Zone, while the interior of the exhibition was commissioned directly by the New Millennium Experience Company.

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