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Responses by A_DA.

Background: The Ancient Olympia: Common Grounds installation was a collaboration between Microsoft and the Hellenic Ministry of Culture & Sport in Athens, Greece, to bring to life the ancient site of Olympia, the home of the first Olympics. The site is a meaningful symbol of cultural unity, harmony, and peace worldwide. We have been long-term experiential partners with Microsoft and, using technologies such as AI, have brought to life some of its most ambitious projects for social good and in the arts and cultural spaces. For A_DA, many of our projects center on digital-first audiences, whether the actual execution is in the digital or physical space.

Design thinking: Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, we thought of Ancient Olympia from a digital-first, 21st-century audience’s perspective. We want to create experiences accessible to global audiences, so when we work in the cultural industry, our clients can expand their missions beyond their walls. More than ever, audiences—particularly younger generations—are mobile-first and demand immersive, story-driven, rich experiences.

We knew the primary touchpoints were digital: the HoloLens 2 mixed reality smartglasses, the website and the mobile AR experience. For the exhibit that we master-planned, we were thrilled to partner with the Athens Olympic Museum to bring all the touchpoints together.

Challenges: The fidelity needed to accurately represent the site and artifacts, many of which do not exist today. We consulted heavily with historical experts for several years—including archaeologists, historical and field experts—to create accurate representations we assembled from site photos and photogrammetry scans, excavator documentation, research articles, and sketched reconstructions. There is a tension between the technology and its current ability to intake, process and render data as well.

Favorite details: We’re incredibly proud of the collaboration it took over several years, particularly during COVID-19, which was challenging to coordinate on many levels. These projects are complex in how they transcend vast arrays of digital and physical touchpoints, and coordinating and aligning with historical accuracy was a considerable effort for teams around the world.

New lessons: What we actually explored in the project was how many ways data could be extrapolated into so many different stories, formats and platforms. It took a lot of effort to scan the site using AI and create the initial models and content, but once we had that dataset, we could create a massive variety of ways to tell stories holistically.

Visual influences: Our influences started from the idea of blending antiquity with a cutting-edge, contemporary language. That visual tension makes it more exciting and feels fresh and unexpected.

a-da.co

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