The Zero One Tech festival 2018 was one of the most memorable projects the Afternaut team worked on. More than just an exhibition, the Zero One Tech Festival is a placemaking project that merges technology and sites with old uses into something valuable.
The forum was where keynote presentations, panel discussions and other presentations were held.
Bringing a multi-disciplinary team together
One of the biggest challenges of the project was working together with a multidisciplinary team of planners, architects, operators, technological consultants, manufacturers, designers, and the clients. Afternaut brought together the architectural team from Formwerkz and our branding team to create and curate everything to do with the festival — from the brand identity to the 140m tall totem pole at the site entrance, to the major booths at the festival, as well as turning an old glass factory into a place that celebrates how technology makes our lives better without us even knowing it.
Architects worked on the award-winning tower (left), branding specialists worked on the logo and branding materials (top right), and our experience and spatial designers worked on some of the booths (bottom right).
Selecting the right site
Normally big tech festivals are held in expo halls or exhibition centres. But we wanted the Zero One tech festival to stand out. Zero and one are the numbers in the binary system, and we also wanted it to represent how a space can be transformed from nothing (zero) to a vibrant festival (one). So we chose a site that would usually be overlooked but has a deep cultural significance in the community. Tech is a big part of our lives and will be even more so in the future, thus it shows how old sites can be given new life and still be relevant to our future.
The main stage had screens on the ceiling and sides showing live posting on social media, and also offered translations during panel discussions.
Curating the festival
The festival site was in a remote part of Shenzhen so we had to create a huge pull factor. We also had to compete with the more than 180 other tech festivals being held in Shenzhen that year. Thus curating the festival was important.
The theme of the festival was “second nature” — we wanted to demonstrate how the existence of technology and the way we use it should be second nature to the people using them. Technology shouldn’t be something intimidating, overwhelming, or hard to understand. If more people love technology, then Zero One Tech Festival would have achieved its objectives.
For it to really benefit humans, we should be easily able to pick up new forms of technology and live our lives with even more convenience. We didn’t want to be yet another technology festival that just displays the latest technologies that would only make sense to experts. So we focused on creating great experiences in the festival to show the types of technology that can easily be a part of people’s lives. (Read our case study to see what experiences we created).
We conceptualised and brought to life the booth for home security brand Puppy, who were launching at the festival.
Highlights of the tech festival
One of the main highlights of the festival was the seamless wall and ceiling digital screens in the main forum stage area. People from all over the world tuned in to the programmes happening on stage and simultaneous live-streaming was being done. Visitors were also posting live images of themselves at the festival and these were shared on the screens as well. Creating these great experiences immersed visitors in the wonders and convenience of technology.
The seamless wall and ceiling digital screens are designed to captivate the audience and display live translations during keynote speeches.
Through this project, we also developed an admiration for the speed at which the Chinese people work. The interactive floor in the main hall was still being set up the day before the official opening of the festival and we were all panicking. The contractor calmly told us, don’t worry, we’ll get it done. In less than 10 hours, they had finished setting and testing the interactive floor, one of the other highlights of the festival.
Turning the old machine hall into a exhibition booth area
Placemaking for the future
Reflecting on this exciting festival makes us realise how much we missed in-person events. The crowd emits a kind of vibrancy we didn’t feel during the pandemic. Modular designs can be a good solution to future placemaking efforts. Not only will they be able to adapt to people’s changing needs, when situations change, modular designs will be flexible enough to adapt as well. Hopefully with solutions like these, we can gather together with other people more often.