Geneva, Switzerland

Home of the particle accelerator, CERN science gateway is an iconic, carbon-neutral building designed by world-renowned architects Renzo Piano Building Workshops.

But if you thought only bonafide scientists were invited to Geneva, Switzerland, think again. Positioned as an immersion of discoveries, science, and technologies, the site has recently established an open-to-the-public addition that will attract 300,000 to 500,000 visitors per year.

And with no less than 17 of YIPP’s signature interactives, both young and old will delight in these particle-powered explorations.

Access to science

At the Science Gateway, exhibition spaces are housed in tube-shaped structures, connected by floating glass bridges. YIPP worked on 2 tubes, featuring a unique perspective: Exploring the Unknown shows artists impressions of CERN-inspired studies, while Back to the Big Bang looks at particle recognition since the start of our universe. This second, larger space is where most of YIPP’s interactives are concentrated. Exploring the journey of particles from their inception to today, the subject matter is a pretty large one to unravel.

YIPP chose to break the journey up into manageable pieces, resulting in no less than 17 different multi-media installations and games to choose from.

An exploration of time and space

Upon entry, visitors are greeted by a large screen, which shows a teaser video of the universe they’re about to step into while at the same time showing that the visitor too, is made of stardust.

Interactives are positioned all around and range from information-based touch-screen tablets to the Spark Chamber, somewhat reminiscent of Interstellar’s famous time-bending scene – because how else would you want to see and hear the sparks caused by cosmic rays?

Of course, CERN’s best-known discovery, the Higgs boson, is also featured prominently.

To infinity, and beyond

Those more interested in what lies beyond only need to venture a bit further. The curved walls of the tubular exhibition space offer a fun way to project various aspects of our universe with its stars, galaxies, and nebulas.

Fancy yourself an astronomer? Redshift is a telescope-like instrument that allows your to look at galaxies far, far away and the speed at which they are moving away from us. By analysing their light spectrum, we can determine how far away a subject matter is. The further towards red, the further away it is. Is our universe crimping or expanding?

Want to know the exact distance from your home to the next star? Parallax features a way to measure it, by rotating and angling a screen and lining it up just right. Guided by sounds, you can find out the distance to your favourite star. Or will you be the next Exoplanet discoverer? Find new life by looking at stars and measuring their light intensity. Does a star appear to blink? There may be a planet circling it, much like we and our cosmic system circle our star, the sun.

The Big Bang Theory

In the third section, visitors are invited to look at the little things that became big, the building blocks of our existence. The challenge here was how to keep everything scientifically accurate, while also being fun for visitors. Working together with CERN’s specialists and the team at Tinker Imagineers, YIPP created installations based on the experiments led at the institute. Some of the questions tackled are: What is a proton and how can we mix them? How can we produce and store antimatter? And what exactly does E=MC2 really mean for us?

The Dutch touch

YIPP was one of four creative studios chosen to execute the European pitch for the “CERN Science Gateway lot 2” in a consortium with Tinker Imagineers, BRUNS, and Mansveld. This fully-Dutch lineup worked together with CERN’s team on concepts, designs, building, and installation in Geneva. From the stunning architecture to the array of subject matters and copious interactives, YIPP is very proud to be a part of this first real endeavour by CERN to open its doors and invite the public in the form of a visitors centre. It’s a must-visit for any science-enthusiast.

Want to know more about this project or have a similar project in mind that we can help you with? Get in touch with Wouter Verbiest (wouter.verbiest@yipp.nl).