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What Happens when a Digital Travel Site goes Physical?

Shishang Architecture designs a physical destination for e-commerce luxury travel startup ZANADU that offers fresh possibilities for how travellers may book and experience their vacations in time to come.

What Happens when a Digital Travel Site goes Physical?

Besides offering affluent Chinese travellers access to high-end travel products, e-commerce premium travel startup ZANADU employs a variety of digital media, such as WeChat, films, and 360-degree virtual reality (VR) videos to educate the young Chinese travel market on the different aspects of luxury vacations. For instance, VR videos enable customers to ‘experience’ destinations prior to booking them.

When offered a space at the newly-opened Shanghai Village in Shanghai, China, ZANADU recognised that its inaugural brick-and-mortar space had to expand upon the experiential vision of its online platform where innovative storytelling tools are paramount in conveying its travel offerings.

Shishang Architecture was engaged to design the 600-square-metre space. Apart from reflecting the brand’s youthful image, the designers’ challenge was to portray an online brand within a physical environment. Revolving around the concept of ‘The Travel Agency of the Future’, 20 ‘pixelated’ structures fitted with touchscreen monitors showcase popular destinations and travel stories in an interactive manner to engage visitors. The cubes stack atop one another to create a digital landscape, portraying the brand’s digital origin.

Naturally, the aesthetics of the space is technologically-driven and futuristic, yet it remains intimate and personable with the integration of welcoming colours. Five large digitally-stylised hanging structures spotlight the VR area as the central focus of the space, inviting visitors to take a seat and begin their virtual travel journey. While VR experiences are quieter and internalised as users wear VR glasses, the designers placed extra care to ensure that the area is comfortable, exciting and immersive.

Enhancing the audio-visual experience, two 10-metre wide projection screens and a surround sound system play out short travel videos. Bridging the physical and digital world, customers can also access ZANADU’s online platform in the store via WeChat and QR codes.

Photographer by Sui Sicong

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