The HD Discovery Station is an immersive digital exhibit designed and installed by MESO Digital Interiors for the Kurpfälzisches Museum Heidelberg in 2020. The first version featured the Celtic and Roman settlements of the region and September 2022 saw the addition of an entirely new period: the 1619 renaissance city and the famous siege of 1622.
We were delighted to work with both MESO and the Kurpfälzisches Museum in bringing the renaissance city back to life in this latest phase of development.
The panoramic installation is made up of four large HD screens linked to two interactive control panels. Using game controllers, visitors are able to explore a huge virtual map and to discover the rich history of the region across multiple time periods.
Built in Unreal Engine 4, the HD Discovery Station utilises the latest game design technology. From historical object interactions and exploration of archaeological sites to realtime reconstruction of the 1622 siege, museum visitors can experience Heidelberg’s history in a new and engaging light.
Situated on the picturesque banks of the Neckar River, the early 17th century landscape was painstakingly recreated using a combination of modern LiDAR survey data and a wide variety of contemporary sources.
Much attention was devoted to the natural environment and the range of distinct biomes: dense forest areas of indigenous trees, low lying wetlands, agricultural lands and the steeply planted vineyards which still exist in Heidelberg to the present day.
We worked closely with the experts at the Kurpfälzisches Museum to faithfully recreate the renaissance city and landscape. A primary source of inspiration was the works of Matthäus Merian the Elder, who produced a number of detailed copper plate engravings depicting pre-siege Heidelberg.
Contemporary maps were used to accurately lay out the city plan, roads and rivers of the period. Many artistic references where used, including works by the Flemish landscape painter Jacques Fouquier and sketches by Jan Brueghel the Elder.
The most prominent buildings of the city were individually reconstructed based on archaeological and historical data, as well as contemporary illustrations.
These included the Holy Ghost Church, St Peters Church, the Dominican monastery, the Marshall’s building and armoury, and the city walls, among others.
Particular effort was spent in recreating the Hortus Palatinus, or Garden of the Palatinate. Commissioned in 1614 by Frederick V, Elector Palatine for his new wife, Elizabeth Stuart, this Baroque garden became famous throughout Europe and by 1619 was known as 'Germany's greatest Renaissance garden'.
MESO led the interactive design and implementation of the exhibit, which features a realtime recreation of the 1622 siege.
Via a series of “War Views” placed in strategic vantage points, the user is able to see the transformed city with its extensive siege defences and to watch the final and decisive assault of the Imperial-Spanish forces led by Field Marshall Tilly.