Thea Awards Recipients

Thea Awards 2021

Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement - Immersive Design for Special Needs Guests

D.R.E.A.M. Centre, Chailey Heritage Foundation, Lewes, UK

Installed as part of the Chailey Heritage Foundation in Lewes, England, the D.R.E.A.M. Centre (D ynamic, R eal, E xperiential, A mazing, M agical) 4D experience zone is a high-touch, virtual, interactive experience specifically designed to cater to children of very limited abilities. This includes people with profound mental and physical conditions who cannot move on their own, nor be left on their own. Because of the physical and neurological conditions of many of the guests, they cannot go out and physically experience much of the world, even in some cases something as simple as a real forest.

The D.R.E.A.M. Centre 4D experience uses virtual settings involving screens, movable panels, and hoists combined with a series of sensory additions often supplied directly by hand. The experience offers the young people the opportunity to choose what they see and where they go within the world and how to interact with it. It is not technically extravagant; however the very high degree of care and curation make this experience remarkable for its target audience. In some cases, tactile stimuli need to be handed directly to the participants by curators because the participants are incapable of controlling their own movements. The delight, even rapture of the children who are offered this experience is profound.

This is a specific audience and one that is often underserved in more standard environments. Many of these guests are so profoundly restricted physically or cognitively that it would not be enough to simply get them access to a standard themed experience. They simply cannot engage. In fact, these environments must be reconfigured to adjust to the needs of particular guests. Here, through this relatively simple application of adaptable screen technology and projection, they are given specific, careful, loving attention as they are taken step by step, by hand, through virtual experiences which they, the audience, can choose and which they clearly find profound, entertaining, and moving. And that is the highest standard we have.

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