Once upon a time there was a Fortress

Client Brief

Sant'Agata Feltria, the capital of fairy tales

Sant'Agata Feltria, a hilly town on the outskirts of Rimini, has a small castle that looks like something out of a fairy tale. Rocca Fregoso is the name of this medieval (12th century) fortress. After it changed owners several times and was used for a variety of purposes, it has now become municipal property.

Following major restoration work, it was decided that the fortress would become the first museum that is dedicated to fairy tales. The inspiration came from Professor Antonio Faeti, a former professor of History of Children's Literature at the University of Bologna and a successful writer with over 40 published books. He also has strong family, as well as sentimental, ties to the area. Professor Faeti's project "Rocca delle Fiabe" sparked the interest of the city and the visitor's bureau of Sant'Agata Feltria, and they collaborated with the Province of Rimini and the Emilia Romagna Region.

The goal was to create a space with a strong interweaving of communication, multimedia technology and craftsmanship, in order to promote Sant'Agata Feltria as the "fairy tale capital", as Professor Faeti has described the small town.

We at Touchwindow were tasked with developing interactive digital environments, which would bring to life the emotions of the great fairy tales of the Grimm brothers, Charles Perrault, Gianni Rodari and many others, by using the magic of multimedia storytelling.


Experience a fairy tale

The project was to create a place where fairy tales could be researched, defended, safeguarded, and interpreted. This was not to be a simple exhibition, but a space full of experiences that would allow visitors, young and old, to enter the world of fairy tales, "immortal myths that tell us about the history of man, and that are a legacy not only for children, but for adults as well.

The plan provided for the progressive creation of four spaces, each dedicated to a theme and developed in such a way as to integrate physical and digital elements. The idea was to recreate the wonders of fairy tales and childlike amazement.


Digital Environment and sense of wonder

The project had us working with the client to define the elements of the experience that we wanted to give the public.

In particular, we needed to design the hardware and software for the different "rooms".

The first room, called "Scarpe, scarpine, scarpette, scarpettine” (Shoes, little shoes, baby shoes, little baby shoes), presents the theme of the “Fanciulla Perseguitata” (Persecuted Maiden). The narrative thread starts with dancing shoes, donated by Salvatore Ferragamo, and ends with the classic Cinderella Ball, which celebrates the classic "...and they all lived happily ever after" of every fairy tale.

It was precisely for this last space that we created a system of full-wall projections that transformed the Rocca into a large ballroom, inspired by fantastic imaginary places and the magnificence of the Palace of Versailles.

Also, for the other rooms, dedicated respectively to the themes "Del Solitario Castellano” (the Solitary Castellan), "Del Viaggiatore Incantato” (the Enchanted Traveler) and "Dei Fanciulli nella Foresta" (the Children in the Forest), we developed interactive stations, immersive projections and installations that let visitors get to know more about fairy tale relics and themes.

In particular, a virtual library had to be designed. It is a touchless projection that has a system of sensors that detect the movement of the user, who can virtually browse the books projected all over the wall, within an immersive system.

Finally, to provide customized itineraries in a fairy tale environment, we developed a touchscreen table full of multimedia content that teaches visitors more about the various topics.

The museum also features a picture gallery of original drawings by illustrators, while the bookshop on the ground floor has a café as well as a series of fairy tale related texts and themed gift items.


Fairy tales, technology and wonder

The development of the Digital Environments allowed us to work on digital devices how they would be harmoniously placed amongst the furnishings of the rooms.

For the "Dei Fanciulli nella Foresta" room we created an immersive room, where children can interact with the video that animates the walls of the Rocca. We installed interactive stations in the shape of tree trunks from which you can interact with the main video projected on the entire surface. For these workstations we created a child's hand with an electro conductive paint. A touch activates the multimedia contents of the projection. The videos of the "Dei Fanciulli nella Foresta" room were made in 3D: trees, animals and natural effects are shown in a truly photo-realistic way. Every interaction by the visitors via the sensors will project parts of fairy tales which were also completely developed in 3D.

In the same space we also created the "Talking Tree", a station that integrates a large 85" display in which a real talking tree has been reproduced through three-dimensional representation techniques.

A Multi-Touch table and lectern complete the installation of the first section of the museum, allowing visitors to explore, browse and read the contents. The lectern is located at the entrance to the Museum to welcome visitors and allow them to view the entire museum itinerary.

The software and multimedia sector dedicated itself to creating multimedia experiences that matched up with the artistic feel of the project, putting together sounds, music, animations, graphics, and films and coordinating them according to what the user experience should be.

The testing stage allowed us to guarantee the safety parameters that are required by a highly frequented exhibition area.


A far-reaching project

The Rocca delle Fiabe was inaugurated on September 20, 2014. At that time, only one of the four exhibition "rooms" had been completed. The design and production effort behind each space took four years to be completed, and the last section, "Dei Fanciulli nella Foresta” was finished on June 30, 2018.

The completion of the Rocca delle Fiabe finally fills a void, because, as Professor Faeti stated, "inexplicably, Italy still does not possess a place, a space, an area in which the fairy tale reigns supreme, an area that is only its own, a place that is able to constantly remind us of the indispensable importance that must be attributed to it". Now this place finally exists.

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