House of Wisdom
Reimagining a library

House of Wisdom library external view
Client House of Wisdom
Industry Hospitality & destinations
Services Digital transformationExperiential spacesService designUser experienceUser interface

Designing a unique, integrated destination experience

House of Wisdom is a leading cultural destination dedicated to learning, knowledge, and technology that marks the UNESCO World Book Capital year for The Emirate of Sharjah.
Shurooq, the Sharjah Investment, and Development Authority, engaged with Injazat, an industry-recognized market leader in the GCC region for digital transformation, cloud, and cybersecurity, as the end-to-end technology partner to transform their vision into reality. Injazat then turned to Alkemy and DGI to design, create and implement an engaging set of “phygital” experiences integrating physical spaces and objects with digital interfaces and solutions.
Together, we set out to reimagine the traditional library for the 21st century. How could we turn the cultural institution, traditionally seen as a repository of physical books, into a holistic and seamless “phygital” experience?

House of Wisdom reinterprets the classic library, expanding it to a place for meeting, learning and growing. To do so, it was essential to bring together the design of physical spaces and phygital touchpoints.

Sigurdur Thorsteinsson, Partner, Design Group Italia
House of Wisdom library

360° design for an integrated experience

In order to meet Shurooq and Injazat’s expectations we deployed a cross-disciplinary team able to create a smooth integrated overall experience for the visitors of House of Wisdom – thus pulling from and activating a myriad of capabilities:
• analysis and research
• customer experience design
• experiential space design
• digital experience design
• technical solution design, technical leadership during the execution phase
• communication and content production
• Program management support

House of Wisdom main hall with robots
House of Wisdom main entrance
House of Wisdom library view

Alkemy and Design Group Italia have designed the concept and the omnichannel customer experience across the entire platform.
The project was conceived and implemented before COVID-19, but it shows how destinations can continue to offer their services post coronavirus.

Duccio Vitali, CEO, Alkemy

In addition to several dozen internal project streams, creating the House of Wisdom experience involved coordination and collaboration with an extraordinary number of outside partners, suppliers, and stakeholders from all over the world, a large and geographically dispersed ecosystem, in order to achieve project goals on schedule and budget. This allowed the experience designers, spatial designers, and digital designers to collaborate closely with the technology team and the customer, delivering an efficient and flexible co-creation process.

The result is an entirely integrated experience where technology and digital empower the physical to create an engaging omnichannel destination experience.

House of Wisdom process
House of Wisdom library

How we designed a seamless, hybrid and omni-channel customer journey

To design an impactful experience that would resonate and serve visitors, we needed to understand them. We started with meticulous research, analysis, co-creation sessions, and workshops to find customer archetypes for House of Wisdom. These archetypes map out visitor characteristics, needs, and behaviors and served as the foundation for the omnichannel experience design work.

Building on the customer archetypes, our cross-disciplinary team designed a customer journey through the library’s different touchpoints and services to create a varied and enjoyable experience for guests. Rooted in the design strategy, we defined the pillars of the House of Wisdom customer Journey. For the spatial experience, we divided the library into experiential and functional zones: discover, focus, experiment, and play. We then identified the key moments of interaction and experiences for visitors in each area. The same vision, concept, and experience were then consistently applied across all touchpoints.

We worked on all the aspects of the project, so we were able to guarantee a consistent high-quality experience across all touchpoints.

Francesca Vittori, Experiential Spaces Director
House of Wisdom juorney map

Fab Lab

The Fab Lab is a workshop equipped with 3D printers, a large-scale touch wall and other tools that allow visitors to create things. The shelves used as spatial dividers also serve as a gallery to display the projects created at the Fab Lab.
We selected materials like unbreakable surfaces for the tables to ensure durability, and a flexible, modular design for the space to allow for many different kinds of activities.

House of Wisdom fablab

Kids’ Area

The kids area is designed for children of different ages. It includes a soft play and reading area for younger children, a Fab Lab that serves as a stimulating and inspirational space to foster artistic, building, and crafting skills while hosting classes. There’s an interactive kids table that includes educational games, a reading area, and gift shop, and a reading area on the mezzanine for older children.

House of Wisdom kid's area
House of Wisdom kid's area
House of Wisdom kid's area

A human-centered digital experience

The digital experience we created for House of Wisdom integrates seamlessly with the physical, bringing the library to life. Visitors can use their smartphones to interact with all touchpoints of the library. With the House of Wisdom app, visitors can access all the content, services, and experiences of the library. There are smart totems across the building for advanced book searches, bookings, order placements, and additional information through touchless, direct scans with QR codes. All the UX/UI of the touchpoints (website, mobile app, digital screens) are designed to meet the needs of the customer archetypes’, with the principles of human-centered design applied across the board. The design is mobile-first, with the same functionalities for all touchpoints to guarantee a uniform experience.

Scalable technology to power the experience

A typical destination hosts an array of technological systems – e.g.- CCTV, building management, and parking – all running separately. For the House of Wisdom, we could count on one flexible, scalable solution that governs the entire visitor experience. One digital platform connects all the various services: guests can book and pay for parking, borrow, and return books they can reserve a work pod, and control the lighting and aircon, all from the same app.

The intuitive, easy-to-use UI design hides an immense complexity of technology. We challenged our partners and vendors to build an extraordinarily seamless experience of complicated technologies. The modular, flexible approach allows for changes, updates, and upgrades, able to adapt to future needs.

 

“Nowadays, technology often ends up being a set of gadgets that shine at the beginning of the experience but bore you at the end. In House of Wisdom we tried not to put only technical gimmicks in the middle of the journey, but actionable, smart tools that augment the physical experience in the digital realm.”

Gabriele Cafaro, Digital Technical Director
House of Wisdom library digital touchpoint
Mobile app for Hose of Wisdom library
House of Wisdom library window sign
House of wisdom shop detail

Communication that completes the customer experience

We planned, designed, and produced the storytelling and touchpoint content to engage visitors in the dialogue and connect with them. The dialogue runs throughout the entire customer journey, starting before the visit, and continues in the library’s digital channels after the visit, be it the website or social media.

Our aim was to create awareness around House of Wisdom. We chose to open with a campaign that asks big questions about humanity, truth, and knowledge to underline the library’s role as an enabler of dialogue.

Niccolò Rigo, Senior Strategy Director, Alkemy
House of Wisdom

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