DOMunder - archaeological visitor experience under the Domplein square

Archaeological experience under the Domplein square

At the Domplein (Cathedral square) in the historical heart of the medieval city of Utrecht something extraordinary came into existence in June 2014: DOMunder. Tinker imagineers has designed, conceived and produced the underground archaeological visitor experience, in cooperation with Domplein Foundation and JDdV Architecten.  

DOMunder is a new archaeological experience centre in the historical heart of Utrecht. It is situated around the re-excavated archaeological remains of 2000 years’ worth of history and combines a well-preserved heritage with an evocative experience on the same spot, and in a way that is unprecedented in Europe. The multiformity of innovative and interactive techniques and authentic remains and finds is unique in Europe. The purpose of this private initiative of the Domplein Foundation is to provide access and perceptibility to the concealed history of the Domplein for the public at large.

Nowhere else in the Netherlands can twenty centuries of history be experienced at a single venue. By descending into the darkness with a specially developed interactive flashlight (based on infrared and 3D technology), visitors assume the role of the archaeologist, a time-traveller. In this way they uncover in their search the unbelievable layered history of the square. When the visitor catches archaeological findings or remains with his flashlight, a sensor triggers an explanation by the urban archaeologist who, through an earphone, explains what the visitor has found.

Aside from this archaeological expedition, which mainly arouses curiosity, there’s also the multimedia descent in time. Aided by the detailed 3D reconstructions of the Domplein, visitors are progressively taken further back in time. They virtually find themselves, amongst other things, in the Gothic Cathedral and look around in the Roman Castellum.
A second audiovisual highlight is ‘the terrible tempest’ that overwhelms visitors during their stay under the ground. It’s as if the storm that destroyed the nave in 1674 rages once again over the square. By making use of the state-of-the-art computer animations, lighting and sound effects, the visitor relives this historical storm. All of this takes pla.ce right in the middle of the archaeological discoveries, amongst the ground profiles and foundations.

After it’s opening on the second of June 2014 all tours of DOMunder were sold out, with online ticket reservations showing twice the number of expected results. The combination of high-tech solutions for climatisation, conservation and experience techniques with low-tech archaeology makes DOMunder an innovative and inspiring project within the European context.

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