Cover of the Competition

Call for Entries: ‘Fantasia’ | International Cultural Architecture Hosted by UNI

Fig: 1 — Ferris wheel and Carousel — The staple of every carnival

Carnivals and fairs

Recreation is as important as work and sleep, if not more. It must be balanced with labor to ensure the well-being of the body and mind. Recreation is a diversion that helps us to refresh and strengthen our system. This time is used to relax or enjoy fun hobbies, outdoor activities, and so on.

The concept of theme parks evolved as a means of combining the three means of leisure that they had back then: traveling fairs, pleasure gardens, and exhibition fairs such as the famous Crystal Palace Exposition. These experiences were enhanced with industrialization, where rides such as carousels with horses galloping, and ferries wheels became a trademark of theme parks around the world.

These medieval funfairs drew enormous crowds with a variety of performers such as tightrope walkers, fire eaters, acrobatics, magicians, and the like, which created an aura of mysticism and curiosity around these events. They also became a way for cities and businesses to show off their economic and industrial success. These fairs gave way to the trend of now-known theme parks.

Fig: 2 — High-tech rides were invented

Theme park — the new funfair

As time passed by, people had started to dedicate a whole lot of space for leisure and entertainment, of various forms. Carnivals, cinema halls, and shopping malls are some generic forms of entertainment, while theme parks are more focused on providing entertaining rides and games, based on an intricate theme.

Today, theme parks show an intense level of competitiveness in their creativity and conception. While funfairs were temporary and mobile, theme parks are stationary and built to last for long-term operation. They showcase themed rides, Ferris wheels, and roller coasters, etc.

What makes a theme park distinct is its ability to tell stories through its attractions. The essence of a theme is poured down into the ambiance, landscaping, color palette, and other elements that make the experience unique to its visitors.

How can the ability of storytelling be enhanced through design efforts?

Fig: 3 — Disneyland — the most iconic theme park around the world

Brief of the competition

Brief: The challenge of the competition is to design a theme park with ‘the mystical land of Ancient Egypt’ as a theme. The park design must make all people feel welcome, and have a little something for everyone.

A theme park is built on concept art, and this industry is thriving today. Understanding color theory and human psychology is key to generating anticipation and curiosity, in coherence with the theme. Although some aspects of the park require technical detailing, the focus is to be maintained on the theme manifestation in design.

They say, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a year’ and theme parks are a true testimony to that. It takes decades sometimes, to build the best of them and the process requires a lot of creative minds from different fields to come together.

The design of this park should help the audience be at leisure, but also pump them up with adrenaline and excitement. Most theme parks are built to attract children, but it receives a huge number of adult visitors too. The design must focus on creating an environment that is suitable for people of all ages and places.

Competition Objectives

  • Concept — Attractions and rides must be designed according to the theme.
  • Ambiance — The lighting, color theme, material palette, and other elements are to be meticulously designed to create a cheerful and welcoming ambiance.
  • Safety — The safety and comfort of the visitors on all rides and areas designed, will be a priority.
  • Future — The design should have enough room for modification and incremental growth for the future. Participants should develop a stage-by-stage plan for implementing this theme park.


Fig: 4— Site image

Canberra is the capital city of Australia. It is a planned city, influenced by the garden city movement so it has huge stretches of vegetation. The city also hosts several cultural events that attract visitors from all over the world. The climate is extremely pleasant so many activities are hosted in outdoor environments.

The site is located in the Canberra region, around 2km from the airport. It can be easily accessed by the Majura Parkway. A cycle pathway is surrounding the site, through which people have a look over the park and its rides, attracting them in. The scale of the site is huge and it provides scope for future expansion.

Program Outline

The site must accommodate basic fun rides i.e., Ferris wheel, carousel, rollercoaster, a wave pool. Apart from these other rides and amenities are left to the designer to curate within the provided constraints. While it’s imperative to use standardized type rides to make this experience, the participants can invent their own rides too.

The program must also keep in mind non-ride buildings such as cafeterias, restrooms, souvenir shops, etc.

  • Spaces to play/ride (Eg. Indoor/Outdoor/Arcade, etc.) — 35%
  • Spaces to linger (Eg. Spas, Seating, Eateries, etc.) — 20%
  • Spaces to explore (Eg. Museum, Experience Centers, etc.) — 10%
  • Space for performers (Eg. Outdoor theatres, Indoor performance areas, etc.) — 10%
  • Kids only zones (Eg. Toy train station, etc.) — 10%
  • Service (Eg. Power, Water, HVAC, Storage, Maintenance, Utility areas, etc.) 10%
  • Administration (Eg. Offices, Meeting areas, Accounting, etc.) — 5%

The above programmatic outline is a starting point to conceive your design. Participants may alter, replace or recreate elements in this program based on their design outcomes.

Find all the competition brief, terms, and other registration guidelines on this page: Fantasia | Cultural Architecture Competition on UNI | About

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