Approach

What does Aquamarine do?

Aquarium

Why should I choose Aquamarine to do my Aquarium Design?
Aquamarine has 30 years of experience to call on, integrating good design from the perspective of functionality, attractiveness to visitors, low cost operation, minimal maintenance and low capital cost, with efficient and cost effective solutions to the design, spatial planning, LSS, Front of House and Back of House displays. We have seen what really works over the years and have witnessed many aquarium 'disasters' caused by inexperienced designers and contractors.

Aquamarine has been working with the Pioneers Of World Class For Profit Walk Through Aquariums, Marinescape. Over the years the model of the commercial aquarium has changed. Many specialist companies have different model, however at Aquamarine we strive to understand industry and client trends to deliver the best result that creates profit and aesthetics for the customers.

What is the evolution of Aquariums as Family Entertainment?
Family Entertainment is the single most important driver of the aquarium industries success. Aquariums are self contained, safe, easily accessible and interesting for elderly guests and fun and exciting for youth.
Aquariums are now competing with Home based Digital distractions, movies, phones, Internet based gaming, Zoos, Museums and a multitude of Family Entertainment.
Aquamarine offers other attractions in an effort to give the visitor a better-rounded visitor attraction. The evolution of the Aquarium is moving into a Discovery Center, with not just Fish Species but Reptiles, insects, biological exhibits, geographical exhibits and a multitude of additional attractions, which can change based on the season or parallel marketing with another feature; such as a Movie release.

What kind of Fish can go into an Aquarium and where do they come from?
From 100kg sharks to the tiniest mollusks! Aquamarine aquariums are home to over 500 species of fish and other sea creatures, with great care being taken in their selection. Experience has shown that endangered species are usually better left in the wild but occasionally; Aquamarine will work with scientists on breeding programs.

Mammals, such as dolphins and orcas, are rare in Aquamarine aquariums. Their high intelligence, and the huge territories they cover, means no aquarium space can adequately house them. Occasionally though, aquatic mammals will be requested and in this instance, they will sourced from one of the many aquariums around the world with inadequate facilities. Mammals for any Aquarium will never be taken from the wild.

Where is the best location for a Commercial Aquarium?
The location needs to be easily accessible for the visiting public with ample parking for private cars and/or readily accessible by public transport.
The site size is a function of indicated patronage, but in some circumstances a small site in an extremely popular area is possible.
As in all retail and entertainment facilities, ease of access is vital, preferably in an established tourist area, although these projects can be used as an anchor to create new visitor centers. An ideal situation is as an extra attraction in an existing tourist facility where the entire infrastructure exists.

Why does Aquamarine designs feature a Large Main Tank?
Large Tanks offer the visitor an experience that is the closest to the Ocean as possible. If an aquarium has many small tanks this offers the viewer information on individual species, but sometimes misses the concept of the habitat.

Also a large main tank is more cost effective to operate that many Small Tanks, and the visitor still gets a very good experience with multiple views into the single body of water.

If an Aquarium is designed with all Small tanks 100 Litres to 5000 Litres the development will be very expensive to construct, as this method the old aquarium methodology of spatial planning.

Aquariums versus other attractions

Environmental Education is a cornerstone of many aquariums mission. With the increasing concern for protecting the environment this aspect of an aquariums operation is growing and is now an expected aspect of every visit. Aquariums work to develop a bond between people and the underwater world by educating them in the wonders of the underwater world and describing how the sky, the earth and the seas are connected.

Adventure diving classes are frequently offered at aquariums. Offering these courses increases the aquariums revenues at little additional cost while offering a chance to dive with the sharks in a controlled environment often unique in the cities where aquariums operate.

Unique Dining Experiences add to the general public’s enjoyment and support for aquariums. As the aquariums doors are closing to the general public they are opening for dinner, conferences, parties, weddings and special events. Once in a lifetime experiences such as dining in the underwater tunnel or holding a reception near the 360-degree tank will have people talking about the aquarium and further increase the communities support.

Employment Creation is achieved through temporary jobs during the construction phase, direct employment in operating the aquarium and spin off employment in companies supplying the aquarium and in serving the aquariums guests at restaurants and hotels. The typical aquarium will employ 40-50 people directly and will create well over 100 jobs in related industries.

Tourism Spending dramatically increases in cities where an aquarium has been added. Between 30-50% of aquariums visitors are typically from out of town. The number of visitors to the city increases, many visitors extend their vacation to visit the aquarium and spend more on food, souvenirs, other attractions and hotel rooms.

Increased land values are frequently witnessed in the area surrounding a new aquarium development. Major developers and some cities have taken notice of this and are now using aquariums as the first stage of major urban redevelopment efforts.
The development of a new aquarium has many benefits for the general population, the business community and the local government. These benefits have been proven true time and again across geographic boundaries, religions, cultures and over time. It is due to these many benefits that aquariums frequently have near universal community support and is one of the main reasons that the industry has seen tremendous growth over the last 100 years.

What kind of payback period is there on an Aquamarine Aquarium?
This is based on many factors such as capital costs, attendance and many other factors. Typically a complete investment payback is anywhere between 3 to 6 years of good professional operations and Management.
Based on our experience, it is not difficult to design a facility to have a good financial return. It is noted that a complete Feasibility study and concept design be undertaken and evaluated.
Many studies have been done worldwide on the economic impact of aquariums with some communities reporting impacts upwards of USD 50-100 million annually.

What are the most popular design factors or facilities are a must in an Aquarium?
These exhibits below are the listed Top Exhibits (must-have’s) that any aquarium should have. The many people that have worked with Aquamarine over the years have generated this list from comments:

Sea horses, Jellyfish, Sharks, Penguins, Mekong Freshwater displays, Piranha, Living coral, Shoaling cylinder, Giant Octopus, Large Touch Pool, Large Main Tank with Walk-through Tunnel and Moving Walkway, Large Main Window, Large tube tank, Clown fish exhibit, Arawana and Arapaima, Crocodile (Reptiles), Crayfish exhibit, Goliath Tooth Fish (Fresh Water), Shark Tank feeding show, Glass bottom Boats, Turtles, Water Rats, Kids Zone, Sea Otters and Education Room with Children's activities.

Remember: Parents are happy if kids are happy (children are one major reasons for repeat visitation).

Kids almost unanimously like-tunnels, rides, narrow pathways, mazes, getting wet, getting scared, touching things, getting under, over and afloat on top, as well as the usual sharks, rays, big fish etc. They seem to need the 'whole body' experience and really need that diversity of interaction in an aquarium. Real simple displays like open top pools where kids are able to put on a dive mask and put their faces in the water would be a winner- although with obvious difficulties and high labour cost.
Similarly, small 'half' tunnels on the front of rock pool type tanks that children can crawl, lie or squat under, with fish overhead-basically a children’s mini-tunnel with enough space on the open side for parents to drag them out by the legs if they need to.
Also-same concept but with cascading water flowing over top. Basically kids love waterfall tunnels and wave surge tunnels. Children love water-hitting glass right up against their face.
Adults without children are a lot different. Exhibit quality is high on the agenda. Most seem happy with impressive, quality fish in an impressive display. One sick or damaged fish destroys it. The ability to sit down and take in at a leisurely pace with an impressive display like a big coral tank is something mentioned in visitor surveys (Trip advisor). Also lots of information wanted and some of the stories behind the fish and exhibits, this is done with App’s and Touch-screen internet displays linking to a central website. Mix the fun with the quality exhibits.

Does Aquamarine have any experience with Aquarium’s being integrated with Retail Malls?
Most of the Aquarium projects are now being integrated with Shopping Malls in difficult spaces. We have also been working with EMAAR Malls in Dubai and Star Malls in China in 2008 for a project in Shenyang. Due to planning circumstances the clients chose Movie Theater. Most of all of our current designs and projects in planning are within shopping Malls. Two of our projects under construction in Russia and Istanbul are key anchors in the Mall Complex. The project in Russia, we were the overall Mall and project Designer.

Green Standards

Does Aquamarine have and Environmental Sustainability standard?
Aquamarine holds itself to the highest standards in fish management, waste treatment, energy efficiency, water conservation and architectural design. Where-ever possible, natural elements are used and natural biological systems are mimicked, as Aquamarine engineers constantly search out newer and greener technologies. Aquamarine is also a member of the US Green Building Council.

Services cost

What are Aquamarine’s Turnkey Design Fees likely to be; and what amount of fee can be exempt should Aquamarine be aquarium contractor:

  • Lump Sum Turnkey Design (Percentage of Overall Project Cost);
  • Concept Design, Detailed Design – 4%
  • Detailed Engineering Construction Drawings – 7%
  • Design Supervision – 2%

If Aquamarine is the successful Design tenderer and or Turnkey contract it is usual that we absorb all of the Design Fees in the Design into the Construction Contract, only after signing the contract for the Construction.

How does Aquamarine include Travel expenses?
As we are an international company we work in many countries, first visits are reimbursed in Concept and feasibility contract for Aquamarine. Note that as we work in the Asian Region (Malaysia and Thailand), some trip expenses can be reduced; this depends on Timing of meetings and availability for senior staff members.

Local Companies

What part of Aquamarine’s work employ’s Local Companies?
Once the initial contract for services is agreed and signed with Aquamarine, we search in the local communities for Local service providers. This can be anything from Translators, Accountants, Assistants, Engineering Companies and Local Contractors. Our aim is to enable the local population to take an ‘ownership’ into the facility and Aquamarine is merely the facilitators, specialist designers, contractors and Managers. We will assist in the formation of a SPV to operate the facility and train the staff. We also will do monthly or annual audits into the performance of the facility.

We estimate that 70% of the Initial Design work is done by Aquamarine and 30% is Local Engineering and Design companies, so that the drawings can have local authorities approval.

Design Brief

Please advise how the final design brief is made available in your past projects?
In the last 5 projects each client has given Aquamarine an allotted size of the aquarium in the building or plot of land. Due to the 30 years of experience Aquamarine has determined the brief for each of the 30 projects constructed and 80-90 projects in planning over the years.

Interior Design

What references do you have for Interior Design?
The Last Current (5 years) Aquarium that was constructed has won a Tripadvisor Award and in 2013 the Greater Cleveland Aquarium received an award for best adaptive use from the Cleveland Restoration Society. Please see in the Project History for the EMAAR Discovery Center in Istanbul, Turkey; due for completion in 2016.

Associations

What associations is Aquamarine part of?
We are members of the following organizations: American Institute of Architects (38084582), U.S. Green Building Council (Member ID #3739947415204726), International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), New Zealand Designers Institute, Aquarium and Zoo Association, American Society of Landscape Architects (1166112).

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