A miniature universe at 1:87 scale – There’s only safe fire protection at the original scale


When the twin brothers Gerrit and Frederik Braun opened the Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg’s warehouse district in 2001, they fulfilled a lifelong dream. They could never have guessed that the spontaneous idea would become the largest model railway in the world and Hamburg’s no. 1 tourist attraction.

Every year the Miniatur Wunderland attracts 1.3 million visitors from all over the world and not only railway fanatics. It’s up to 15 million people from all over the world so far. More than 750,000 hours of work have been put into the system to date, which portrays a unique miniature world. In addition to its sophisticated technology, its wealth of detail is what really wins people over. 260,000 lovingly staged figures and 280 computer-controlled cars, as well as the ships and airplanes taking off every minute captivate visitors. It’s no wonder that the system was recently declared to be the most popular sight in Germany by 40,000 foreign tourists in a survey from the German National Tourist Board. It’s a breathtaking miniature universe found nowhere else in the world. A complex system of technology makes the exhibition truly unique. For example, 385,000 dynamically-switched LEDs–paired with a specially developed lighting control–create a nearly perfect simulation of day and night. There’s never a dull moment and always plenty of interaction thanks to the more than 150 pushbutton actions. Meanwhile, the system has grown to nine sections across approximately 1,490 square meters. 300 employees attend to guests, café, gift shop, and the technology. Only 70 of them are exclusively involved with planning, construction, and maintenance of the model making systems. At the end of September and after 180,000 work hours and four years of construction, the ninth section was solemnly opened in the presence of Hamburg’s Mayor Olaf Scholz. The construction of the 190 square meter portion cost more than 4,000,000 euros. By 2020, followed by Venice, France, and possibly England, more sections are expected, which will cause the entire area with currently about 6,000 square meters can grow by another 3,000.

False alarms are suppressed

Special increased attention is always necessary when it comes to safety aspects in cluttered buildings where large numbers of people gather. At peak times, up to approximately 1,000 people are in the historically-protected landmark building.
During a family outing to the Miniatur Wunderland two years ago, a visitor struck up a conversation with Salvatore Russo, who is employed as a state certified master event equipment/lighting technician (electrical engineering) in the special projects division in the Miniatur Wunderland GmbH and who took on the important role of fire safety officer. His previous years of experience in the volunteer fire department come to him in good stead. As the visitor (Manuel Pelazas) happens to work as International Sales Support Manuel at the Neusser manufacturer for fire detection technology, Novar, and is well-versed when it comes to fire safety concerns, he was very interested in the technology used. During the conversation he learned that at the time of initial installation of the fire alarm system during the 2011/2012 construction phase, false alarms were also triggered due to fire simulations with a fog generator at the fictitious Knuffingen airport. As Manuel Pelazas told about the ESSER detector false-alarm technology against this backdrop, he was able to lay the foundations for the gradual replacement of the existing equipment. Meanwhile, the products from the traditional ESSER brand with their multifunctional detectors are being used and are providing the necessary safety. After the steady expansion of the detector periphery, the current fire alarm IQ8Control C is now meanwhile close to its capacity and as an additional 50 detectors are to be connected, expansion is planned with an additional center.
Even if a fiber optic line is called for, networking will initially be carried over copper lines. Remote control panels play an important role here due to its layout.

It is not yet ruled out that one day “Gerrit’s Diary,” the YouTube Blog of CEO Gerrit Braun, will also feature the sophisticated fire detection technology in its many facets, in addition to the climate and ventilation technology and many other interesting topics. ■
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A miniature universe at 1:87 scale – There’s only safe fire protection at the original scale
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