Experience sharks from every angle
„It’s like diving in the Maldives.“
- Hans Köppen
CEO, Haus des Meeres
The 360° shark aquarium at the “Haus des Meeres” in Vienna offers visitors an unforgettable view of more than 1,000 fish. The enormous tank made of PLEXIGLAS® blocks can be viewed from every angle.
The reef sharks slink through the water silently and gracefully. When looking through the almost invisible acrylic glass panel from below, you can see the typically wide, blunt snout. If the fascinating underwater creatures swim by at eye level, you can admire their characteristic silhouette and the distinctive tip of their dorsal fin. The nimble animals, which often only turn back suddenly just before they reach the aquarium panel, are the stars of one of the most spectacular show tanks at the "Haus des Meeres" aquatic zoo in Vienna: the 360° aquarium.
The marine aquarium is a replication of an Indo-Pacific coral reef. When walking around the 120-square-meter tank, visitors can admire a huge number of tropical fish. “It’s like diving in the Maldives,” enthuses Hans Köppen, CEO of Haus des Meeres. More than 1,000 fish live here, hidden in the countless caverns and hollows of the artificial reef. They are only separated from the amazed visitors by a 160-millimeter-thick panel of PLEXIGLAS® acrylic glass.
On the lookout for tropical fish
In terms of area, the 360° aquarium is the largest at the Haus des Meeres in Vienna. Viewers can admire various types of ray with their seemingly cheerful undersides, watch how surgeonfish maintain the ecological balance, and witness a remora entering into a partnership with the reef sharks that is both fascinating and rarely seen in marine aquariums.
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A 360° experience
Visitors can enjoy a perfect view of the marine world from all sides, without any steel beams or visible joints getting in the way. This fantastic 360° view is possible thanks to enormous individual pieces of PLEXIGLAS® acrylic glass.
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Crystal clear and undistorted view
PLEXIGLAS® acrylic glass for aquarium construction
PLEXIGLAS®, the branded acrylic from Röhm, has been used in aquarium construction for many years. For more information on the guarantee, the right material thickness for your application and further technical details, see our brochure: “PLEXIGLAS® for Aquarium Glazing.”
The water tank was made from PLEXIGLAS® block material measuring a total of 43 meters. The brand acrylic from Röhm withstands enormous water pressures and enables shapes such as cylinders or tunnels. Moreover, it is absolutely colorless and offers an undistorted view. As a result, the fascinating underwater creatures appear just as they really are: small or large, with dazzling colors – and without any size distortion, tint or cloudiness.
Thanks to its unique properties, PLEXIGLAS® acrylic glass also impresses in the amazing Atlantic Tunnel at the Haus des Meeres. With its 10-meter-long all-glass tube made of PLEXIGLAS® acrylic glass and with the surrounding tank’s capacity of half a million liters, this is Austria’s largest aquarium tunnel – built by k-tec GmbH in Radstadt near Salzburg. Managing Director Thilo Üblagger and his team of experts have a wealth of experience as well as the special technical equipment required to build large-scale aquariums.
Precision work for invisible joints
In terms of area, the 360° aquarium is the largest at the Haus des Meeres. In order to support the 500-metric ton tank on the eighth floor, a steel construction weighing 49 metric tons had to be installed two floors below. The 360° view was also a challenge: The visitors were to have a perfect view of the marine world from all sides, without any steel beams or visible joints getting in the way. This was possible thanks to enormous single blocks of PLEXIGLAS®: These were bonded in a complex process, resulting in invisible seams whose strength is identical to that of the acrylic glass itself.
„Precise milling is essential when later joining the individual elements.”
- Thilo Üblagger
Managing Director, k-tec
The nine individual pieces of the tank, the largest measuring more than 10 meters wide and almost three meters high, were manufactured at k-tec. “The raw panels are shaped in extensive thermal processes using purpose-built molds manufactured at k-tec; he resulting panels are free of indents and extremely precise. They are then contoured using a 3D milling process to an accuracy of hundredths of millimeters. Precise milling is essential when later joining the individual elements,“ describes Üblagger.
The nine individual pieces of the tank, the largest measuring more than 10 meters wide and almost three meters high, were manufactured at k-tec GmbH in Radstadt near Salzburg. The largest weighs 7,000 kilograms.
Heavy-duty equipment needed
Because of the sheer size and weight of the marine aquarium parts, special mechanical equipment was required.
One special feature was how the enormous individual pieces were brought into the eighth floor of the building at a height of 20 meters – through a partially open glass facade in the heart of Vienna’s busy city center.
The two longest elements had to be winched in during the construction phase. It would not have been possible to thread them through the finished building.
Shoals of fish in front of a unique backdrop
Even the act of getting the enormous individual parts into the building was spectacular: In the heart of Vienna’s bustling city center, a glass facade on the eighth floor had to be partially opened. Joining the pieces together on site was also a real challenge: “The two longest elements had to be brought in during the construction phase, and this had to be timed exactly to coincide with the completion of the seventh floor ceiling. Only then could work on building the other stories continue; it would not have been possible to bring them in had the other floors already been built,” explains Üblagger.
The complex installation work succeeded – and Vienna now has a new attraction. Visitors can now experience sharks, rays and colorful shoals of fish up close and personal, from every angle.
When sharks float over the city
Not only the 360° view amazes, however – the view through the aquarium is also spectacular: “If you look straight through the tank, the sharks appear to be swimming over the rooftops,” says an enthused Dr. Michael Mitic, Director of the Haus des Meeres. It truly is a special experience to watch the impressive ocean predators swim in front of a city backdrop.
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