Sea Life Aquarium (Charlotte-Concord)


The physical space I visited was the Sea Life Aquarium in Charlotte-Concord. It is within a shopping center, but it is still quite spacious. The aquarium made up of multiple smaller rooms that lead into each other, each containing a different type of sea creature or habitat.

Choices the designers made to communicate the subject matter include the ways they decided to present information to the public (whether it was fish facts or informing them on what they’d find in each section) and the ways they sought to engage their audience.

Informational choices:

The digital information screen describes the physical features and habits of the Spiny Lobster

Digital Information Kiosks – Nearby each of the tanks or displays, there was a small touch screen that had a small picture of a creature on it and a name underneath. When you clicked on the picture, it opened up a page which gave greater detail on the animal, like a brief description, their habitat, their diet, and so on. I found this very helpful, as it is an efficient, interactive way of presenting information on

The sign that welcomed me to “Stingray Bay”

the animals while also making it easily accessible. In addition, it helped that it was backlit, so the words could be read even in the dimly lit environment.

“Section” Signs -The aquarium was set up so smaller rooms, each emulating specific environments and containing its respective aquatic creatures, transitioned into each other. While the change in scenery was an indictor that you were moving from one section to another, there were also tall signs that stood at the “entrance”. These signs indicted the main sea creature you were going to find there with facts about the species and what we can do to help preserve the wildlife.

Audience Engaging Choices:

A wall graphic that engages people and put information into perspective for visitors

Interactive and Engaging signs – Since a big audience of aquariums are children, many of the signs around the displays were interactive. There were hands on ways to teach children about the different creatures, their habitats, and what humans do that can help or hurt them. In the picture on the left, graphics on the wall ask kids to see how they measure up to some of the largest turtles in the world. Other interactive examples include: a sign with a wheel that spins to reveal how pollution from travel affects the ocean and a lens kids could look through to see the world through different sea creatures’ eyes. Signs also prompted children to search for certain sea creatures or find certain things within the aquarium.


Lighting, Materials, and Colors:

The overall choices of the lighting, materials, colors, and displays were meant to mimic habitats where you would find aquatic life, such as grottos, forests, ponds, or the ocean, while also using graphics and signs to interest and educate visitors on the fish and other animals there.

An example of some of the lighting found at the aquarium

Lighting – The lighting throughout the aquarium was dim, apart from the tanks of water which seems to give off a glowing, blue light. I think that this was to help draw attention to the animals in the tanks and make that the focus of the display. Some lights projected colored patterns of leaves, stones paths, or other organic shapes on the floor. The lighting wasn’t bright or overwhelming, which can establish a relaxing and serene environment that many people associate with visiting bodies of water. The dim lights also help create a suspension of disbelief for the visitors so they forget they are in an aquarium, but rather feel like they are exploring and discovering these things in nature.

Materials – The aquarium was designed to be an immersive experience. Many aquariums just have rooms with just simple fish tanks and descriptions next to them. But the designers of this aquarium implemented different types of plants in each of the sections, and textured and decorated the walls to feel like stone walls of a cave or the inside of a wooden ship to create a realistic experience.

Color choices – The intention of the aquarium was to evoke feelings of being in the natural world –  so lots of blues, greens, browns, and other earthy tones were used. In addition, the aquarium itself was designed to be very child friendly. So, signs and wall graphics with information were designed in bright, exciting colors that would catch the attention of children.


What would I change? 

While the rooms flowed into each other pretty well and I didn’t get lost, I found myself accidentally walking in circles around a room trying to find the entrance to the next display. Perhaps it would be beneficial to create some type of path on the ground as a way to help direct the visitors, without shattering the illusion of the natural world by adding big, obnoxious directional signs.