Sarner | Lenin Icebreaker Concept Design - Experiences & Exhibitions by Sarner



The majority of Sarner’s projects are design, create and build but, for some clients, it’s just the concept design that is required.  This was the case in 2015 when, following design and installation projects on board both the HMS Belfast in London (2011) and the FRAM ship in Norway (2011 – 2013), Sarner was approached by the Arctic Centre – University of Lapland to redesign new concepts for the science exhibition on board the Lenin Icebreaker.

The Lenin Icebreaker, a decommissioned Soviet nuclear-powered icebreaker, is now permanently docked in Murmansk, Russia.  It originally entered operation in 1959 and cleared sea routes for cargo ships along Russia’s northern coast.  Sarner’s design for the immersive, hands on exhibition, within the actual ship, recreates its history with a sense of wonder and intrigue, encouraging visitors to journey deeper and discover more about the arctic regions today and in the future.

Being an EU funded project, the building of it was tendered out.  Ross Magri, Sarner’s MD, recently had the chance to visit the icebreaker and see how Sarner’s creative designs were transferred from paper to reality on board the ship. “This whole project was done virtually – utilising all that the internet and modern technology has to offer!  But it was great to finally see the icebreaker up close.  It really is a fascinating vessel – the smell, the aesthetics – and where else can you see a real nuclear reactor compartment? It was thrilling to see our concepts having come to life on board the Lenin, and witnessing the public’s fantastic reactions to the interactive elements within the design.”

The visitor enters the world’s first nuclear icebreaker, which in itself is a feast for all senses, and is entertained whilst being educated through touchscreen interfaces and modern technology.  In the exhibition the visitor learns about the history of the icebreaker: the construction process, the crew, the technology used and its missions.  And there is a large focus on the Arctic Ocean – the flora and fauna and the sea ice, the main element that the nuclear icebreakers were built to conquer.

The exhibition also gives an overview on why the icebreaking operations in the Arctic were started and why they are still important in today’s global world as well as portraying the icebreaking technology used in the Russian nuclear icebreaker fleet, with special attention given to the new icebreakers that are currently under construction.

This project has helped to strengthen the position of the Lenin Icebreaker as the main tourist attraction in the Kola region, and also to provide a venue for science communication related to the Arctic.

Ross adds, “We endeavour to maintain client relationships, whether they’re local to us or in far flung corners of the planet.  In this case, far north of the Arctic Circle!”