No matter how old you are, miniature worlds are always a whole lot of fun.
Miniature worlds offer a wide range of possibilities, giving visitors the chance to discover both familiar and exotic or historical tourist attractions from an entirely new perspective. However, Smilestones, located just a few minutes’ stroll away from the Rhine Falls waterfall, has a unique focus. The name – a mash-up of “Swiss” and “milestones” – pretty much says it all. Everything here centres on delicately showcasing typical Swiss landmarks and landscapes – but not necessarily doing so realistically. “It’s about making visitors smile and letting them forget about the outside world for a moment,” says Patrik Stutz, head of equipment engineering at Smilestones. Visitors can feast their eyes on an abundance of mountains, green pastures and idyllic towns. There’s a humorous side to the attraction, too, with features such as a UFO and even an underwater restaurant waiting to be discovered. For the basis of these intricately designed Swiss landscapes, the creators have placed their trust in the aluminium profiles from the item MB Building Kit System.
Spectacular mini Swiss landscapes in vivid detail
Even a seemingly “tiny” project takes time. Work on the Swiss miniature world, for example, didn’t begin until seven years after the initial idea was formed. It was definitely worth the wait, though. The first themed area of Smilestones, which opened on 24 November 2018, spans around 135 square meters, showcasing the highlights of Eastern Switzerland – including the Säntis cableway, the historic centre of the medieval town of Schaffhausen and the Rhine falls. In this section alone, visitors can see 15,000 figurines, 400 cars and 80 trains in action. The second themed area, meanwhile, focuses on Switzerland’s world-renowned mountains. In this part, which covers some 120 square metres and measures 20 metres in length, visitors can marvel at six replica summits including the Eiger, the Jungfrau and the Matterhorn.
Profile technology from item is used to build the substructures of the various miniature landscapes. The exceptionally stable base it provides can be compared to a kind of skeleton covered in layers. First come boards made from light-wood or spruce, followed by Styropor and Styrodur, and finally plaster to seal it all together. Having never created a miniature world as big as this before, the team behind the project had to think everything through from the ground up. Initially, they had considered using wood for the substructure, but an adviser added the MB Building Kit System to the mix after achieving great results with the solution. “Nothing works better for us in terms of versatility and material. We can cut the profiles to the desired length ourselves. They can be installed horizontally and vertically and accommodate heavy loads,” says Stutz.
The substructure provides stability and compensates for unevenness of up to 30 mm in the floor.
Stability for the miniature world – in more ways than one
When it came to building the mountain landscapes, the creators made even greater use of our aluminum profiles. In the first themed area, the boards covering the substructure still had a modular design and were made from light-wood – a less stable material. If required, these boards could have been taken apart. But seeing as this wasn’t necessary, the team simply installed sturdier spruce boards and more aluminum profiles for the site’s second section. As a result, up to three members of staff can stand on a square-meter area. According to Stutz, however, the material properties weren’t the only thing that convinced the team to continue working with item: “The personal relationship is another key factor. The field staff are incredibly pleasant to deal with.” That’s why the next miniature Swiss landscapes will be based on item profiles, too.
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