National Trust Calke Abbey, Derbyshire
Innovative Orientation Signage Scheme gaining plaudits from across the Trust
Calke Abbey is a local, much beloved, National Trust property. When we received the Invitation to Tender through our membership of the AHI we just knew this was one commission we had to win.
(Partner – The Maltings Heritage Interpretation)
The brief was to create an orientation signage scheme for Calke Abbey, culminating in an install of pedestrian and vehicular signage and a Stylebook which set down the rules that would be applied to placement, design and construction. The existing signage had grown in a rather haphazard way over time as is typical for many large visitor attractions – new signs being added when a requirement was identified with little consideration for either cohesion or ease of use. Understandably our task was met with mixed feelings amongst the client team. National Trust favour staff and volunteer consultation over major projects such as this so opinions were broad, ranging from absolute conviction that a new scheme was essential, to a strong determination that signs formed a barrier between the public and the site and so should be removed altogether. Polarised opinions are typical amongst groups of stakeholders, and part of our role is to quickly establish trust and confidence in our ability to deliver something that is a significant improvement on the current situation. Orientation signs are a necessity, but a sympathetic, considered, well designed scheme should not jar with or dominate the site. Views must be listened to and reassurance given that where we end up will be a huge improvement on where we are at the outset. We made it clear that there would be less signs not more following our intervention, and that we wholeheartedly believed that no beautiful view was ever enhanced with the introduction of a sign – so our approach would be quiet and unobtrusive.