New retail and visitor centre at World Heritage Site Conwy Castle by M Worldwide and Datum Contracts
Posted by: M Worldwide
Date added: Wed 25 Apr 2012
This week sees the launch of the new 150 square metre retail and visitor centre at Conwy Castle, which has been designed and installed by retail design and branding agency M Worldwide in conjunction with shopfitting contractor Datum Contracts International.
Last autumn both companies were appointed by Cadw (the Welsh Government’s Historic Environment Service) and their brief was to develop a flexible new approach to retail and visitor centre site design for Cadw’s many and varied historic visitor attractions.
Cadw chose Conwy Castle as the trial site to test the new design concepts, classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
M Worldwide developed new and detailed design concepts and principles that will be applied to Cadw’s properties across Wales, with Datum responsible for fitting-out and implementing the new designs. The aim is to create shops and visitor centres that reflect the uniqueness of each of the historic properties, contribute to the visitor experience, increase sales and encourage return visits. The new concepts encompass communications, interpretation panels, visitor environment elements, lighting, and a palette of colours and materials that reflect and portray Cadw’s ethos, as well incorporating the rich and diverse history of Wales.
Jayne Rowlands, Head of Visitor & Business Services at Cadw, said: “We manage and maintain a hugely diverse range of building types, none of which were originally designed with retail spaces. M Worlwide and Datum Contracts have created an incredibly flexible and cost-effective approach that can be adapted to different spaces, different periods and different styles of architecture.”
The style and design palette take inspiration from a number of aspects and features of Welsh historic buildings. These include references to traditional construction processes, generous proportions, use of honest and natural materials, fixtures created to make products easily accessible to the public, along with contemporary materials with more highly finished aspects to contrast with the natural raw materials. All of the manufacturing was done in-house by highly skilled staff at Datum Contracts’ joinery and metalwork factory in Hoddesdon.
David Martin, co-managing partner at M Worldwide, said: “The last thing we wanted was to create a ‘cookie cutter’ approach in developing design principles for Cadw’s properties. It’s about getting some consistency in functionality and in the way things are presented, but having enough flexibility to be sympathetic to each individual site. Visitors want to see some of that historical place reflected through the first or last part of their journey, so relevancy of the product and of the environment in which it is presented is really important.”
David Round, business development director at Datum Contracts, commented on the scheme: “We have worked closely with Cadw to develop M Worldwide’s design concept, providing all working drawings to achieve a fit-for-purpose solution that provided best value for Cadw. Special attention was paid to developing a new and innovative low energy LED shelf lighting system that is totally flexible, interchangeable, and functions without any connections to plug or unplug, allowing staff to quickly and easily move the shelves without worrying about cables or electrical connections.”
Design concepts and principles applied at the Conwy Castle retail and visitor centre include:
- Navigation through the space is easy and intuitive due to careful space and customer flow planning.
- Services and products are clearly zoned into areas that include tickets, cash and wrap, kids, seasonal displays and last minute items such as refreshments and waterproofs.
- Creation and build of a bespoke family of imposing freestanding furniture items to reflect the fact that the castle was once a home, provide a backdrop to showcase new Welsh product ranges, and to get around the challenge of fixing items to walls due to the listed nature of the site.
- A number of perimeter feature bays based on the Welsh dresser theme.
- Stronger link and visibility between Cadw and Conwy Castle through signage and branding.
- All of the fixtures are finished in a mixture of solid and veneered oak with a limed finish which contrasts with high quality off-white paint finish and steel.
- Perimeter display units are designed to be flexible, providing both flat and sloping shelving as well as slatwall panels.
In addition to the new design, Cadw is reviewing products to be sold in the shop such as jewellery, food and drink, with a strong emphasis on Welsh provenance.
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