The Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College
HLF round 2 application, [approved]
Delivered November 2015
Overall budget £8M Exhibition budget £.34M

In March 2015 we won a competitive tender for the interpretive design work associated with the  Painted Hall project. The site is part of the Greenwich World Heritage Site and the buildings are Grade I listed. The scope of work includes: Re-working the design structure for the existing Visitor Centre, develop wayfinding methodologies between the Visitor Centre and the Painted Hall, interpretive designs within the undercroft to act as introductory area for the Painted Hall, and interpretation within the Painted Hall.

The interpretation and exhibition design strikes a balance between the physical and digital experience. The centrepiece of the project is the painted interior of the early 18th Century baroque Painted Hall – said to be the finest painted interior in the UK.

Our designs include day-beds with built-in audio interpretation for visitors to engage with the painted ceiling whilst lying in comfort enabling them to  appreciate both the enormity of the spectacle and learn about the hidden symbolism of the detail.

Elsewhere within the Painted Hall visitors will be able to interact with ‘prop chests’ — specially manufactured pieces of furniture that contain reproduction artefacts and handling objects, linked to characters portrayed in the paintings; for example: 18th Century astronomer John Flamsteed’s telescope; Queen Mary II’s sceptre; and a Greenwich pensioner’s naval tricorn hat.

The immersive experience of the Painted Hall is first set up in the exhibition gallery in the King William undercroft below. A multilayered design utilising ambient audio, digital touch-screen, graphic and object displays sets the scene and introduces visitors to the buildings and the context of the painted interiors. The undercroft spaces also include a cafe and a shop, with interpretive information subtly incorporated into table tops and facias.

The site is part of the Greenwich World Heritage Site and the buildings are Grade I listed. The interpretation and exhibition design seeks to strike a balance between the physical and digital experience. The centrepiece of the project is the painted interior of the early 18th Century baroque Painted Hall – said to be the finest painted interior in the UK. Our proposals include day-beds with built-in audio interpretation for visitors to actively engage with the painted ceiling whilst lying in comfort and appreciating both the enormity of the spectacle and learning about the hidden symbolism of the detail.

Elsewhere within the Painted Hall visitors will be able to interact with ‘prop chests’ — specially manufactured pieces of furniture that contain reproduction artefacts and handling objects, linked to characters portrayed in the paintings; for example: 18th Century astronomer John Flamsteed’s telescope; Queen Mary II’s sceptre; and a Greenwich pensioner’s naval tricorn hat.

The immersive experience of the Painted Hall is first set up in the exhibition gallery in the King William undercroft below. A multilayered design utilising ambient audio, digital touch-screen, graphic and object displays sets the scene and introduces visitors to the buildings and the context of the painted interiors. The undercroft spaces also include a cafe and a shop, with interpretive information subtly incorporated into table tops and facias.

The project has a multi-tiered approach to community engagement:  Integrated into the permanent displays are objects produced by workshops with local colleges and schools, such as the Building Crafts Council. The workshops are linked to conservation studies programmes providing training for young people. Initial ideas and design proposals were also fully tested with the public as part of ongoing visitor and local community consultation. In the summer of 2015 we designed a temporary exhibition to inform visitors of the project’s aims and objectives and to canvas opinion about the proposals. We created a series of visuals tools including card games and posters to help facilitate this. A significant number of visitors to the site are tourists whose first language is not English. We are thus ensuring our designs communicate to different audiences in a variety of ways, using imagery, iconography, dates and interaction.

The full project team comprises lead architect Hugh Broughton Architects and conservation architect Martin Ashley, activity plan consultants Jane Frederick and Chloe Osborne, client- side learning and development consultants and is supported on the ground by over 100 ORNC volunteers. Following an overwhelmingly positive response from the HLF to the Round 2 submission, the project is now embarking on the delivery phase and is expected to complete in 2018.


old royal navel college

old royal navel college

old royal navel college diagram

old royal navel college diagram

old royal navel college diagram