The Archbishop’s Palace Southwell
Interpretive planning and design, wayfinding and visual identity.
Completed summer 2014
Overall budget £1.2m – Exhibition budget £120k

Southwell Minster was founded in Saxon times and rebuilt by the Normans. The Palace was built for the Archbishop of York and was first recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086. The Palace was damaged during the Civil War and partly dismantled, leaving the ruins seen today. We provided full interpretation design, including 3D and graphic, wayfinding, and audio visual design. Collaborating with the project architect we coordinated planning permissions, listed building and SMC consent. We were also commissioned to design the new visual identity and guidelines.

As part of the interpretive planning we developed a co-curated and co-designed set of window seat cushions. These were made by the Minster’s Needlework Guild, they carry interpretive messages contextualised by a 3D audioscape which delivers through directional speakers specific content to each window. We provided art directions creating links between fabric and stain glass, as well as establishing content connections with other interpretive elements.

The design draws upon the human and social history of the site, revealing the layers of its history to evoke a sense of place through a subtle integration of interpretation that does not detract from the building or the site itself. The result is an experience that makes use of the ‘in between’ spaces, including window seats, fireplaces, stone paths, and an audio soundscape.

Restoration of The Palace started in 2010, and included the stabilisation of the ruins, the creation of an Education Garden, and the restoration and renovation of the remains of the original Great Hall.

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