OBJECTIVE

The American Museum & Gardens commissioned Washington-based landscape architects Oehme, Van Sweden to landscape part of the grounds. It was the company’s first commission in Europe and the design, for a New American Garden, marked an important first step in the museum’s ambitious transformation plan.

The wayfinding needed to reflect the museum’s new brand identity, which we had developed, and ensure a positive visitor experience around the extensive site.

CHALLENGE

As visitor experience and satisfaction ratings are often directly affected by the ability to navigate successfully around a site, it was important to ensure that visitors could easily find the various features and didn’t get lost in the grounds.

The planting in the New American Garden follows the free-form style made famous by the firm’s founders and the garden is designed to enhance the view over the Limpley Stoke Valley, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

It was important to develop clear signage that worked within the environment and didn’t detract from, or block the view across the valley.

SOLUTIONS

We approached the wayfinding from the visitor’s perspective, determined to make it as easy as possible for everyone to navigate the extensive site, but keen to keep the signage discreet and unobtrusive, so not to detract from the planting and the view.

The design was premium, stylish and minimal. The museum collection is housed in a Georgian manor, so signs fitted to walls and gateposts were deliberately sensitive to the surroundings and fitted with no visible fixtures. A west African hardwood Iroko that complemented the natural feel of the site was chosen for the signposts.

The gardens were designed to be largely accessible for wheelchair users. Careful consideration was given to the height of the signs and interpretation panels as well as the scale and contrast of the typography.

To supplement the physical wayfinding, we commissioned local graphic artist Fi Powers to create an isometric illustrated map of the gardens, and designed weatherproof handheld planting plans to help visitors identify Native American shrubs and perennials.

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