The National Trust
Fountains Abbey - Gatehouse Visitor Centre
Fountains Abbey was Yorkshireʼs first World Heritage Site and is the location of the largest abbey ruins in England.
Working in coordination with an architect, Blue was commissioned to create a memorable visitor centre and an engaging introduction to the site. With few objects to show, other than the actual Abbey ruins themselves, the challenge was to create an intriguing and engaging display for the new building constructed within the ruined walls of the Gatehouse.
Crucial to the design concept was the need to make sure that the interpretation didnʼt form a physical barrier between the visitor and the Abbey.
The solution was to integrate the interpretation into the fabric of the centre, by using the windows to carry the storyline and pictures which echo stained glass design. These images are translucent, so the walls of the gatehouse can be seen through them.
The new centre provides the only interpretation within the ruins.
We created a display which the guides use to introduce the Abbey story at the start of a tour. This display also meets the needs of casual visitors.
By using layers of pictures and text, visitors can choose how much information they want. If they only follow the picture sequence, they can still see the story unfold.
A 1950s model of the Abbey was due to be disposed of, but we were sure it had a valuable role to play in the new centre.
Always popular with the guides and visitors, the model has now been refurbished and is housed in the new centre. Guides and casual visitors find it an invaluable aid to understanding how the Abbey would have looked in all its glory.