The island of Madeira is to receive a â‚¬6.5m (£4.3m) visitor centre next March, with exhibition design, identity and signage created by Leicester consultancy Haley Sharpe Design.
The Story Centre is the latest venture by local developer Blandy Group. It aims to launch three more centres, including a â‚¬30m (£20m) venue in Lisbon, Portugal, over the next three years. Haley Sharpe will continue to act as design partner.
Blandy Group director Luis D’Aguiar says the concept grew out of market research, which revealed that visitors to Madeira wanted an ‘interactive, entertaining and cultural introduction to its history’. He adds, ‘They were interested in learning how Madeira became what it is, but didn’t want a museum.’
Madeira’s Story Centre, which will occupy an adjoining warehouse and 1930s cinema in Funchal Old Town, will boast multimedia displays – including interpretative text panels, films, interactive games and full-size reconstructions relating the island’s history from its volcanic origins to the present day.
The identity will feature iconic figures from Madeira’s past with speech bubbles carrying the straplines ‘Did you know?’ or ‘Have you heard?’ and will be applied across exhibits and the centre’s cafÃ© and retail space. ‘It has to be iconic and something that transcends languages, because exhibits will be in Portuguese, English, French and German,’ says Haley Sharpe creative director Jan Faulkner.
Haley Sharpe beat UK groups Furneaux Stewart and Sarner to the project, after an unpaid creative and credentials pitch in March 2003. The work carries a â‚¬2.6m (£1.7m) design budget.