Ice House Design to unveil first stage of interpretation brief for National Trust Dorset attraction

Bath-based consultancy Ice House Design is working on an interpretation project for the National Trust attraction Corfe Castle in Dorset.

Corfe Castle is about 1000 years old and was left ruined following a siege by the Parliamentarians in 1646 during the English Civil War.

Ice House was appointed at the beginning of the year after a pitch against four other groups, according to the consultancy’s creative director Jack Owens. He says there had been little interpretation at the castle before, adding, ’As the castle is a ruin, people could go there and not get a lot out it.’

The consultancy was tasked with creating an interpretation project for the castle in three phases, set to complete in 2013. This had to take into account NT brand guidelines, as well as developing designs that would be appropriate for Corfe Castle and its surroundings.

Owen says the consultancy faced a huge challenge in that it was not allowed to go down into the ground due to archaeological reasons, or to touch the walls of the ruined castle.

As part of phase one of the project, due to be completed next week, Ice House has designed installations on locally quarried blocks of stone, each weighing almost two tonnes, and on green oak structures.

Owen says the stones feature embedded stainless-steel plates with graphics, and are overlaid with transparent polycarbonate (pictured).

Phase two of the project is currently being finalised, and it is hoped it will feature an external sound installation using wireless speakers (pictured). Phase three of the project will be completed by 2013 and will potentially involve building a new visitors’ centre.

Owen says the aim of the interpretation strategy has been to tell the stories of the people who have lived at the castle – including royalty. A pelican carving has been discovered at the castle, which is believed to signify that royalty lived there at one time.

Ice House’s work will also look at the story of how Lady Bankes held out against Parliamentarian forces in a three-year-long siege during the Civil War.

Owen says, ’The stories we are telling deal with treachery, murder, royalty and other elements of life at the castle.’

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