Edinburgh goes Green with biodiversity visitor attraction

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is undergoing major brand development and structural work to establish the region’s first major national biodiversity visitor attraction.

A swathe of consultancies, including Bright 3D, the group born out of Navyblue 3D, Nevis Design and London architect Edward Cullinan, are working to create what could be Scotland’s answer to the Eden Project, due to open in 2009.

The aim of the £15.7m Gateway project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Scottish Government and a number of private donors, is to provide a state-of-the art visitor centre at the RBGE that will communicate the organisation’s work to a wider audience.

RBGE head of projects manager Chris Minty explains that an exhibition hall, designed by Bright 3D, as well as retail space and a real-life science studio will constitute the key components of the visitor centre.

‘We’re trying to communicate ideas about conservation, biodiversity, climate change and sustainability through our collection,’ says Minty. ‘There will be a number of visual displays in glass cabinets, alongside original notebooks from George Forrest and Charles Darwin. The real-life science lab will be linked up to our field sites [such as one in Belize], meaning that we can hold lectures and communicate directly as scientists find things,’ he adds.

Bright 3D projects director Harry Fisher says that it is the main aim of the permanent and temporary exhibition areas to emphasise the role of plants in our everyday lives, while highlighting the importance of biodiversity for the planet.

Nevis Design is developing branding for the overall RBGE organisation, which includes three more regional gardens across Scotland. Nevis commercial director Mike Lynch explains that the consultancy was drafted in to take over the RBGE branding when Arc Worldwide, which won a public brand strategy tender in 2006, went out of business.

‘We had been in communication with the marketing manager, an old contact from a previous client, so that when Arc went out of business after phase one, we stepped in,’ he says.

RBGE briefed Nevis to develop the RBGE Sibbaldia identity, as well as to create a more democratic naming structure for its three other regional Scottish gardens.

‘We need to give the regional gardens a sense of their own identity and brand, but at the same time recognise the Edinburgh mothership,’ says Lynch.

One of the approaches that Nevis is considering will focus on is creating regional ‘sub-brands’, taking plants indigenous to each region as the visual cue.

The consultancy is also to devise a set of brand guidelines, as well as overseeing implementation across signage, livery, marketing literature and digital touchpoints, and develop retail ideas on how best to maximise sales.

Botanic Scotland

• The four gardens under the auspices of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh are Benmore (Argyll), Dawyck (Stobo) and Logan (Port Logan), as well as Edinburgh

• Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh claims that the gardens together make up the UK’s largest collection of plants

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