British Waterways is embarking on a raft of design-led initiatives supporting a £5m investment in the waterway network this year.
It is also planning to slash its design roster in a bid to make the process of procuring design ‘more targeted and controlled’, says Russ Camplin, design manager at British Waterways.
The organisation currently works with 15 regional design consultancies, but will cull this to a dozen, with further cuts planned for the future. A roster review is scheduled to take place next February. ‘It is about getting the right resources at the right place, at the right price,’ adds Camplin.
The public corporation is responsible for the upkeep of the 2000-mile network of canals and rivers throughout the country and has allocated a six-figure design budget for 2005-2006. The investments form part of a long-term programme to double the number of visitors to waterway regions over the next eight years.
The organisation is also boosting its interpretative design across wayfinding and signage and reviewing its current interpretative roster ‘due to the demand within British Waterways for implementing projects’, says Annette Simpson, interpretation manager at British Waterways.
The moves come as the body unveils a series of branding projects. It is currently rebranding its two flagship visitor centres, the Anderton Boat Lift in Cheshire and Standedge Tunnel in the Pennines.
British Waterways is also planning to open 100 waterside pubs in a joint partnership with brewer Scottish & Newcastle Pub Enterprises. It has 20 development sites in the pipeline, augmenting its wider £420m property estate.
‘The pubs will not be a Mickey Mouse chain but will retain individuality,’ according to a British Waterways spokeswoman. They will feature design-led work, such as informational pictograms for boaters and branded British Waterways ‘elements’.
The first pub opens on 13 June at Foxton on the Grand Union Canal in Leicestershire.
British Waterways is also investing £80 000 to reassess its destination visitor centre in Caen Hill, Wiltshire. There are proposals to introduce branded eco-friendly accommodation on adjacent farmland and to create an underground ‘viewing tunnel’, enabling visitors to watch wildlife below the waterline.
A further £150 000 is being put aside by Yorkshire Waterways for the development of a ‘visitor improvement programme’ on Huddersfield Narrow Canal.
Key design groups on BW roster
Totem Design Consultants