The centre will open at Beefeater Gin’s home in Kennington where people can learn about ‘the story of London gin.’
Chivas Brothers, which owns Beefeater Gin, appointed Four-by-Two to develop a master plan for the design in a way that would not disrupt production.
Beefeater London: The Home of Gin combines interactive exhibits with the chance for visitors to see, touch and smell the botanicals used in the gin making process.
An entrance and reception area houses retail and services, where many original features have been kept. New features include a red reception desk, illuminated product display walls and an installation featuring Beefeater bottle tops arranged in the form of the London skyline.
This section leads on to the self-guided exhibition area where interactive consultancy Contagious has designed films, animations, touch screens, soundscapes and iPad interpretations as well as the overall design of this section. Contagious was also responsible for all branding and communication within the visitor centre.
Contagious design director Ewen Griffiths says, ‘By mixing different types of interpretation, such as animation, films and iPad interpretation with more traditional historic set building we have been able to celebrate Beefeater’s heritage and continuing leadership in the ever innovative global drinks market.’
These interactives cover gin’s beginnings on the infamous Gin Lane and touch on how the influence of travel and trade led to the discovery of new flavours and spices from around the globe, and the effects this had on gin production.
This section also covers cocktails influenced by the Art Deco era, prohibition, and the story of how Beefeater founder James Burrough made the move from pharmacist to gin distiller.
The experience gives way to a tour of the distillery’s Still Room where visitors can watch gin production and they are brought to this space via a purpose built external stairwell tower.
Four-by-Two founding partner Bob Thwaites says, ‘Space for the main reception, retail and exhibition areas were easily identified to be housed in former loading bay areas, but the logistical challenge was to find a means of connecting this ground-level area with the must-see Still Room – the culmination of the visitor journey – on the second floor of the adjacent building, but without crossing into live production areas.’
The solution – the external tower – was designed by architects Lee Boyd and is constructed in black concrete clad in copper-coloured fins that take inspiration from the copper distillation stills within the distillery. The design also references the gasometers that stand opposite the Beefeater site.
Finally visitors enter a tasting room located in the lower level of the distillation hall.
Glass ceilings allow views up into the cathedral vaults of the distillation hall. Illuminated graphic displays highlight the botanicals used in the production process of Beefeater Gin.
A shuttered concrete bar-front and contrasting black glass back-bar contribute to a ‘London look and feel’.