April saw the official launch of the final phase of the Westonbirt Project. The project started with the 2014 opening of the Welcome Building and new parking facilities, and finished with the building of new areas at Westonbirt – the STIHL Treetop Walkway and the Wolfson Tree Management Centre (comprising the mess room and machinery store). If you’ve not been to Westonbirt Arboretum, or haven’t been for a while, now may be a good time to discover it!
We thought it might be useful to share our experience and the process from concept through to completion…
We were tasked with creating an engaging, low-tech interpretation area for visitors to learn about the work of the Tree Team and to connect them further with trees through a deeper understanding of what it takes to care for a living collection.
Following a site meeting to discuss the project, the concept went through various phases of development, taking into consideration the stakeholders involved in the project. Here you can see how it developed from our earlier initial sketch through to the approved final design.
The team were keen to use the skills of a local artist from the start and so following concept approval we briefed in Jody Thomas to visualise the elements (bottom pic).
Working with Antomic Woodworking on the production and build; they measured, cut and base painted the elements, built the frame to hold it all together and designed, cut and built the interactives. The flat sheets (made from 18mm Tricoya) were then delivered to Jody’s studio for spraying.
On a freezing day in December, Antomic installed the project on site. The following day they installed the panels then we went along with Jody to meet Antomic and the Westonbirt team to spray the back and do the finishing touches.
Part of the project also included design and production of a Hotspot sign in their house style to guide visitors from the main path through to the interpretation area.
Following the build and finish, the interpretation area can now be viewed by visitors. It includes a toolbox which is changed regularly and allows people to see smaller items which the Tree Team use, as well as a blackboard which is updated monthly by the team so visitors can see them at work around the arboretum and will know what they’re up to and a ‘book’ which gives further details about the science behind their work.
The official opening ceremony was held at the end of April when the walkway, mess room and machinery store were officially opened by Ellie Harrison of BBC’s Countryfile.
You can see a summary and finished photos of this project on our portfolio page.