WILD ZONE, RSPB Minsmere
By the time we won the tender to design a new Family Discovery Zone for the RSPB's flagship Minsmere site, they had done years of audience development work. The aim was to do nothing less than pave the way for greater family engagement RSPB-wide and enthuse a new generation of members.
In a really exciting process we worked with the wider design and client teams to shape the scheme with a strong emphasis on the visitor journey. What began as a distinct 'Zone' became a reserve-wide approach, supporting families' exploration of an established nature-watching culture from first approach via the car park, right through to the hides.
We ran messaging workshops to develop a detailed interpretation plan, and designed exhibits to deliver everything from factoids to more spiritual experiences, from storytelling to physical play. The Wild Zone is where families let off steam, with a giant sandmartin nest tunnel complex, a migration maze, a seasonal sundial and a spotter station - helping visitors learn expert binocular techniques through the novel medium of cracker-quality jokes. Light-touch 'discovery' exhibits dotted through more heavily-protected parts of the reserve encourage nature spotting - such as a willow 'River Watch' hide for tots, a nature challenge in a tree stump, and a series of 'Sky Watch' seats - both poetic and comfortable thanks to the talents of carver Luke Chapman.