The Earth Centre

The Earth Centre, The Millennium Commission


Exhibition | Interpretation | Wayfinding and Signage

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Design and build, artworking and production management of all site-wide interpretation for the Earth Centre, a visitor attraction promoting sustainable living which was created on the site of a disused coal mine. Designs included banners, sign systems, interactive visitor site guides, product designs and exhibit interpretation for the Earth Centre’s Phase 1 opening in 1999. Work involved extensive research into sustainable materials and printing and fabrication processes, in order to contribute to a showcase “best practice” site.

Our contract was to handle design and build for the site interpretation, including research, commissioning and overseeing a wide range of printers, banner-makers, sign-makers and other 3D fabricators. Our work on product design for the Earth Centre Shop involved our own research on innovative, sustainable products, plus close collaboration with a product-sourcing company.

Further background: All pieces were created through a process of research into the most sustainable and innovative methods of printing and fabrication available (this really kicked off our ‘sustainability resource library’). For example banners were made of polyester bunting rather than PVC. They only required a bit more maintenance; in short taking them down and putting them in the washing machine from time to time. The banners act like giant sails; they have wind vanes at the top to turn them in the wind so that they can blow up and down.

Signage – fingerposts and other interpretation panels – were made from recycled polystyrene cups. The cups are recycled and then compressed and extruded into white panels which are extremely hard-wearing (a sample still exists in the portfolio). We also included wind vanes on top of fingerposts signs which could spin in the wind, pointing towards something that are all around you like “Fantastic Future”.

Site guides called EarthTrails (for adults) and EarthAdventures (for kids) had covers made from recycled plastic shopping bags collected locally. Artist Hannah Greenaway creates the material by melting down all types of plastic bags into flat sheets. It’s nice to occasionally find a receipt sandwiched inside.