Marking 100 years since the First World War, the State Library was tasked with putting on an important exhibition that told the personal stories of Queenslanders’ involvement in the First World War. POMO was asked to assist in the design of this important event.
The State Library of Queensland has general public access from the ground level, in order for visitors to navigate their way into the exhibition space, they needed to be guided to level one. POMO developed wayfinding directional signs that were themed around the exhibition, using life-sized actual images of the people involved in WW1. Part of the challenge was to ensure they were stable and safe, incorporating the use of sandbags not only made them stable but also added a further reference to WW1 and enhanced the visitor experience.
The black panels at the foot of the sign provided a means to convey directional information while leaving the image area clear for maximum visual impact and to retain the authenticity of the images. The use of these characters also provided visitors with an insight into what the upstairs exhibition might entail.
The exhibition team wanted to immerse the visitors into the stories of the exhibition via an engaging and interactive ‘postcard writing’ workshop. There were more postcards sent during World War 1 than in any other conflict. The theme of the postcard was central to the exhibition and it helped tell the personal stories of Queenslanders’ involvement in the conflict.
The aim of the activity was for families to engage in the exhibition in a practical way by writing a ‘postcard from the war’ as if they were a real character in the war. POMO’s challenge was how to present this interactive activity to the attendees, how to make it simple enough to work and how to make it work physically within the confines of the existing space.
A strategy was developed that revolved around visitors potentially entering the activity area from two entry points. Instructions had to be clear at each entry point. The activity needed to work during peak visitor periods where many people might be within the space. Placement of instructions, graphics and lettering had to be carefully mapped and measured to ensure readability from different heights, perspectives and in the event that visibility was obscured by other visitors.
The interactive activity was made up of a number of ‘characters’ from the war. Instructions at both ends of the space told the visitors what they had to do, the addition of cartoon characters helped explain each step.
Visitors were asked to choose a wartime character that appealed to them, illustrations of soldiers, officers, nurses and others were placed along the walls. Visitors could choose a character then pretend they were that wartime character, taking a postcard from the racks and sit and write to someone at home as if they actually were overseas in the conflict zone.
When we set out to design our studio we approached it like any design project, we began by identifying the priorities and creating a strategic framework to guide the decision making.
The initial priority was to create something simple to build, something sustainable, creatively inspiring and something that was cost effective. Through research it became clear that achieving these things was not necessarily difficult.
Working with the landscape design team POMO were able to create a number of key design initiatives that would contribute to the locally inspired placemaking program and deliver on practical community needs.
POMO was engaged to design and construct a number of landscape elements. Each element was custom designed and born from the uniqueness of Palmwoods, they reference local history, using locally sourced materials and were being made collaboratively with local craftspeople and artisans.
Underlying this was a larger design and management process run by POMO involving construction design, design reporting, engineering certification, construction and project management and installation on-site. A true multidisciplinary and multi-skilled program with a wide range of stakeholders and projects participants.
The project won the Excellence Award at the 2018 Queensland AILA awards for Civic Design. It also won gold in the same category at the national awards.