Intelligence Factory, Bletchley Park, UK
Famed for playing a key role in the Allied code-breaking operations of WWII, Bletchley Park is a popular heritage attraction and museum. With beautiful grounds and historic buildings, Bletchley Park combines stunning architecture with a fascinating story of success and achievements.
The venue recently opened the Intelligence Factory, a new exhibition in Block A that has now taken pride of place as the largest exhibition space on the site. The Intelligence Factory brings together objects, personal stories, and interactive elements to share the story of Bletchley Park’s wartime operations between 1942 and 1945.
Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA), multidisciplinary experts in the planning and design of museums and exhibits, was appointed to design the Intelligence Factory exhibition. Their brief was to bring the stories of this key period in history to life, showcasing the importance of the work conducted at Bletchley Park, as well as the experiences of the staff living and working at the site.
RAA were also tasked at highlighting the site’s relevance in today’s initiatives and operations to tackle crime and supply intelligence where it is needed.
Multi award-winning lighting design practice Michael Grubb Studio was brought into the project to deliver the lighting scheme. With extensive experience of illuminating heritage sites and visitor attractions, the team were the natural choice to work alongside RAA.
In order to elevate and illuminate the historic artefacts and information that is housed in the exhibition, the lighting needed to enhance the narrative and provide depth.
The team provided advice on a range of areas including ambience, lighting control, functionality, future-proofing and the preservation of the exhibits. They also offered guidance on the complex issue of emergency lighting, whilst ensuring it was fully compliant, yet carefully integrated and less visible. This ensured the focus was on the exhibition, artefacts, and an interactive immersive experience.
The project was not without its challenges, as it needed to balance quality against budget and programming. Despite these challenges, the final result is stunning; an invisible, flawless, and integrated system. Every element has been carefully aligned with an individual piece of information within the exhibition. Whether up close to an artefact or reading text from the wall, the lighting is always over the viewers shoulder so as not to create glare or cast shadow. Therefore, the content is easy to read, understand and engage with.
Where possible, specified lighting products replicated the historical aesthetics, whilst integrating modern day technology and control systems that ensured energy efficiency and cost savings.
Stuart Alexander, Associate at Michael Grubb Studio said: “The Intelligence Factory was a joy to be part of, we’re proud that we developed the best solution to ensure the exhibition was as glare and apparition-free as possible with this carefully focussed exhibition, the best lighting should always be unnoticed, allowing the visitors full immersion in to the content and experience. We had an excellent working relationship with the design and client team throughout the project and this is led to ensure the exhibition was delivered with care and precision and the exhibition can be enjoyed to it’s full potential”.
Scope of Works
Michael Grubb Studio