Tandem Design

The Guildhall

Visitor Experience

The Guildhall


“… our work here demonstrates our skill at integrating interpretation into a very special building in a way that is entirely reversible.”

Tandem were appointed to provide interpretive design services at the Guildhall as part of a thirty month, £8m programme of major renovation works. These works marked not only the city’s 400th anniversary but also its designation as the inaugural UK City of Culture. 

Our interpretation focused on the Plantation as a human-mediated process rather than as an  abstract ‘event’. We emphasised the agency of a number of  – often surprising – factors and protagonists rather than viewing the Plantation as something that ‘happened’ to Ulster. 

We facilitated a number of creative workshops with the client to define the final object selection and with the local community to agree the exhibition’s key themes. As a result the exhibition encourages the visitor to challenge their own ideas about 17th century Ulster and Ireland.

The Guildhall is still very much a working building, so our work here demonstrates our skill at integrating interpretation into a very special building in a way that is entirely reversible. Our interpretation engages visitors with the beauty of the objects displayed and the architecture & fittings - of for instance Guildhall’s beautiful stained glass -  rather than obscuring them.


We designed a flexible panel layout including overall look and feel, typographic treatment, balance of text and image, and use of colour palette, whilst considering the constraints of the optimum viewing band and accessibility requirements.

Our design provides multiple, layered opportunities for engagement with visitors while remaining respectful of the sensitivities surrounding the historical content. Large typography details - dates, pull-outs and large titles for example - help the visitor to obtain information on a variety of levels, rather than through ‘dry’ text heavy paragraphs.

We collaborated with the project architect to input into the elements of the restoration and  construction works, for instance M&E, lighting design, interior colour schemes.

We ensured full management and cost control of the £475,000 interpretive fit-out budget, including procurement and art-direction of specialist sub-contractors and other graphic elements, such as touch screens, animations, audio tour guide and physical interactives.

Our layered approach to the design ensures a wide variety of audiences are catered for. Information can be tailored to suit their own interests and available time.

AHI Awards 2015
The Guildhall, Derry~Londonderry, Commended Museums and Historic Properties Category