Wordsworth Grasmere [DRAFT]

Image Credit : All images ©Gareth Gardner





Project Overview

The first phase of re-design work by Nissen Richards Studio at Wordsworth Grasmere opened in summer 2020 and encompassed the conservation and reinterpretation of Dove Cottage itself, where the great English Romantic poet William Wordsworth once lived, together with his sister Dorothy Wordsworth, plus the design of a new identity for Wordsworth Grasmere and all signage and wayfinding for the scheme. The refurbished Museum at Wordsworth Grasmere was the second phase of the project, with all gallery, exhibition design and interpretative overviews by Nissen Richards Studio and the building’s remodelling and extension by Purcell.

Project Commissioner

Wordsworth Trust

Project Creator

Nissen Richards Studio


Director: Pippa Nissen
Head of Graphic Design: Candy Wall
Graphic designers: Dario Pianesi, Terry Hearnshaw
Project architect: Andrea Hickey
Graphics Contractor: Leach (Internal)
Slate Signage: Gordon Greaves Slate (external)
Structure (Basebuild) : Civic Engineers
Basebuild Contractor: Parkinson
Basebuild architectect: Purcell
Project Manager / QS: Appleyard & Trew

Project Brief

The Wordsworth Grasmere site is complex and the wayfinding system needed to be extremely clear, visible and legible, as well as sympathetic to the landscape and its tones and colours. It needed to make good use of the new branding and identity system - also designed by Nissen Richards Studio – and work in a multi-layered way, including maps and pictograms where necessary, in recognition of the poet’s appeal to not only national but international visitors.

Project  Innovation/Need

The new wayfinding system uses local slate, with slate-clad metal frames for larger, freestanding pieces. The wayfinding wording is an etched and ink-filled graphic in a Soleil Regular typeface, accompanied where necessary by images from a grid of consistent and easily-comprehensible pictograms. These icons were bespoke designs to serve as clear identifiers for each unique part of the experience whilst also helping in terms of access and language barriers.

Design Challenge

A key challenge within the wayfinding design was to create a clear and visible signage that both complimented and respected the Grade I listed Dove Cottage and hamlet of Town End in Grasmere in which it is situated.
Nissen Richards Studio developed a series of signs that span in scale from small, single word signs to larger totems signs to highlight key thresholds on each approach, whilst also directing visitors. Larger totem signs were deployed at the car park and on the main walking route from Grasmere, on the periphery of the hamlet, to help signal to visitors their arrival at their destination as well as to draw in passers-by. As visitors pass through the village and get closer to the cottage and main entrance to the experience, the signs become smaller and more discreet to respect the historic buildings found centrally within the hamlet.
In utilising local slate, the signs were able to be integrated seamlessly alongside both old and new buildings as well as the wider Town End area.
‘The new brand that Nissen Richards Studio have designed for Wordsworth Grasmere perfectly captures the essence of Wordsworth’s legacy. It is contemporary and inspirational with a timeless feel and will be invaluable in helping us to shape a new identity for our organisation. We couldn’t be happier with it!’
(Emily Burnham, Marketing and Communications Manager, The Wordsworth Trust)


The use of locally-sourced Lakeland slate fulfils the client’s request to work with local materials and tradespeople wherever possible to underscore the Museum’s connection to the local area.

This award celebrates creative and innovative design in the ways people orient themselves in physical space, and navigate from place to place. Consideration given to signage and other graphic communication, clues in the building's spatial grammar, logical space planning, audible communication, tactile elements and provision for special-needs users.
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