New Norcia / Interpretive Signage.

It must have been a sign.

New Norcia is Australia’s only monastic town, with the Monastery, where the monks live, work and pray, at its heart. The monks of New Norcia live according to the guidance and rhythms of The Rule of St Benedict, which has been followed by monks since the sixth century AD.

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In 2012, Axiom Design Partners were appointed to partner with the New Norcia Benedictine Community to build upon the findings and recommendations stated in a previously commissioned Interpretation Plan.

We have been privileged to have the opportunity to partner with the community to develop and implement interpretative signage across a variety of installations throughout this most significant place.

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Our role included the development of a design strategy and style guide followed by the development and design of specific signage projects – both interpretive and wayfinding. The scope of the project also required the management of tendering, fabrication, installation and maintenance.

We believe that signage is more than just functional, that you can use their form to enhance the sense of place, to orient, guide and engage at multiple levels with people’s emotions and memory, thereby adding a valuable layer of meaning and memory to a place.

These interpretive signs combine the rawness and enduring material Cor-ten steel, which is then ‘wrapped’ with finely etched stainless steel interpretive panels. This represents both the strength / persistence as well as the craftsmanship that the New Norcia monks are renowned. The interpretive signage appears to be ‘extruded’ from the earth and bows in reverence to the place it interprets. The steel of the plinth will rust and take on the personality and patina of its environment, further reinforcing the signs connection with the site.

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The initial signage program interpreting 20 significant sites throughout town, was completed in 3 stages over 5 years.

The signage is consistently commended by visitors to the town. The materials are gracefully ageing and have indeed taken on, and become one, with the place in which they help interpret.

As the interpretive signage program expanded, new locations required different responses – and the flexibility of our design solution has been readily adapted for other interpretive uses, such as the Mission Cottages Interpretation Centre and the River Walk interpretive trail.

It is a project we are proud of and grateful to have had the opportunity to been involved.

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