Finalist 2023

Pentridge Tours Branding

Pentridge Precinct / Art Processors / Your Creative / National Trust Victoria

The Pentridge Prison Tours brand hones in on the physical experience’s uniqueness and the importance of a cutting-edge experience digitally.

Pentridge Prison Tours is a unique and creative tourism offering that opened to the public in late 2022. The brand needed to reflect this new offering by showcasing the history of Pentridge Prison through immersive methods, honing in on the essence of the physical experience and cutting-edge experience digitally.

The public experience is one that evolves over time, as opportunities emerge to tell stories of Pentridge prison. The new brand also needed to form a clear connection to the existing Pentridge Precinct identity while highlighting a strong connection to The National Trust brand, ensuring they’d work together.

Design Brief:

Finding a link between Pentridge’s past and its future was a core part of the design process. As a place with a dark past, with an identity that challenges and confronts, it was important to create a visual identity that represented the new tourism offering while remaining respectful. Pentridge Prison is deeply connected to the cultural fabric of Australia — it is a place to learn and reflect, but also a place to feel inspired.

The brief also asked to work in collaboration with the experience design experts at ArtPros, to take into account and gain an understanding of what the final immersive offerings from the tours would be.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

The design solution needed to acknowledge Pentridge’s history whilst maintaining commercial assets to drive sales. From a user/visitor perspective, the identity seeks to evoke curiosity and emotion, but which emotion? Should visitors feel empathy, sadness, or anger towards a broken penial system? The design solution needed to allow a wide spectrum of emotions, making minimal assumptions. The complexities of the project’s audiences formed the base of a high-level brand strategy that led creative.

Parallel to our target audience’s needs was the needs of the Precinct, the Prison Tours brand exists within the same ecosystem. This includes bars, restaurants, a cinema, a hotel, and a supermarket. The community spends time here, respecting Pentridge as a place. Taking from that insight, our solution too, drew inspiration from the place.

The brand mark represents the physical experience; when during Pentridge’s restoration period, archeologists unearthed remains of an old panopticon at Pentridge, initially used to keep prisoners isolated. As part of the tour experience design, the panopticon serves as a reflection garden.

Stripping this panopticon back into vector art forms, created the base for a concept. The colour palette is also inspired by Pentridge and its surroundings, with the iconic bluestone creating the base. Earthy colours with nods to history through darker, sombre hues helped convey the tone.

For representing archival materials, a distinct collage style, along with specific graphic iconography shaped the future of the brand and website concepts.

Lastly, experience design was fundamental to our design solution. Art Processors designed a range of immersive audio tours which meant ensuring the brand complimented the tech-driven storytelling taking place within cells.

Design Excellence

Dark history is a difficult communication challenge in itself. Pairing this with state-of-the-art immersion technology is a unique project in Australia. The design is clever, leveraging themes of reframing history by paving new ways to tell stories and experience a confronting past in a respectful way.

Audience intent needed to be extensive and kept in mind throughout. The Pentridge Tours brand is distinct in its look and feel but maintains cohesion with Pentridge Precinct. The collage style design and colour palette selection captured the essence of Pentridge's history while positioning the brand for a digital experience.

It helped reframe silence and isolation to reflection and community, through inclusivity and a deep understanding of audiences, locally and abroad.

Design Innovation

In collaboration with Art Processors, we learned about a history that is confronting to discover — and successfully created a visual identity that enabled Pentridge’s audiences to become a part of the ongoing dialogue.

To understand the overall impact of the Pentridge communication design project, it’s important to contextualise what Pentridge was before restoration. After closing in 1997 as a prison, Pentridge existed as a neglected site, a collection of bluestone buildings with no purpose and a detriment to the local Coburg community.

The new vision reimagines Pentridge and shifts public perception. From a physical perspective, Pentridge has become a meeting place for the local community as well as a national tourism location bringing new visitors to Northern Melbourne.

From a societal perspective, the Pentridge Prison Tours offers renewal and healing. A place where modern, dark history can be approached via storytelling and reflection. This allows Australians to engage with our history and stands as a reminder not to forget.

Design Impact

By tackling complexity through communication design, this project highlights the role of brand in the creation of place and experience. Due to the physical nature of the brand rollout, the identity is designed for longevity as the Precinct offering evolves and more vendors arrive. The physical space of Pentridge Prison Tours, in the former Wardens Quarters, holds its own unique identity.

Lastly, in an industry where a brand is often used as a vehicle for commercial gains, without a particular action or emotion in mind, Pentridge Prison Tours was a refreshing opportunity for communication design.
It offers an invitation to engage with stories that should never be forgotten, taking it from a meeting place to a destination with national and international interest.

Circular Design and Sustainability Features

When considering the application of circular design thinking for Pentridge Prison Tours, we wanted to focus on creating a sustainable and immersive digital experience that reflected the unique and historical aspects of the physical tour. The key aspects we considered for Pentridge Tours were:

  1. Sustainable Design with 'Dark Mode': Optimized the website design to be visually immersive and engaging while keeping it lightweight to minimize its environmental impact, with a 'Dark Mode' toggle option. Dark Mode can help reduce energy consumption on devices with OLED or AMOLED screens, contributing to a more sustainable user experience.
  2. Storytelling and Circular Content Strategy: Designed the website to be an extension of the physical tour, offering immersive storytelling and interactive elements that allow visitors to explore the history and stories of Pentridge Prison, through digital instead of print, enabling the reduction of paper waste.
  3. Engaging Community: Bringing back life to a site that was considered derelict, helped foster community and collaboration in Coburg. From fuelling an artist economy and the tourist economy in Coburg, Pentridge Tours has had a positive impact on the local community, with the goal to become a global attraction.
  4. Education about Preservation Efforts: Sections on the website highlight preservation efforts and ongoing conservation work related to Pentridge Prison and the surrounding precinct.
  5. Adaptability: The website design is scalable to accommodate future additions of new experiences and historical information as opportunities emerge over time.

By applying circular design thinking to the website development and overall brand strategy, Pentridge Prison Tours can offer a unique and sustainable tourism experience that celebrates history while contributing positively to the environment and community. It allows the brand to evolve over time, adapt to new opportunities, and foster a connection between the physical and digital aspects of the tour.

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