Introducing Wander the Workhouse

Welcome to the first in a series of updates from the research team behind the “Wander the Workhouse” project.

Wander the Workhouse is one of Horizon’s agile projects – a set of short projects exploring impact outside of academia, within the Connected Media theme. Having kicked off in the spring of 2016, the project is working hard to produce a novel mobile experience for visitors to the Workhouse at Southwell, combining location-based technologies with interactive visual markers, to allow visitors to access hidden narratives inside the Workhouse as well as outdoors in the Workhouse grounds.

Built in 1824, The Workhouse is the best preserved example of the hundreds of workhouses built across the country. The system implemented here was developed by the Reverend John T. Becher and George Nicholls whose ideas shaped the way in which the poor were treated during the 19th century – The Workhouse concept

As part of ongoing efforts by the National Trust to explore new forms of visitor experience, we are teaming up to see how effective Horizon technologies can be as a way of bringing new experiences to visitors, and engaging new audiences. Rather than develop brand new technologies or radical new academic theories, we’re mapping out the process of working with the team at the Workhouse to turn two existing research technologies – Wander Anywhere and Artcodes – into a sustainable, real-world visitor offering. Together, we’ll work through stages of designing the visitor experience, creating prototypes, working with volunteers to test the experience, and evaluating the final product with visitors. While the Workhouse will come to understand the practicalities and benefits of offering the experience in the longer term (and the impact of building similar experiences into their long-term digital visiting strategy), we’ll also have a template for developing other indoor-outdoor experiences.

Stay tuned for future updates focusing on the technologies being used in the project, the process of designing the experience, and the ambitions of the National Trust for the Workhouse.

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