Category Design for Outdoor Recreation

Exhibition areas

A more developed stage than leaflets or on­site panels is an outdoor exhibition area. A number of panels—which might include text, illustrations, photographs, interactive devices and ‘touchy-feely’ exhibits (tree – cones, fur, antlers, stone etc.)—are arranged in a sequence, perhaps near where trails start. The design of the panels can be an extension in structure and materials of the information panels (see Chapter 4), taking the information a stage further into interpretation. An enclosure formed from the panels and open to the air and natural light can also work quite well.

Alternatively, a shelter of the type described for picnic areas or an overlook platform can be used to house the exhibition area, giving some weather protection and a vantage point to help relate the interpr...


On-site panels

In many areas, trails can have small signs or interpretation panels carrying short messages and pictures relating to features on the site.

There are many types of structure, as follows.

– Simple wooden posts of substantial dimensions can be angled off at a convenient height to provide a surface on which to glue or screw small plaques with an interpretative message. The message can be engraved into material such as plastic or metal, or printed on materials encapsulated in plastic or resin. The posts

should be placed so that they are orientated towards the point of interest. The plaques can be damaged accidentally or deliberately, so some maintenance and replacement will be required.

– Sawn slabs of wood in single or multiple units can be used for larger panels...



These are one of the most common and popular ways of interpreting the environment. They can relate to the whole area or to a part of it, perhaps to a single trail designed to follow a particular theme. Leaflets also provide a form of souvenir and something to refer to later.

The text of the leaflet can be related to points on the ground, such as plants, views or cultural artefacts, by means of photos or drawings that identify them, by points on a map of the route, or by numbered posts along the trail. The posts will have no meaning to visitors without the leaflet, and spotting the next post and interpreting what it relates to can become an exciting game for children.

The design of an effective leaflet is a specialist task, and it should be undertaken by a skilled graphic designer once the ...


Interpretative media

The media available for conveying interpretation are:

– people telling the story;

– leaflets;

– portable tape recorders;

– on-site panels (including listening posts);

– exhibition areas;

Подпись: A person—a ranger, interpreter or expert—leading a walk can be one of the best ways of interpreting the environment to visitors, who can ask

visitor centres.

questions, discuss issues and

perhaps be more convinced of the need to protect areas.

People telling the story

For many sites, especially those with complex and detailed stories and where the audience is likely to be a curious one, people who can explain and answer questions are very effective, although costly. There is the added advantage that the landscape is not littered with interpretative panels or signs detracting from the enjoyment of those people who may find such devices intrusive.

Подпись: A range of examples of interpretative leaflets from various places and produced by different organizations.

Listening to an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide can be very rewarding, and the...


Interpretation planning

Having got a general idea of the potential of a place for interpretation, some planning will be necessary This will ensure that the interests of the organization :md of the visitor will be harmonized, and that the; best methods are employed for the situation.

As in any plan there must be some management objectives, expressed in terms of outcomes from the interpretation programme for the organization and for the visitor. These can be described in the following ways.

– Behavioural: what it is hoped the visitor will do as a result of participating in the programme. This might be to visit particular places, to show more care for fragile areas, to purchase a souvenir, or make a donation.

– Learning: what the visitor is expected to take away from the visit...


Interpretative strategies

Before developing interpretative plans for individual sites it is important to consider the overall strategy for the whole area under management. Such a strategy can ensure that interpretation at one site complements rather than duplicates that at another, iind that opportunities for good stories are not missed. Such strategies can be developed by individual owners or agencies, or by consortia covering a much wider area.

A simple but clear example of a strategy is provided by the US Park Service at Craters of the: Moon National Monument in Idaho. This area has a strong character because of its recent volcanic history. A drive takes visitors through it after an introduction to the subject at a small visitor centre...


What to interpret

As a broad guideline, it is likely to be appropriate to develop interpretation programmes at sites if three basic conditions can be fulfilled:

– The site or location has something special, which is outside the general experience of most people.

– There are substantial numbers of potential or actual visitors who wish to learn something about the area.

– The site can accommodate the interpretative media to be used and possible visitor pressure.

The sort of place with potential for interpretation is one with unique physical, cultural, ecological or

historical features, processes or associations that are sufficiently special to attract quantities of visitors to go there as a day out, as part of a tour or as a school, trip. Examples include:

– historic sites such as Stonehenge in Wiltshire, Eng...


Why interpret the environment to. visitors?

Organizations usually have several reasons for engaging in interpretation:

– to increase the enjoyment that visitors gain from their experience, in the belief that an understanding of the landscape and aspects of natural and cultural heritage leads to greater pleasure;

– to increase understanding and appreciation of the area visited and of the great outdoors in general, to lead to a greater respect for it and recognition of the importance of conservation, protection and management (this arises from the first reason);

– to help managers at a particular place by influencing the patterns and habits of the visitors who use it;

– to convey a particular message relating to an organization or its activities in ways that leave a good impression in the minds of visitors;

– to increase sales of souv...


. Interpretation

So far, this book has covered the practical needs of visitors to the outdoors so that they can enjoy fully the experience of scenery, wildlife and physical activity. It is vital to ensure that the special qualities and the spirit of the place are not overwhelmed by the facilities and artefacts provided for visitors, as well as by the people themselves. Some basic information and orientation will also have been provided to help them find their way around safely and with due respect for the environment. If visitors are to gain a greater understanding about the wildlife, landscape and its heritage that they are visiting, this can be provided through interpretation, which is the subject of this chapter.

What is interpretation?

Interpretation has a recognizable history going back to the eightee...


Frame construction

Frame construction using sawn timber clad onto a timber frame looks more finished than the machined logs and may fit some landscapes, such as in Britain, where log construction is not traditional. The design of the cabin need not follow a traditional or domestic form, and can be of more neutral, asymmetric forms such as intersecting monopitches. A-frames can also be interesting and contrast with everyday residential landscapes. Trees, landforms or other natural features can be the source of inspiration for their design. Overhanging roofs, balconies or decks, cabins on stilts jutting out over steep slopes or water are all features that can be accommodated in appropriate places.

The external finish of the cabin should, as above, reflect the textures and colours of the landscape so that their...