WW100 Programme Office
France, Belgium & UK
Design & Build
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Following on from Ngā Tapuwae Gallipoli, we needed to tell the larger story of New Zealanders during the First World War in Europe, focussing on the Western Front.
The Western Front experience presented a larger challenge than the Gallipoli experience. Twice the amount of content, three countries to navigate, different languages and place names to consider, several years of the First World War to journey through, and larger, more complex battles and military operations to decipher.
A research trip to Europe was vital to this project, so our director Chris Hay, along with New Zealand historian Christopher Pugsley, spent several weeks walking battle sites and key areas of historical significance in England, France and Belgium. Videos of Chris Pugsley talking through the history at each site became the basis for scripts which would later be turned into audio stories for the app.
Christopher Pugsley at Havrincourt Bridge, France.
The Western Front App is a mobile documentary designed for the traveller. Its aim is to be an all-in-one travel planner, battle-site guide, and reference tool for visitors to the Western Front.
At its heart is an audio guide for each of the trails – ten distinct tours that visitors can take while travelling through England, France, or Belgium. The guide is created in a way that you can either choose an overview of a trail - if you have limited time, or an extensive battle-site tour – for those with time to roam and explore at leisure. The tours are integrated into travel planning tools and suggested itineraries.
An integral part of the experience, interpretive signage was designed and made by Locales in Wellington. Physically, the signs had to be sturdy and able to withstand the elements and climate of Europe. Featuring detailed maps and information specific to the area, the signs were installed at key sites at Brockenhurst in England, Passchendaele and Messines in Belgium, and Longueval and Le Quesnoy, France.
A sign installed at Messines, Belgium.
Installed at popular war museums in France and Belgium, the dioramas add to the Ngā Tapuwae experience. The models show New Zealand soldiers and what life was like for them overseas. At Carriere Wellington, Arras, France, life underground is shown with a subterranean cutaway. The Musée de la Grande Guerre in Meaux, France, displays a rugby game between New Zealand and French troops, and the Plugstreet 14-18 Experience shows soldiers living underground in their dugouts.
The diorama at Plugstreet 14-18 Experience Museum, Belgium.
Another important component of the Western Front campaign is the website. Updated since Ngā Tapuwae Gallipoli, and functioning as a simple travel-planning tool, the website introduces the project and gives visitors the option of choosing between Gallipoli and the Western Front. For a brief experience of each trail, you can stream the overview, and guide maps and e-books are also available for download.
The brochure is the final piece of this multi-platform experience. Like with Gallipoli, we wanted the brochure to work as a map to the key sites, as well as being a souvenir.
The end result is a richly illustrated multi-platform travel guide and visitor experience.
Whether at home or travelling through Europe, visitors can tailor their own journey, gaining valuable insights into the Western Front with the app’s detailed visual guides and evocative audio stories.