Lafayette Escadrille Memorial Cemetery
The American Battle Monuments Commissions Lafayette Escadrille Memorial Cemetery commemorates the birthplace of American combat aviation and is a lasting symbol of the Franco-American comradeships during the First World War.
When invited to complete the design development and fit out for the caretakers’ cottage we were thrilled to take on such a challenging project and to work alongside Haley Sharp Design, the development project saw its transformation into a visitors centre. The building was designed to provide a warm welcome to visitors, introducing the historical context of the Memorial, starting their discovering into the stories of the young men who lost their lives during the world wars.
As with any project taking place outside of the United Kingdom, extensive forward planning is required for the successful running of the project. Prior to beginning the project we understood the limited time available for us to access the site, just three weeks in total. This short time frame for on-site works to take place added additional stresses during the fit out of the visitors centre. With a challenging base-build and the logistical challenge of delivering items to France from the United Kingdom, each day had to be accounted for and utilised. The Visitors Centre was designed to be highly visual and interactive, as the first port of call for visitors, it needed to encourage their journey of discovery. The visitors centre engages every audience, providing all necessary information for the duration of their visit, with various audio visual elements and tactile, interactive features. The visitors centre showcased a number of specialist display cases suited for displaying medals, including a large cylindrical, conservation display case for a uniform of one soldier. An exciting aspect of the design development saw the production of half a Nieuport 17, displayed on an antique smoked mirror creating the illusion of the plane emerging from clouds. Assembling the plane was one of the most challenging aspects of this design development. The assembly was an unknown process to our construction team and the process had to be studied carefully before its application. Transporting and fitting the plane on-site saw some difficulty, as it had to be securely transported to France from our base in Redditch. After having transported and mounted the plane, it became evident as to why this was an essential element to the visitors centre. The overall finish of this transformation from caretaker’s cottage, to visitors centre was of an incredibly high standard.Photo Credit © The Hub