Attempts to “bring history to life” are often staid and static. Not so at St Clement’s Caves. Auk proposed a revolutionary and refreshing approach to story-telling, bringing history into the 21st century, creating full-colour, immersive animated experiences, that put the caves at the forefront of both historical and experiential attractions in the UK.
St Clement’s Caves sit at the heart of Hastings – geographically and historically – but they have little presence in the town. And yet, the caves reach out through the hills of Hastings, hidden tunnels knock on the back walls of high street shops, waiting to break through into 21st century life. The caves needed to be given a voice – to be given the chance to speak for themselves and tell their own story.
Giving due respect to the caves’ history and form, we proposed to create a landmark audio-visual-sensory experience without cluttering the caves with props and paraphernalia.
From first entry, visitors would be immersed in the experience – the drip of water, the ripple of light on walls – transporting them gently back in time. Each zone within the cave system would explore a different period in the caves’ history. Using the most advanced projection technology, lighting, projection, modern CGI as well as sound, smell and touch, the caves would be transformed – a story appearing from a single point of light in the dark of the cave, flooding the walls, surrounding the visitor and immersing them in the story.
At the end of each story, as the light of the projection dwindled back to a single point and vanished, the caves would reappear, bringing visitors back to the here and now – to the reality of the caves as they exist today – enlightened by the story of their creation, of their use, and the people who have shaped them. We proposed, through expert re-branding and communications – to take the caves into the outside world – to boost their reputation and give them the presence and respect they deserve. Our plan considered branding, the journey to the caves, temporary exhibitions, commercial space, education and archaeology as well as long-term financial sustainability.