Saint George’s Abbey is a heritage site located in Stein am Rhein, Switzerland at the confluence of the Lake Constance and the river Rhine. The former Benedictine abbey is excellently preserved and features outstanding cultural treasures.
A new permanent visitor experience was developed as part of a wider redevelopment of the site into a modern visitor attraction. SLT is responsible for the interpretational design, signage and the overall identity. The permanent visitors experience is conceived as a series of four interventions throughout the site.
A place of many stories
Although the site is an abbey in its architecture it was only used as such until its dissolution during the Reformation. Since then it experienced a multitude of usages. Over the course of its 1000 years of existence the abbey has become a place of many stories.
Light boxes are placed against an almost 1000-year old wall with touch screens placed in front of it. To cater for different image sizes the light boxes come in portrait- and landscape format, each in three different lengths. Every light box represents one story  associated with the history of Saint George’s Abbey. As a whole, due to their varied visual content, the light boxes convey that the place is not ‘just’ an ancient abbey, but a place with a diverse and rich history – a place of many stories.
On touch screens visitors can gain more informa­tion about each story. On these touch screens the stories are presented through an eclectic, yet cohesive mixture of text, images, film and motion graphics.
This first intervention is followed by an architectural model and isometric representation of the site to allow a visitor to gain an overview of the entire site.
An outstanding cultural treasure
Saint George’s Abbey is most famous for the so-called Banquet Hall with its early-Renaissance paintings, which are considered to be unique north of the Alps. Due to their secular content the paintings remained untouched during the iconoclasm of the reformation. Rich in details the they allude to many political issues of the time of their creation.
The third third intervention allows visitors for the first time to fully access the Banquet Hall and experience the wall paintings up-close while learning about the many stories they contain.
The interpretational design shifts between the overall narrative and the high-lighting of specific details. The high­ligh­ting of details lets the visitors learn about stories, they might otherwise not be aware of. At the same time it seduces the visitors to study the wall paintings in more detail. All graphics are designed with great precision to guide the visitors without competing with the paintings.
The legend of Saint George
A wall projected animated film by Berlin-based film maker Agnieszka Kruczek tells the legend of Saint George and the Dragon, the patron saint of the ancient abbey. The film starts and ends with the completion of an almost vanished wall painting of Saint Georg dating from the Middle Ages.
Project development
The entire visitor experience was developed as a team effort to guarantee the interplay between the content, its structure, narration and implementation into the existing space.
The touch screens where developed in close collaboration with the curator to ensure a seamless interplay between the content and the storytelling. Thereby SLT was responsible for the development of the information structure, the storytelling, user interface design, motion graphics, the technical evaluation and oversaw the implementation.
To optimise the user experience the deve­lopment process was accom­panied by frequent user testing. The method employed therefore was so-called think aloud protocols. Thereby not only the functionalities and navigation patterns where tested but also the comprehensibility of the content and the storytelling. Further refinement took place after the installation based on of user feedbacks.
The touch screen application is custom built and comes with an easy to use custom back-end.
Scope of work:
Editorial concept & design
Environmental graphics
Interaction- and user interface design & implementation
(including the evaluation of technology)
Motion graphics
Overall visual identity
Project partners:
Architectural design and master planning: Holzer Kobler Architekturen
Animated film The legend of Saint George: Agnieszka Kruczek
Engineering and furniture manufacturing: Girsberger
Coding touch-screen application: Panter

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