Andrew Stokes, chief executive of Marketing Manchester, said the city’s new port of call for visitors is the best of its kind in the country.
Stokes said of the £800,000 facility, designed by BDP and installed at Bruntwood’s Piccadilly Plaza: “We believe the new MVIC is an industry-leading, best practice example of how visitor information should be provided and we are delighted with the finished result.”
BDP said it approached the 270 sq ft shop unit with a ‘gallery of information’ concept to the design process as opposed to a more conventional office or retail format.
This led to the inclusion of a series of 6m x 1.5m sleek ‘monoliths’ situated in rows across the centre of the MVIC which act as utility tables and house a number of Microsoft Surface tables – an innovative computing platform that responds to touch, natural hand gestures and real-world objects placed on them.
The Surface tables’ touch-screen displays disseminate a wealth of information, maps and interactive features to help visitors discover the city. The new MVIC is the first visitor information centre in Europe to deploy this intuitive customer technology.
Other technical innovations built into BDP’s overall design include a 6m x 3m HD video wall that dominates the rear of the visitor centre. The video wall displays a rotating collection of promotional films highlighting different aspects of Manchester’s cultural offer.
A digital ‘ticker’ display is planned for the window display which will inform visitors externally about what’s on in the city 24/7.
Jasper Sanders, head of design at BDP’s Manchester studio, said: “In the age of the iPad and an ‘always on’ flow of news and information the idea of a tourist information office with people queuing, piles of what’s on leaflets and a ‘you are here’ map on the wall seemed antiquated. We also wanted to reflect Manchester’s accessibility and openness, its tradition of embracing new ideas and the city’s inherently cool image.
“To do this meant adopting a ‘less is more’ approach to the space and to let smart technology and knowledgeable and enthusiastic floorwalkers tell the story of the city – rather than offer customers a rigid bureau counter and racks of guide books often found in more traditional tourist information centres.
“I’m thrilled with the positive response the MVIC has enjoyed since opening; and I’m proud that BDP has played a key role in creating a space that will be utilised by tens of thousands of visitors looking to discover all that Manchester and the North West has to offer every year.”
Tourism bosses expect the new MVIC to significantly increase the number of visitors that access tourist information, which currently stands at 300,000 a year. Manchester currently welcomes more than 1 million international visitors a year and the city-region’s tourism industry is worth £5.5 billion annually.
The bright and modern design was welcomed by other public sector partners who helped pay for the centre. Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, added: “The new visitors’ centre looks fantastic and is providing a great first impression. It’s bright, cutting edge and welcoming – all qualities which we believe reflect the character of Manchester itself.”
Nick Brooks-Sykes, director of tourism at the NWDA, commented: “This investment in MVIC brings the centre right up to date; it provides an innovative and engaging visitor experience.”
Source: Place Northwest