100 Stories: Haymaking In Handsworth

Our group started looking at the space we are looking to transform for museum visitors. Our aim as a group is to take the public back to the rural times and to control their movement. We want to make the publics visit to the museum exciting and engage their interest, to provide them with information and history they didn’t know before.

As a group we decided to meet at the museum to look at the space we were given. We did research and took down notes on the size of the room to be able to get a rough idea on what we can do with the space provided to us. Our group drew up a rough sketch of the room and an estimate size to get us started. Looking at the space directly allows us to visualise and think about what we can do. The story of ‘Haymaking in Handsworth’ takes our mind to a barn idea, we want to create a rural type of setting.

After we juggled design ideas we all agreed and liked the idea of barns, which inspired us to think of more ideas as to how we can take that forward. We want the room to be dark so that it makes the public feel and seem like they have been taken back in time.

We started to research barns and how they look. To learn and sketch out the structure of barns was a very important aspect to work from in designing the whole appearance of the room and barn. We started sketching out rough ideas of a barn structure we can develop from and research into the artefacts, so we could get a better understanding of the atmosphere we wanted to create for the public.

Artefacts that were given to our group to choose from were of rural poverty experienced by people such as farm labourers which was another contributing factor to many buildings not surviving suburban expansion. And another painting described the polluted industrial town of Birmingham which appears to come to an abrupt stop in the painting (Oil Painting: Distant View of Birmingham by William Creswick).

Possible placement of artefacts needed to be discussed with our group and so we started choosing certain artefacts to put in the design which we can somehow bring to life in the design. The main focused artefacts were the horse-cart, the frock and the bird collection.

The horse cart will be place in a separate barn because the object requires a huge amount of space. It will make quite an impact on the public because this will allow them to see the small details.

The frock could be hung from the ceiling and a light from above to highlight it. There are patterns on the dress that are quite delicate which will be shown when the light shines down on the artefact for the public to look at. Another idea was to place the frock onto a mannequin and light shining onto it to highlight details.

The size and quantity of the bird collection is big, so we started to play around with where the bird collection should be in the room. We discussed about how effective it would be if it was all stuck in one place taking a huge amount of space which would be a waste, so we decided to place it all around the room for it to be interesting and keep the publics eye wandering around the whole room.


A motion sensor will be placed inside to detect when the public come into the barn, so the lights can turn on and the sounds can be heard. This is how the sound and lights will be activated. LED strips could be used to show the visitors their way through the barn without tripping over and give them a clear view of where they are walking. Show-lights will be activated onto the artefacts to highlight details to be observed and catch the eye of the individual/individuals.


The typical colours that could be used for the barn and the design space are burnt orange, mustard yellow, dark brown, mud Brown, black, off-white, green, and grey. These colours will make the room look rustic, and this will make the individual feel like they’re in the modern world if the colours are used correctly. The props would also create this effect. If there are dressing up items: a rack of clothes from the era of the items for little children to dress up and/or adults, this will allow the public to interact with our design and placing small items around the room will bring the idea to life; props such as hammers, nails (harmless), paint pots, buckets, bays of hay, pieces of wood (planks), saws, small wooden bench, brooms, etc. The tools–nails, screws, shovels, spades, screwdrivers will be effective and take you back to the rural times of farm labourers.  If piles of wood are lying around, this will make the atmosphere more real with the rural effect.


Layout development: placement of the barns is crucial because the way people move will determine if our design was effective.

A problem we found out was that people were not going into the area past the pillars making it look isolated and so our focus was on the movement of the design to make sure the people see every artefact and to captivate their attention with every detail we place in their way.

Our group was more focused on controlling the movement of the public and where we want to lead them. There are sketches of our initial concepts and how we want to take an individual on a journey. As a group, we analysed the publics movement when they walk into the space. Where their eyes wander and where their attention moves which then is followed by moving into that direction. We wanted the people to discover every little detail and not miss any of the experience. The drawings below show the different design structure of the barns which will be in our final design.

There are sketches of potential barn structures/ideas we have developed. One of the ideas was that the two walls of the barn are solid and the other two walls will be the structure of the barn, this makes the design look open, this will grab the publics attention which then results with them walking in and out.

The design layout of another barn idea has one solid wall and the rest with the structure of the barn. This design is the more open one of them all which makes it suitable for a large artefact (horse-cart) making the whole barn open, showing the structure of the barn looks interesting and rustic.

We also sketched up a drawing making it dark on the inside till the lights are activated. It’s the typical barn design you would see in the rural times and therefore taking you back to them times which is our aim for the design.

The space left outside the barn needs to be big enough for people to walk through and not trip or hurt themselves. We have several floor plans that our group decided to sketch and develop their ideas from.

The roof structure of the barn will need to be secure and strong. The sketches were a good idea of how the roof structure could be made to look interesting in different ways. But more importantly it needs a strong hold and the interesting design is an upside to be highlighted if lights from the ground shine up on the roof design, and therefore resulting in showing the shadows of the roof design.

Our group thought visuals would be the most effective way to show our ideas and designs, so we started to make models, of possible barn structures/ideas, roof structure, the whole room space that we have been given (open floor plan model to work from), the way we want the public to observe the artefacts and much more.

Our final model was made from cardboard to show the layout of our room design and where and how the barns will be placed. The sketches and our research clearly demonstrate our room design idea for the story of ‘Haymaking In Handsworth’.

The blog is shared and written as a group. When our group had a meeting we would always write down what we were sketching and/or researching at the time because we thought it would be better to upload and share our process together.


Our Group-Haymaking In Handsworth: Danish, Ben, Keon, Farjana, Sekaia. (BCU)-CoLab

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