A ruined mansion, a crazy bishop and a library perched impossibly on a cliff!
Telling the story of Downhill:
At the start of the project, the project team carried out research to identify the knowledge that visitors to into the attitudes and knowledge that visitors to the site. This revealed that little is known of the local history related to the area, even by those that live in NI. Both tourists and those that near the coastal route said they felt Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne is not well-promoted compared with other Cultural Heritage sites in the area, such as Giant’s Causeway or Carrick-a-reed rope bridge.
Many visitors said they came to the site as they ‘stumbled across it’ when driving to Giant’s Causeway or Portrush, or when visiting Benone or Downhill Beach. Once at the site, they actively look for information related to the history of the site – either brochures on site or using a search engine on their phone to look up the historical significance.
Visitors to Downhill are intrigued by the historical myths and stories that surround the site, especially those related to the eccentricities of Bishop Hervey, who built the Temple in the 1800s. But there little is accessible in the space in terms that tells the wider stories associated with Bishop Hervey and his contribution, historically and culturally to this site.
According to various sources, the man whose family is well known for many reasons
- He is said to have brought the age of enlightenment to the city with his liberalism and tolerance.
- In a time savage religious discrimination he openly supported the cause of Catholic emancipation
- He was well travelled, cultured, an art connoisseur, multi-lingual and an enthusiastic amateur geologist.
- But he was also bit of an oddball, packed full with peculiarities. He was widely regarded as an eccentric character and a host of bizarre tales infuse his lifestory.
So the challenge in creating the application, was an attempt to transpose these stories, into applications and practices that would, for the user, create stories in place, through methods that involved being in that place.
The approach to story-making was to understand how mobile technologies in layering physical places with digital spaces, might prompt learning and behaviors in visitors, that would in essence contribute to a place-making experience through innovation in mobile applications.
The project was essentially a move towards more exploratory performative aspects of storytelling and understanding how innovations in digital technologies, can facilitate this.