Avanti Architects has been entrusted by English Heritage to lead the implementation of a new masterplan for Dover Castle, aptly named ‘Guarding England’s Gate.’ The project encompasses a series of phased interventions aimed at significantly enhancing the overall visitor experience at Dover Castle, one of the United Kingdom’s most historically significant castle complexes.
The initial phase, completed in 2020, focused on the redesign of two visitor cafés located within Grade I listed structures within the castle site: the Naafi Restaurant and Keep café. Each café underwent a thoughtful redesign that included specialised catering facilities, new serving areas, and custom seating arrangements to optimize the catering experience. The architectural design also incorporated graphics and visual identity elements, such as a typographical backdrop showcasing the historic gun exhibited in the dining space, as well as medieval artwork displayed above the newly introduced Keep booth seating.
In addition to the café redesign, our involvement encompassed the implementation of priority conservation repairs to the Northern Defences. This phase involved carrying out specialised repair works on several key Scheduled Ancient Monuments, including the Spur Casemates, Medieval Tunnels, East Curtain Wall, and Constables Tower. To ensure the preservation of the exposed curtain walls of the castle, innovative techniques such as ‘soft capping’ were employed for added protection.
Currently, we are collaborating with play and interpretation designers, as well as the English Heritage curatorial team, to explore the extensive collection of artifacts housed on the site. Our aim is to understand the layers of history and stories associated with Dover Castle, exploring different methods of display and installation that seamlessly integrate digital storytelling, augmented reality, sound, light, and tactile experiences. Through these techniques, we seek to create an immersive narrative that enriches the visitor journey.
In parallel, we are developing an interactive and layered new game centred around the Great Siege of 1216. This engaging experience targets the 13-18 age group and will be intricately woven into the new visitor journey, providing an exciting and educational connection to the castle’s historical context.
MATERPLAN AND REFURBISHMENT OF GRADE I LISTED CASTLE
Location Dover, Kent
Photographer Gefei Dong