The Battle of Vimy Ridge took place in April 1917 near Arras, northern France. During this offensive, four Canadian divisions and one from the United Kingdom managed to beat the German army and to take control of a ridge of hills of strategic importance. It was not the most important battle in the history of World War I, but for sure in the national conscience of Canada.
The success of the Canadian forces helped shaping international recognition for Canada as an entity independent of the United Kingdom. In fact, the Battle of Vimy Ridge became a milestone in the country’s evolution from a British dominion to a sovereign nation state. After the war, France expressed her gratitude by donating Canada a vast site on the ridge, in order to build there what is known today as the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. It is dedicated to those soldiers that never found a proper grave.
Ahead of the centennial ceremonies in 2017, the memorial was expanded by a visitor education center, which is the project featured in this post. It is a pavilion-like structure marked by a large window row facing the trenches of the former battlefield. The inward walls provide the surface for the exhibition design, conceived of by CL Design from Paris.
Apart from the exquiste exhibition furniture, the hall’s eyecatcher is a huge colorized photograph of Canadian soldiers on one side and a typographic wall on the other side, expressing the oath “We will remember” in English, French, and German. These three languages can be found throughout the entire exhibition. The typeface used for these large-scale applications is Granville by Production Type.
Granville is a sans-serif design, not monolinear but with a marked stroke contrast. This way it has a certain elegance and connection to the epigraphic tradition in all-caps use, a point stressed by the graphic designers. On the other hand it has references to French modernist type designs of the 1920s which make it fit well with the Vimy Memorial site.