Hut 11a: The Bombe Breakthrough,
Bletchley Park

We have designed a new permanent exhibition at Bletchley Park, telling the story of the Bombe machines. Housed within the Grade 2 listed Hut 11a, the exhibition traces the history of the Bombe machine: from its inception during the technological arms race in Europe; to the genius minds which made the machine a reality and the vital Ultra intelligence it decrypted.

We wanted to demystify the complexity of the machine, with one of the highlights of the gallery being a full scale, working, replica Bombe. A graphic design language of diagrams, infographics and new touchscreen applications sit alongside digital interactives and replica components, allowing the visitor to follow in the footsteps of a Bombe operator and get hands on with the bombe machine.

The exhibition uses a number of multi-sensory and theatrical techniques to also engage the visitor with the human story of the Bombe. By listening to period radios and flicking through hand-bound folios the visitor can explore how Alan Turing, Gordon Welchman and others devised the codebreaking machine. New large scale films act as a threshold within the exhibition narrative, reinforcing the desperate need for a codebreaking solution in wartime Britain and the eventual breakthrough of the Bombe. This range of interpretive techniques across the exhibition have been finely choreographed into a dynamic audio-visual show control sequence which is synchronised with the regular running of the replica Bombe.

We worked with a creative team of subcontractors, to deliver this project including: Interpretation - Create Impact; Lighting Design - Studio ZNA; Video Design - FRAY; Sound Design - Carolyn Downing.

Photography: Gareth Gardner