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Kingsland's bold plan for a high-tech heritage trail

Kingsland QR codes heritage trailThe Auckland suburb of Kingsland is combining vintage with a vision for the future, testing out specially-designed heritage QR codes on some of its most historic buildings as part of a plan to create a heritage trail.

Smartphone users can scan the codes and go straight to a dedicated mobile website that gives instant access to information about the building in front of them.

The project is the work of a team of Kingsland creatives and Kingsland Business Society manager Christine Foley says the project is attracting a lot of attention. 

In association with Alternate Instinct and design company Virtual Eyes, Kingsland has plans to establish a heritage trail supported by QR codes for 12 locations.

Kingsland QR codes heritage trail"As far as we know, no one else in the world is linking QR codes on a heritage trail to a dedicated mobile website and we are expecting interest from both Kiwi and international heritage projects."

Plaques containing the QR codes and some written information have gone up on seven Kingsland buildings this week including the Old Post Office, Pages Building and the 1928 art deco public toilets (complete with modern conveniences).

Graphic artist Grant Levarre-Waters of Virtual Eyes, who worked on the Pages Building heritage plaque, says it was exciting to blend print and interactive media.

"And making the QR code look part of a graphic as opposed to a cheap little sticker made it a lot more fun. The branding felt right."

Old photographs were enhanced and cleaned up, then QR codes were given a little flair and colour, and overall design panels created. 

It was "great fun" playing with historical images, he says – "once you go back about 100 years all the photography is fantastic, super high quality" – compared to recent years when anyone and everyone can snap shots on a camera or small point-and-shoot.

Levarre-Waters says the current plastic panels are temporary, to get locals used to the look, before the council puts up permanent plinths. And that was another challenge, creating an aesthetic that maintained the community brand – one that wasn't overly trendy but would endure over the years.