toucan team

The Mast House - Plymouth University


Plymouth University


Graphic Interpretation & Interiors


The Mast House is a three storey building situated at Sutton Harbour, on the waterside of Plymouth. Although a modern building, it sits on a site of major historic significance, with links to many noteworthy historical events, intrepid explorers and successful and notorious entrepreneurs. Plymouth University took a lease on the building to house their postgraduate business school.


The building sits within amazing surroundings, but is relatively small and has dark and narrow corridors and main thoroughfares. The brief was to design interior graphics which would enhance the space, making it an uplifting space in which to work and study.

Toucan’s visual interpretation of the Mast House project is truly inspirational. They have realised the ambition and created an open and energetic space which cleverly uses visual effects to ‘frame the world’ and connect us holistically to our marine environment – the vibrancy of the colour and imagery blends seamlessly with the informational purposing of the interior.

Dr Hilary Duckett - Director of Plymouth Business School

'Locally embedded but with a global reach' – The Business School has long associations with all things marine and maritime - many of the courses are based around global logistics and supply chain management for example – and works in destinations around the globe. Hong Kong, Nigeria, SE Asia, as well as Europe are all areas in which student links are/have been made - and the school was keen to show this global reach.

Working alongside business school academic Paul Wright, a ‘timeline’ charting the history of Plymouth was developed into an engaging, informative and light-hearted info graphic. Starting in the main entrance way (at the year 1308) and continuing up the main stairwell, and forward through time, it finishes at the second floor with the present date.

In addition, the major communal areas and teaching spaces were named after international locations, selected to reflect the partnerships that Plymouth University have created within the Business School. Large wall graphics depicting four port cities – Colombo (Sri Lanka), Boston (USA), Geneva (Switzerland) and Shanghai (China) – were used to decorate the walls.

A similar graphic approach was taken with the refectory area. Simply named The Mast House Café, a large mural depicting a repeat pattern of stacked shipping containers was developed, not just adding colour and aesthetic to this area, but reminding and reaffirming the visitor of their own connections to, and reliance upon, the global consumer market.

All of the graphic resolves were designed to:

  • impress - students, visitors from the local business community and notaries from overseas partner institutions
  • engage - the various stakeholders
  • Inform - tell the story of the various aspects/facets of the business school
  • decorate - be an aesthetically pleasing environment in which to work

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