Balancing heritage with the contemporary

Durkan Homes – Granary & Chapel

Building new housing developments in the urban and suburban areas of English towns comes with different considerations than most greenfield or rural brownfield sites. There is normally a long heritage to consider, as well as the role of the site in the history and culture of the local community. Durkan’s new development on Tamworth Road, Hertford, is a case in point. It’s built on the site of Hertford Town Granary and Chapel Mill, two nineteenth-century buildings that had fallen into irreversible disrepair. Any promotion of this development should consider this heritage, especially as it’s in a historic market town with 250 Grade 1 and 2 listed buildings. Bell was commissioned to develop a brand identity, brochure and numerous sales materials and marketing collateral for this development and find that perfect balance between respect for heritage and the aspirational pull of stylish, contemporary living.

Our response

We began with naming. To ensure a form of community and site continuity and respect for the past, we settled on Granary & Chapel, after the two former buildings. Our brand story emphasised the rich heritage of the site and town and the importance of fitting in with the community by being both familiar and reflective of it. Our identity was built around a distinctive ampersand which also acted as a messaging theme device and our campaign was centred upon storytelling. Colours were very earthy, with muted greens, slate, terracotta and rust to reflect the brickwork of the former buildings.

Our host brochures – both printed and interactive PDF versions – featured a lot of historical narrative as well as articles on local ‘heroes’ whom we interviewed, to help convey the true sense of community. To further help with this, our comprehensive local area photography was mostly done in a reportage style and with no models, for more authenticity. We have produced ample on-site signage and wayfinding including a large hoarding that features some of the interior and exterior CGIs we produced. Finally, we have produced a billboard, merchandising and numerous print and digital ads, including Instagram stories and Facebook feed carousels.


In a difficult market, over 70% of apartments in the development were reserved in the first year, and the on-site show home has received an enormous 538 enquiries. Durkan’s interior design strategy was deeply influenced by our brand story and visual identity, and Granary & Chapel was a finalist in the Best Interior Design category for the WhatHouse? Awards 2023 – the 43-year-old awards known in the sector as “The Oscars of the housebuilding industry.

Also, Bell has been awarded Highly Commended at the Transform Awards Europe 2024 for our work on Granary & Chapel by Durkan Homes in the category ‘Best visual identity from the property, construction and facilities management sector’.

What our client thought

“It has been a pleasure to work with Bell and the design team on branding for one of our developments. They really understood the brief and developed a perfect identity for our scheme which will always be remembered. Nothing is ever a problem and I would recommend their services any day.”

Sophie Mitchell, Marketing & Media Manager