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Signage Spatial Orientation




Spatial Orientation

Beate Kling Torsten Krüger

“When information is brushed against information, the results are startling and effective.” Herbert Marshall McLuhan






Prologue – Orientation is life


Beate Kling

Integrated signage Hubert Nienhoff














Red doors, green doors, yellow doors


Falk Jaeger







Corporate identity – Building identity Torsten Krüger











Integration of signs and space







Universal design


Analogue communication of information






Analysis and systematic specification of information requirements Beate Kling








Orientation design Torsten Krüger







Project data


Standards, guidelines, regulations




Photo credits














Digital communication of information Michael Schwanke-Seer



Beate Kling

Beate Kling




Ruedi Baur










Epilogue – The iconography of the third millennium Torsten Krüger





Prologue – Orientation is Life Beate Kling








Red Doors, Green Doors, Yellow Doors Falk Jaeger








1 10 11

Beate Kling

Prologue – Orientation is life

Modern civilisation seems to be driven forwards by new media, by the flood of information they generate and by the effects of this saturation. Our information- and science-based society makes it possible, essential even, for knowledge and communication to be transformed with the aid of digital information technologies, in real time and in seemingly infinite abundance, into information which can be accessed quickly and which is permanently available. In order to make information useful and accessible, it needs to be processed and organised – orientation is essential for this purpose. For example, some members of society are calling for more grassroots democratic participation in the form of “liquid democracy”, and demand more transparency. However, does transparency, with the surfeit of information it entails, create more trust and thus improve orientation? Or is this trust displaced by the increasing degree of control which the transparency process brings with it? 1 Does transparency, then, lead to better orientation or is the decision simply to trust the more expedient choice in terms of achieving orientation, because control restricts freedom of action? The complexity of these issues is increasing all the time, and demands continuous orientation; occasionally this also gives rise to a need for collective validation. This urge for reassurance becomes more pronounced with increasing loss of orientation. Orientation is thus a crucial aspect of human behaviour, it forms an important basis for existence. A person who loses their sense of orientation can suffer the loss of one of their most fundamental capacities, their independence, possibly their self-esteem and their sense of identity. “As perspective is lost, so the need for orientation increases. […] People only feel at ease where they have a clear perception of things.” 2 However, clarity cannot be achieved purely through order; identity, differentiation and hierarchies are

also necessary for the further categorisation of information. Identity, the unity of thought, feeling and action, is an important prerequisite for our ability to make individual decisions concerning orientation. Differences form the basis for differentiation, because identity is inconceivable without distinction from the other. Where identity exists, this implies a difference to others. But it is differentiation and distinction which makes orientation possible in the first place, in society and in science, in markets and in the media: for example, it provides the rationale for the existence of instruments such as corporate identities or brands.3

What is orientation?

The philosopher and linguist Heidrun Kämper has studied the semantics of the term “orientation” in depth.4 In addition to situationally defined interpretations like position and fixity (stability) and goal-oriented interpretations such as positioning and direction, for her, as well as examining its original usage and the contexts in which it is used, the meaning of the term can also be considered in the light of Immanuel Kant’s reflections. In his essay “What Does it Mean to Orient Oneself in Thinking?”, published in 1786, Kant already recognised the importance of orientation on three levels: as derived directly from the word “orient”, in the sense of identifying the cardinal directions by the rising sun, that is to say orienting oneself geographically; on a second, spatial level, namely within a given space, that is to say mathematically; and on the abstract level of thinking, i.e. logically. The use of the term “orientation” is bipolar – it is used in both a negative and a positive sense, that is to say, with reference to the loss of orientation or its acquisition.5 In summary, Kämper arrives at the conclusion that “orientation […] is an ordering concept of human consciousness which guides decision-making and action”.6 Ultimately, orientation

represents a social technique – life and survival depend on orientation. However, it cannot function without independent thinking. For example, however clear signage systems may be in spatial contexts, the active use of such systems is a condition for their success. In further examining the term “orientation” and its meaning, we now need to look more closely at the way it is used.

How is orientation achieved?

Humans are equipped with qualities, on both a biological level and a neurological level, which naturally enable them to orient themselves. In the first instance it is our senses – vision, smell, touch, hearing, taste – which send us signals to assist us in making a decision. The function of the senses is to take in, process and store information. In doing so they create experiences which can be recalled and so influence new decisions. The individual senses assume increased importance for purposes of orientation if one or more of them is restricted or not available at all. The basis of perception is shifted. This is of particular importance for accessible building, when supplementary or additional orientation aids are used to compensate for deficits. But what are the processes which enable us to make decisions? According to discoveries in neurology, orientation is developed when our existing perception of a particular event collides with our experience of subsequent or peripheral events and these are then placed in relative perspective. This collision may possibly initiate corrective processes for thinking and action – and thus assist in achieving orientation.7

Where does orientation take place?

Orientation is of importance in social, political, economic and even religious contexts, as evidenced by catchwords such as “value orientation” or “basic orientation”. However, orientation also plays a role in the movement of markets, in the information society and in human interaction. Moreover, when decisions on direction are made on the basis of the sum total of knowledge acquired and the results lead into a new dimension, this can open up new perspectives. Orientation in geographical-spatial contexts, that is to say in  natural or designed landscapes and urban spaces, both indoors and outdoors, functions best if these spaces are self-explanatory, i.e. if the chosen structure already provides orientation and this aspect was integrated at the design stage. This is possible if the design is conceived as a holistic process. However, interacting with the media available today also requires orientation. We are permanently surrounded by both analogue and digital mass-media. It is not we ourselves who seem to determine our life, but increasingly the influence the media has on us. As far back as 1964, Herbert Marshall McLuhan, regarded as the founder of 20th century media theory, summarised his insights in the mantra “the medium is the message”. He argued that it was not the content which a medium communicates but the medium itself and its properties which influence the society in which the medium exists. In doing so he drew attention to the continually increasing need for orientation which arises through the continuous interaction between a medium and society. The fascination of digital media lies not in their multifunctionality; rather, the unconscious effect originates from the media itself, which not only combine a wealth of functions with good design, but above all can serve as a metaphor for lifestyle and social status.

Orientation is an aspect of culture

So who provides orientation, and how is it provided? For Heidrun Kämper the important thing is, “what orientation means – for those who seek, need or wish to acquire orientation; and for those who offer, provide or promise orientation and thus shape social conditions”.8 If we are able to perceive and interpret the complex levels and principles of today’s pluralism, we can derive principles for orientation from these. In addition to the initial increase in understanding, the concept of responsibility plays a crucial role here. Orientation is only possible if responsibility and independent action are permitted by society itself. Ultimately, it is conceivable that each individual will then be able to provide their own orientation. Orientation is a high-precision instrument which we use for the continuous process of navigating our way through our environment. Our degree of orientation is a measure of the existential orientation of the self, our relationship with others and with the other, of the state of a society. Looking at Greek society today for example, we can see how the ability of a society’s structures to function can be seriously disturbed if overall social orientation is lost. This shows that providing and visualising orientation is no longer simply the concern of the creative disciplines, it involves a broad range of services, provided by people to people, founded on the basis of different specialist disciplines, on scientific findings, accumulated experience, acquired knowledge, and also belief. To be oriented is positive, because it brings certainty, re assures, gives us time to think.



Prologue – Orientation is life

12 13

Unity and identity

Orientation and the actions associated with it are psychological stimuli which, through the decisions which continually need to be made, more or less consciously influence, structure, delay or accelerate our daily life, as well as influencing the direction of our actions. The ability to orient oneself is an essential survival skill which is fundamental to human behaviour – on the one hand it allows us to orient ourselves as individuals within social structures, in media, within markets, in short, within society, and to position ourselves within this society; on the other hand it enables us to recognise spatial contexts and reach desired destinations within these. The illustration of orientation is therefore correspondingly important within the context of space, both within buildings as well as outdoors and in urban areas. A wide range of different disciplines are concerned with the design, both visually and in terms of content, of orientation within these spaces, pursuing the same goal with a greater or lesser degree of coordination depending on the specified or chosen requirements profile. The integration of orientation elements in the structural context of global, urban or landscape structures requires the collaboration of architects and specialist engineers, lighting designers, communications and media designers and designers of digital information technologies, including theoretical disciplines. Another partner of equal status and importance here is the client, who will in turn have their own requirements. The cooperation of all these disciplines is essential for success and, more and more, a necessary response to the increasingly complex demands of our time. In this context the end product, the building, is taking on an increasingly multifaceted significance. It is no longer simply a  shell designed – however well – to fulfil certain functions.

Architectural structures are increasingly burdened with expectations in terms of a fundamental communication function which, initially, seems to have little or nothing whatsoever to do with the building itself. Even on first contact, that is to say within the wider environment of a company or institution, one is already confronted with issues of identification, with the display of corporate culture and corporate goals, of identity and brand – with signage. This supposedly secondary product in the design of buildings is, from the client’s viewpoint, increasingly becoming a primary means of achieving visibility within the finely intermeshed, ever more uniform network of global and regional competition and of providing the target public with orientation. The means employed range from the design of simple aids to orientation to complex information, orientation and signage systems, from the company’s corporate identity to  the design of buildings which translate the messages communicated by a brand or institution into architectural structures – messages which also need to be understood in this form. Fundamentally, signage involves more than simply trying to provide answers to the questions “Where do I find what?” or “Where do I need to go?”. It doesn’t simply provide information, it enhances its reception with the aid of expanded content by combing architecture, design and digital information technologies with colour theory, psychology and neuropsychology, sensory perception and cultural identity. The deliberate integration of architectural structures with orientation and signalling components as well as the projection onto architectural spaces of corporate policy goals such as brand development and brand management ideally culminates in a “building identity”, the extension and objectified embodiment of the corporate identity – from CI to BI (see Corporate Identity – Building Identity, p. 50– 55).

Orchestration and integration

The orchestration of signage is increasingly becoming an important element in buildings design. For example, new communication technologies make it possible to locate destinations in buildings in advance using the internet, or on site through interactive GPS navigation, and are increasingly being used to supplement conventional information systems; in the future they may even replace these. The fundamental objective here must be integration rather than addition. However, the integration of orientation systems in the architecture can only succeed if the brief is formulated at an early stage in the planning process and the necessary partners involved in good time. It is vital that the client, in particular public sector clients, be made aware of the importance of this aspect. Often enough, after all the budgets and schedules have been finalised, the bare minimum necessary – or at least the cheapest option – is commissioned, or even temporary measures resorted to. One of the aims of this publication is to raise and focus awareness of this aspect, and of the necessity of integrating signage as a matter of course. Different approaches have been taken in achieving this integration. For example, the Dutch communications designer Paul Mijksenaar speaks of “Instructional Design”9, that is to say instructional, self-explanatory design providing unambiguous signals. However, the task can also be understood as involving the “creation of space at the interface between architecture, communication design and new technologies” 10. The concept of Universal Design, originated by the American Ronald L. Mace, goes even further. This ambitious approach is aimed at ensuring that all environments and products can be used in all circumstances by all people, irrespective of their age, abilities and situation in life. Signage represents an important aspect in this context.


In addition to examining these aspects, this book explores the interfaces between architecture and communication design as well as media and information technologies. These transitions are fluid. The contributions made by the different disciplines illustrate the differences in approach; a mutual influence and awareness between disciplines is the intention and goal of these collaborations. This publication is intended to present a comprehensive overview of the complexity of the different aspects of signage which need to be taken into consideration, as well as the different tools which are available for the design of signage and orientation systems and the wealth of possibilities they offer. In this way it can serve as a guideline for planning and interaction between interdisciplinary partners.

1 Han, Byung-Chul: In the Realm of the Nameless Nude. In: Tagesspiegel, 29th April 2012 2 Geberzahn, W. O.: As perspective is lost, so the need for orientation increases. In: Lutsch, Christian; Lahaye, Heinz-Peter (eds.): Positions. Orientation in Society, Science and Media. Implications for the Design of Processes and Strategies. Ostfildern-Ruit 2003, p. 11 et seq.. 3 ibid. 4 Kämper, Heidrun: Orientation – Semantics of a Keyword. In: Lutsch, Christian; Lahaye, Heinz-Peter (eds.): Positions. Orientation in Society, Science and Media. Implications for the Design of Processes and Strategies. Ostfildern-Ruit 2003, p. 18 – 35 5 ibid. 6 ibid., p. 34 7 Linke, Detlef B.: Orientation in Thinking. A Neuroscientific Perspective. In: Lutsch, Christian; Lahaye, Heinz-Peter (eds.): Positions. Orientation in Society, Science and Media. Implications for the Design of Processes and Strategies. Ostfildern-Ruit 2003, p. 174 –180 8 see footnote 6 9 Mijksenaar, Paul; Westendorp, Piet: Open Here. The Art of Instructional Design. New York 1999 10


KATTA CIVIC POLYCLINIC SHIROISHI, J Signage: Hara Design Institute, Tokyo

POLYCLINIC Minimalistic Red as a signal colour

14 15

The white surfaces used throughout the building create an immediate association with the idea of health. The colour red chosen for the signage in the examination and consultation rooms as well as the modified logo of the International Red Cross symbolise assistance and healing. All necessary information, reduced to the essential, is marked on the floor and walls, performing the role of guidance. The lettering on the floor is inlaid with red linoleum in the white flooring; the red crosses point to intersecting main corridors within the clinic and combine direction indicators, information signs and escape route directions in a single signage system. The signage is minimalistic in concept, using a clear language of words and symbols, and reflects the demands of the medical environment, in particular the restrictions and obstacles which are often encountered in such a setting. The oversized symbols and different designs of arrow symbol as well as the clear contrast between the information and the surroundings facilitate problem-free orientation. The colour used for the information signs varies; in the examination and consultation rooms area they are red, whereas on the wards they are green.

The signage is easy to follow because the information displays are restricted to the essential and work in similar way to an illustrated user manual.

KATTA CIVIC The signage information is fully integrated into the floor surface as red linoleum, making it more durable than if it were merely applied.


SURRY HILLS LIBRARY & COMMUNITY CENTRE SYDNEY, AUS Signage: Collider, Sydney Architecture: FJMT, Sydney

Rotated elements provide directions Same materials used for interior design and signage

16 17

The architecture of this community centre and library opens itself to the surrounding public space via extensive glazed areas, blurring the boundaries between indoors and outdoors. This theme of blurred distinctions also characterises the orientation system, which picks up on this in the form of integrated signage consisting of elements skewed at different angles to project from or recess into the wall surfaces; in the same way that the building meshes with the surrounding area, the information signs are connected visually with the architecture. The orientation system is – seemingly incidentally – integrated directly into the interior design. The dimensions, materials and colours of the elements are each matched with the materials used to cover the walls – with a mineral material on the ground floor and maple wood on the first and second floors, painted white. The typography and the direction arrows have either been engraved into the materials or stand proud of them, thus forming part of the surface. The rotation of the guiding elements echoes the inclination of the glass facade, establishing a connection between shell and content, interior and exterior. The visitor’s attention is drawn to the orientation system exclusively through rotation and typography; nonetheless, it develops a presence of its own.


Rather than forming a separate graphic level, the orientation system is integrated in the architecture.


FORUM NOVÁ KAROLINA OSTRAVA, CZ Signage: Gourdin & Müller, Leipzig/Hamburg Architecture: OMA, Rotterdam (design concept); Floris Alkemade Architect; Heinrich Böll, Essen; T + T Design

KAROLINA Simulated glow effect Colours as metaphors

18 19

By 2015, a new quarter containing residential, office and commercial buildings will be created on the disused colliery site adjacent to the city centre of Ostrava, a centre of the Czech coal and steel industries. A signage system was developed, both for the quarter and for the already opened Forum Nová Karolina shopping centre, which, using the colours black and blue as metaphors for coal and steel, refers to the history of the place. The system consists of information points in the form of portals, free-standing “steles” showing a location plan, floor overviews and service information signs as well as directional information displays and destination confirmations. Slim, black rectangles with glowing steelblue edges define the minimalist, technical visual theme of the information elements, creating a striking appearance in combination with a steely cool typography. The direction arrows have an accentuated long shaft; their unusual arrangement on the signs emphasising the reference to movement. The interplay of form, materials, light and graphics makes reference to the fascinating fusion of the material with the intangible, as manifested in the transformation of coal into steel and electricity. An expressive, futuristic visualisation of this theme is found in the floor numbers on the overview panels and the large format pictograms used for the sanitary areas. Due to its immediate proximity to Poland and Slovakia, many foreignspeaking visitors are expected in Ostrava, which is why additional pictograms are included, to provide information on different means of transport, infrastructural links and leisure facilities.

´ FORUM NOVA The typography is distinguished by its consistent form and strict geometry, the graphic design is inspired by steel and coal industries associated with the region.


1 20 21

Falk Jaeger

Red doors, green doors, yellow doors

In the first instance, familiarity with places enables us to orient ourselves within urban and architectural spaces. If we stray into unknown spaces, we first attempt to recognise familiar patterns of order. Intuitively we find the way from the edge of the city, with its marginal structures, along the arterial roads and into the dense and busy inner city much as we find the way from the railway station to the town hall. We have learnt how a central European city is organised. We can also confidently find our way to the lift in a hotel or to the bathroom in an unfamiliar house because we have learnt to deal with typical floor plans. Only if the structures are unique, unconventional or confusing, or if complex structures become too large, do we need to resort to systems of signs. Signage provides assistance where we can no longer recognise any codified indicators.

Development of signage systems

That signage systems for orientation only advanced beyond the traditional signpost in the early 19th century is attributable to the radical social transformations of that time. Although cities with populations numbering tens of thousands had already existed in the past, mobility was limited in those eras, so inhabitants’ intensive local knowledge was sufficient for a functioning urban society. The few outsiders managed to find their way around by asking for directions. In contrast, traditional oriental patterns of urban development, without centre or hierarchy of roads or alleyways, cannot be “read” by strangers, either intuitively or consciously, and thus represent an extreme case of lack of orientation. Yet they still function because the inhabitants know every nook and cranny. In earlier times, labyrinths of alleyways offered a certain degree of protection, since attackers could neither orient nor organise themselves. The Kasbah is chaotic, but only to outsiders. Visi-

tors can always find a child ready to serve as their guide and lead them to their desired destination. In the 19th century, Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann cut the now admired boulevards like aisles through medieval Paris with its maze of streets, partly in order to create an imposing city plan, but above all to create clarity and order and thus allow the rebellious population to be more readily controlled. The Place de l’Étoile, with its connecting streets radiating out in a star pattern, is nothing less than a Baroque “Jagdstern” or hunting star, from the centre of which hunters could spot game crossing the forest rides. Game or insurrectionists, it was open season.

House numbers, introduced in central Europe during the 18th century as conscription numbers for fiscal or military purposes, were only generally assigned street by street in the mid-19th century and thereafter could also serve the purpose of orientation. Standardised number plates soon replaced the numbers which had orginally been painted on the walls of buildings. In some cities, each plate also carries the street name (in Vienna, for example, preceded by the number of the district), in others an arrow points in the direction of the ascending numbers. Street signs, place-name signs on roads entering a town, welcome signs posted on autobahns on federal state boundaries as well as the coats of arms displayed at national borders are expressions of a topological-organisational hierarchy. The standardisation of these signs emphasises their character as signals, which also applies to the signposting system: white for local destinations, yellow for nonlocal, blue for autobahns, brown for tourist information. Through everyday familiarity we have absorbed this principle to the extent that when travelling abroad – anticipating something similar – we rapidly learn the system in use there. Interestingly, this transfer process also functions in other contexts. Signage in large complexes and buildings such as airports, exhibition sites, sports facilities and suchlike frequently makes use of familiar routines and uses hierarchically ordered, differently coloured verbal and graphic signage systems. The colour guidance system devised by the painter Max Buchartz for the Hans-Sachs-Haus in Gelsenkirchen. partially reconstructed or reinterpreted in 1995, originally ran through all the stairwells. Each floor is assigned a particular colour. Architect: Alfred Fischer, 1927

1972 Olympic Games

For the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, the graphic designer Otl Aicher developed a signage system combining text and graphics, which became internationally the best-known and influential of such systems, setting standards which still serve us today. Aicher had found the family of pictograms which the Japanese graphic designer Katsumi Masaru had designed for the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964 too complicated and figurative, so in his designs, he reduced athletes to matchstick men which people from all countries would be able to recognise at a glance – be it runners, fencers, cyclists, sailors, canoeists or riders. He supplemented this language of symbols with a colour system which is indelibly associated with the Games: coloured stripes in different widths – in yellow, green, blue and orange, as well as silver and white – appeared on all posters, programmes, admission tickets and even on Waldi the striped dachshund, the first Olympic mascot. Naturally, the comprehensive corporate identity also included all signposts and direction signs on routes to and on the Olympic site – supplemented, incidentally, by Hans Hollein’s media lines in the Olympic village, a communication and guidance system in the form of coloured pipes running above the paths. With remarkable consistency unprecedented in its universality, Otl Aicher’s system ensured that athletes, distinguished guests and spectators were literally always kept in the picture, and were informed, oriented and organised as efficiently as possible. Since then, all aspects of such major events have been thoroughly designed, but only rarely has Aicher’s work been surpassed. It may be that, compared with new current developments, his pictograms may no longer appear very contemporary in stylistic terms; however, the new ones are certainly no easier to read.

Signage systems and architecture

Signage and architecture do not always make the best partners. Signage systems are semantic systems which initially compete with architecture, because architecture itself represents a system of symbols which communicates messages, sometimes abstract, sometimes narrative. This is why distinctive signage that is introduced afterwards or that was not considered in the original design usually ends up conflicting with the architecture.



Red doors, green doors, yellow doors

22 23

The relationship is similar to that between architecture and artworks in and around buildings. Here too, a close collaboration between architect and artist is recommended so that the artwork can find its proper place, and thus both enhance one another instead of clashing. Signage commands attention and under certain circumstances can direct this attention to things and in directions which the architect had not foreseen. On the other hand, signage which fails to force itself conspicuously enough into the field of view is ineffective because it  subjugates itself to the symbolic system of architecture. Guiding elements which go unnoticed do not function.

Colour orientation systems

One vivid, extreme example is the colour orientation system that the painter Max Buchartz devised in 1927 for the Hans-Sachs-Haus in Gelsenkirchen,designed by Alfred Fischer. Coloured stripes (Buchartz described these as “guiding colour surfaces”) led up from the ground floor to the upper floors, whose corridors were painted different colours (“orienting colour surfaces”). This system is regarded as being the first orientation system of this kind, but over the years it had been painted over and forgotten. During the renovation and refitting of the building, conservationists found rudimentary traces of the system, with its powerful primary colours, but too little to warrant a complete reconstruction. For this reason, a colour scheme based on the discoveries was developed for the new building and integrated into two of the newly constructed stairwells. However, early on this orientation system showed a serious disadvantage which was probabyl why it was orginally painted over. In architecture, colour schemes are a key element in influencing the mood and atmosphere of spaces. Corridors and stairwells in which the colour scheme is chosen according to exclusively signage-oriented criteria, i.e. criteria alien

The signage system developed by the graphic designer Otl Aicher for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, was the best-known and most influential system of its time and set standards which still serve us today. The colours yellow, green, blue and orange as well as silver and white appear on all information media associated with the Games such as posters, programmes, admission tickets and even on the mascot, Waldi the dachshund.

to architecture, often develop “uncontrolled” atmospheric moods – often undesirable, and not just for the architect. Max Buchartz’s ideas were taken up a few years later in Vienna, where patients at the General Hospital were greeted with the following: “Are you here for outpatient treatment? Then look out for the blue markings (blue floor, blue doors). Use the moving walkways or the blue lifts. The surgical departments are located in the green wing (green floor, green doors). The specialist departments for internal medicine are located in the red wing (red floor, red doors). Please use the green or red lifts to reach your unit. All medical departments and examination rooms are coloured orange. Yellow doors mark the route to the emergency stairs.” The new Berlin Brandenburg airport shows how a signage system can be incorporated at an early design stage and reconciled with the architecture (see p. 40/41 and 46/47). The meticulously planned positioning of the signs and their integration in the different wall patterns were considered in the design from the outset. The signage is restricted to a low-key red – traditionally the colour associated with Berlin and Brandenburg – which does not otherwise appear in the colour palette of the architecture. In this clearly laid-out airport, which is organised in a user-friendly way, the user does not need to rely exclusively on the signage system, but it is there if needed, unobtrusive, aesthetically balanced and in harmony with the architecture. We live in a time in which, due to globalisation, increasingly mobile people need to orient themselves more often in unfamiliar worlds. Places of transit are growing in scale and in most cases are increasingly confusing, which makes signage more important than ever. But for how much longer? Even today, some people can only find their way using their smartphone. In the future, everyone will carry their individual orientation system with them (or inside them?). It is possible that signage might then decline in importance, but as a real, present and location-based medium for orientation, it will never become superfluous.




Signage: design stauss grillmeier, Munich Architecture: ARGE Werner Wirsing bogevischs buero, Munich

Historical reference Colour system Codification through letters and numbers

24 25

The accomodation developed in the late 1960s by the architect Werner Wirsing for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, afterwards used as student accommodation, were demolished and rebuilt in 2009, as a renovation would have been too expensive. For the student village the designers picked up on the original guidance and orientation system, which had been based on the design guidelines for the 1972 Olympic Games, reconceived it, and translated the historical references in terms of content and design for contemporary purposes;,correcting functional weaknesses. For example, a simplified system of house numbering was introduced and the former block system was replaced with an alphabetical pattern of lanes or alleyways. Orientation is additionally improved through right-angled signage elements running around the corners of the buildings which identify the lanes like road signs. The front panel of the light green signs shows the letter assigned to the lane and also, on the right hand side of the lane, a north-aligned location plan identifying the lane as well as a list of its occupants during the Olympic Games, with the corresponding initial letters. The side panel points into the lane and shows the house numbers on that side of the lane in the order in which a visitor walking along the lane passes them. The concept continues the principle of “information-friendliness” introduced for the Olympic Games in 1972: frequent information, friendly colours and a clear, legible typography are key elements of the signage.

ENT QUARTER AGE The Olympic Village is structured by a network of lanes and alleys. Brilliant green plaques which wrap around the corners of buildings mark the alphabetically ordered lanes.









365 Fahrradabstellplatz


1888,48 Door markings

230 350



Lane name plaque on a protected building

Markings for service area


r40 Lane name plaque






The brilliant colours of the signage system are oriented on the spectrum of colours used for the 1972 Olympic Games and divide the student quarter into different areas.




SENZOKU GAKUEN COLLEGE OF MUSIC KAWASAKI, J Signage: Teradadesign Architects, Tokyo Architecture: Nihon Sekkei, Tokyo

28 29

Floor plan of 2nd floor

Scale 1:600

OKU GAKUEN OF MUSIC Vivid colours Stark contrasts Signage matched to target group

The “Black Hall” building is part of the Senzoku Gakuen College of Music in Kawasaki. The building principally contains recording studios, classrooms and rehearsal rooms for courses in Jazz, Musical Theatre, Rock and Pop. Since, for acoustic reasons, these spaces are all without windows, the architects and designers used the colour scheme of the architectural elements to create a stimulating environment for the music students, intended to encourage creativity. The concept references the aesthetic of comics and manga culture, which with its garish colours and characters also reflects the world of the modern music industry and its artists. Garish colour accents and colour combinations are a key feature of in the design of products and communication aimed at children and young people, especially in Japan. The adaption of this culturally established motif in the interior design and signage of the college of music was both consistent and playful. The lettering and pictograms form stark colour contrasts with the backgrounds to which they are applied. The vivid colour design creates an exciting, intensive atmosphere which encourages emotional expression.

Background and pictograms form exciting complementary colour combinations; intense colours create identity.

Floor plan of 4th floor

Scale 1:600


1 30 31

INDUSTRIESCHULE SPORTS HALL CHEMNITZ, D Signage: Gourdin & Müller, Leipzig/Hamburg

STRIESCHULE Line as a central theme Complementary colours

The conversion of the sports hall at the Industrial School in Chemnitz also provided the opportunity to implement a new typographic concept for signange, including direction signs. Characteristic of the signage system is the graphic use of the typeface. The typographic elements such as letters and numbers are resolved or integrated into a linear structure. In this way they make direct reference to the theme of sport and its dynamic sequences of movement, as well as to the line markings on sports pitches and running tracks. The pictograms used to identify the rooms were also developed on the basis of this central theme and form a visual extension of the typeface, with which it is not only combined but also connected. The simplified linear graphic in which the elements of the guidance system are designed is gently reminiscent of experimental typefaces from the 1920s and 1970s. The dark blue surfaces of the doors interrupt the powerful colouring of the yellow walls and form the background for the room signs and pictograms which are executed in white.

The typographic design as well as the vibrant colour accents of the architecture are reminiscent of Pop Art concepts.





Integrated signage Hubert Nienhoff








Corporate identity – Building identity Torsten Krüger


MUSEION, Bolzano/Bozen, I




ADIDAS LACES, Herzogenaurach, D


2 34 35

Hubert Nienhoff

Integrated signage

Alternatives to the signage jungle

You’ve seen them in newspapers and magazines, the photos of absurd arrangements of signs on traffic islands illustrating the confusion of the “signage jungle”. They are a manifestation of overregulation and a mania for order which provide fuel for the debate around growing mobility and ever-increasing numbers of road users, who travel at different speeds and use different modes of transport. Trial projects which radically dispense with any form of signage represent one possible answer. In these communally used public spaces in which there are no explicit stipulations or rules of behaviour, road users – whether cyclists, pedestrians or drivers – are forced to rely on their own sense of responsibility and consideration. One of these so-called “shared spaces”1 is Exhibition Road in London, originally a busy multilane road running along London’s museum mile, where now road users share a common space. The thoroughfare was cleared of all signs, lane markings and pavements – only a large-format diagonal grid pattern marks the shared space which has been created. The appropriation of the street space is based on the principle of mutual consideration. The idea is to replace the feeling of safety usually created through regulation with the heightened attention which results when confronted with the open, deregulated space.

Holistic design

Such projects are based on the idea of a self-explanatory space. Architects too should always strive to design spaces to be simple enough so that they, in addition to possessing enduring substance, are above all self-explanatory – beyond artistic caprice or considerations of formal fashion. The primary focus is on requirements in terms of construction design and use, based on the principle of “form follows function”, as

well  as a holistic approach to design which is guided by simplicity, unity in diversity, identity with the location and structural order. Ultimately, creating buildings which are self-explanatory and legible is a convincing design philosophy. This means that the users can find their way around the building because the spatial layout follows the internal logic of the design, i.e. it also reflects the processes which take place within the building and its functions. Why, then, are additional orientation systems necessary? At first glance, supplementary signage systems explaining a building, or even a entire building signage system incorporating all possible means of communication, seems to be an admission that either the architecture failed to perform these functions or that the architects failed to achieve their own unspoken objectives. Yes and no: because in architecture the self-explanatory space is an ideal which architects strive to approach in their work. Fundamental characteristics of a building, its function, and what it aspires to be, are inherent in the design. One does not expect to see a single-family home with an “entrance” sign over the front door. However, the challenge of good orientation in buildings is not necessarily a question of scale. Rather, the increased need for order and simplification results from the hectic pace of our modern age. It is the complexity of the processes in our everyday life which has increased with the growth of the cities, increasing mobility, new technologies and increased security requirements in an ever more closely networked world and which creates the need for additional systems providing orientation. In a stadium for example, the question of how exits are marked assumes great importance because in this case, rather than being a simple issue of recognition, complex safety requirements must be considered which will be of vital importance

in  cases of emergency. Also in the context of changes of use  for buildings – which with ongoing structural changes in our economies is increasingly important – signage plays a key role in the success of conversion projects of the most diverse kind.

Space and signs as a creative whole

The real challenge faced by planners involves shaping the interrelationship between space and signs. Particularly in the context of major events, signage represents a kind of connecting element between the architecture and its appropriation by the user. It guarantees that things run smoothly and maps logistical and even commercial aspects within a building. The interlocking of architecture and signage can be illustrated particularly well with reference to stadia as venues for major events involving thousands of people: the pricing system and marketing are made visual in the demarcation of stands and rows of seats. Ultimately, the graphic language of the venue must be reproduced on every ticket sold. Questions relevant in terms of planning include the type and precise placement of

Integration of space and signs: The Green Point Stadium in Cape Town near the Cape of Good Hope, one of the most striking locations on the African continent, communicates messages which go far beyond the signal effects which emanate from the building. Architecture: gmp · Architekten von Gerkan, Marg and Partners, Berlin, in collaboration with Louis Karol Architects, Point Architects, Cape Town

During the course of its renovation and modernisation in 2006, the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, built in 1936, was given a new guidance system. The design is autonomous yet understated, it relates to the existing architecture without adopting its monumental formal language. Renovation and modernisation: gmp · Architekten von Gerkan, Marg and Partners, Berlin; signage: Büro für Gestaltung Wangler & Abele, Munich



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the seat numbering, whether the “1” seat in each row should be positioned on the outside or next to the aisle, or even determining how the markings can be protected against vandalism. In logistical terms, the staging of a football match can no longer be managed today without these additional aids to orientation. Even though very different and contrary approaches exist to integrating orientation systems in spaces – whether in the form of separate elements or as inscribed surfaces of the building components – a holistic planning philosophy always forms the basis for a harmonic integration of the signage in the architecture. If the function and the “genius loci” are seen as the task to be addressed both in the architecture and also in the graphic design, both ideally blend into a natural whole, rather than standing in creative competition with one another. The aim should be for signs to integrate with rather than confront the architecture. Naturally, a sign wants to be seen. However, some architects would prefer them to remain in visible against their spatial structure. This is the paradox inherent in the issue of integrated signage. It is the tightrope walk between unobtrusiveness and self-promotion, between adaptation to the point of mimicry and autonomy which the disciplines of architecture and visual communication have to perform in solidarity. In the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, which was renovated and modernised for the World Cup in 2006, this conflict of goals between understatement and autonomy was already inherent in the brief, namely the conflict between the opposing demands of conservation and careful modernisation on the one hand and the conflict between the modern requirements of a multifunctional venue and of a pure football stadium on the other. The stadium once formed the central component of the historical sports complex built for the 1936 Olympic Games. The new design concept supports the qualities of the

original structure, in that it subjugates itself to it and attempts to engage with the historical architectural fabric with distance, the greatest possible transparency and understatement. All the necessary new constructions were housed underground outside of the stadium, so that the visual appearance was not affected and the impression of the stadium was preserved. The new roof deliberately distances itself from the fixed tectonics of the stadium structure through its understated construction design and the choice of material used for the surfaces. The treatment of the historical building and its importance during the years of National Socialism also played a key role for the visual communication. In the same way that the architectural concept with the new, lightweight membrane roof remains distanced, so to speak, from the original structure, the signage system references the  existing architecture without adopting its monumental formal language. It maintains a distance: letters are not mounted flush, but attached to the natural stonework with a slight intermediate space, and the vertical-format signs along the peripheral walkways echo the rows of columns in their serial character, but form their own spatial level as individual elements. Through the adaption of the colours of the natural stone and the fixtures of the building, the lettering and direction signs have become natural parts of the building. They are illuminated using the existing lighting system. Despite the independence of the elements, architecture and signage system form a unified whole.

Cultural identity and genius loci

In the new stadia built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the interplay of architecture and signage takes a quite different form than seen in the Olympic stadium in Berlin. Instead of maintaining a distance from history and an understated relation-



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ship with the existing architecture, the designs of the three FIFA stadia in Cape Town, Port Elisabeth and Durban were intended to be an expression of cultural identity and, not least, the euphoric enthusiasm of the South Africans for the World Cup. The Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban is a prime example of this: with its distinctive arch, visible from afar, it is conceived as a landmark for the city of Durban. Just as the building itself communicates as a symbol, its signage system engages in a quite concrete visual dialogue with the city. The information, guidance and orientation system is applied directly to the massive walls and has the effect of a cultural embracing of the building, reflecting the South African passion for decoration and painting. In its vibrant colours and direct expression, the design references contemporary art, traditional art and handicrafts as well as the everyday culture of the region, thus acting as a connecting link between the surrounding area, the landscape and the building. Naturally, the direct and seemingly unconventional painting of the walls is also a very economical form of implementing signage, achieving the greatest possible effect with the least possible material expenditure. In addition to fulfilling the functional objective of staging a smoothly run World Cup, the signage also played a big part in strengthening the identity of the place and communicating to the world the host country’s soft skills such as openness, friendliness and joy through media broadcasting. Here, the signage is, in the truest sense of the word, an integral component of the architecture. Cultural identity is expressed not only in the way in which people appropriate spaces, but also in the way which spaces are interpreted and ultimately used. Different cultural backgrounds are manifested, in particular, in the way in which minimised signs, symbols and pictograms are read. For example, quite different rules regarding the language of sym-

Cultural identity and the genius loci were key themes for the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. Itself conceived as a landmark, the stadium’s orientation system reflects the South African passion for decoration as well as traditional art and handicrafts. Architecture: gmp · Architekten von Gerkan, Marg and Partners, Berlin, in collaboration with Ibhola Lethu Consortium, South Africa; signage: Büro für Gestaltung Wangler & Abele, Munich

bols apply in projects located in the Near East, that is to say in traditionally Muslim regions. The use of the pictogram for ladies toilets originally developed by Otl Aicher for the 1972 Olympic Games, the lady in a miniskirt, in Europe a universally recognised symbol, would be unthinkable. In South Africa, the differing connotations of symbols was reflected in the subject of eating. A burger shape and sparkling glass of lemonade were preferred as clear symbols for food and beverages, over the champagne glass and triangular sandwich proposed by the European designers. The intention was to make the stadia in South Africa accessible to a broad segment of the population. For this reason, despite complex labelling of the rows of seating the aim was to make the orientation system as intuitive as possible – also

in view of prevailing levels of illiteracy. In the stadium in Cape Town the coloured circle therefore became the striking symbol for orientation (see p. 42 – 45). It is an additive system which, in contrast to the concept developed for Durban, was applied to the surfaces of the building in the form of individual elements and is clearly recognisable as a modular system. In a similar way to the pieces on a board game, the system functions as a combination of different circles with a few variables such as colours, numbers and arrows.

All in the same boat

The most important prerequisite for successful integration of the signage, with all its elements, into architecture is to bring together all the participating disciplines at an early stage. For example, if the question of the building’s guidance system only arises towards the end of the planning stage, many decisions will already have been made and the identification markings used by different disciplines may collide. The electrician has defined the locations for the fuse boxes, the lighting designer has already decided on the position and nature of the lighting. However, the issue of lighting in particular is also of great importance for the guidance system – one only has to think of the different lighting conditions by day and at night. Forward-looking and long-term planning makes it possible, for example, to avoid unnecessary duplication of lighting systems which are required for the signage. In addition to service engineering installations, safety regulations, including the identification marking of fire extinguishers and escape routes, represent a further component of the broad spectrum of symbols in the building which need to be incorporated in an integrated overall planning process at an early stage. What is the point of having signs in a multi-storey car park which are, in theory, visible from a long way off, if these are obscured by beams, cable runs, ventilation ducts or pendant light fittings? Unfortunately, the degree of overlap between the individual disciplines and the signage is frequently underestimated in practice.

Early planning

In addition to the interlinking of the different disciplines involved in the construction, it is necessary that the planning and conception of the scope and content of signage or of guidance and information systems take place in parallel with the planning of the overall project and not just at a later stage. Building signage systems are often regarded as being included in the architects’ services, on the principle that “we can always put up a couple of signs afterwards”. However, the actual crux of the issue frequently lies in the communication with the client. Even before the planning stage, the architect must explain to them the complex interrelationships involved and convince them that in order to achieve a successful integration of signage and space it is necessary to involve specialist planners at an early stage. A completely new approach was taken in the planning of the Willy Brandt Berlin Brandenburg airport (see p. 46/47). The project was preceded by a study in which the architects developed fundamental design principles for the airport and all associated building measures. Materials, building volumes and colours were defined at an early stage in a kind of manual, so that – despite the large number of persons and even different architects involved in the planning – it was possible to implement a holistic design. This manual already defined the basis of the information system years before completion, for example a standardised system for the “hardware” of the guidance and advertising system, which is based on the grid pattern used for the overall planning of the airport. Along with principal colour, the red associated with Berlin and Brandenburg, these design rules also form the basis for the typography.



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Signage as a bridge between city and building

Motorists: road signs on approach road

Along with hospitals, airports are probably the most complex kind of building project. The basis for orientation within such a large-scale, multi-zoned transport facility is initially determined by the architecture. It is the simplicity of the routes, the logical sequence of spaces and the natural lighting of the interior spaces which form the starting point for an  intuitive navigation of the building. The new airport for Berlin is therefore being given a spacious central entrance hall. Thanks to its scale and transparency, the visitor can “read” the different levels of the airport and its organisational structure at first glance, as if on a projection screen, upon entering the terminal building. The building levels adjacent to the entrance hall are revealed to the visitor in cross section, allowing the space to be taken in in its entirety. Nonetheless, signage plays a very special role in transport facilities and especially in airports. This is because of the complicated processes involved in flight operations, from check-in through baggage handling to boarding. The division into ground-side and air-side as well as customs and safety aspects have an impact on spatial organisation. The signage not only needs to be internationally understandable, irrespective of different cultural connotations and language barriers, but also able to react flexibly to future changes. In a logistically complex and large-scale project like an airport, the challenge is to develop a single system which can be read at different levels of scale. This goes far beyond internal considerations of coordination with electrical systems or compliance with safety regulations, involving urban planning and legal issues, such as the compatibility of the building guidance system and generally valid traffic signs. Also relevant, however, is the question of the style of lettering used by the local authorities and how the two “symbolic languages”

Pedestrians and cyclists: secondary guidance system for Airport City and adjacent site

Architecture module

Passengers: airport guidance system in terminal

Hardware grid

Graphic unit

65.0 cm 32.5 cm 3.25 cm 62.5 cm

325.0 cm

292.5 cm

260.0 cm

227.5 cm

195.0 cm

162.5 cm

125 cm 93.75 cm 62.5 cm Information panel, free-standing

31.25 cm

3.125 cm

125 cm 125 cm Panel, Integrated

The basic design principles for the Berlin Brandenburg (Willy Brandt) airport were already defined at the outset in a kind of manual, including the signage zones for the different user groups. The elements of the guidance system are based on a standardised pattern oriented on the grid pattern used for the overall planning of the airport. Architecture: gmp · Architekten von Gerkan, Marg and Partners, Berlin; JSK International, Frankfurt am Main; signage: Moniteurs Kommunikationsdesign, Berlin

interact aesthetically. The guidance system becomes a mediator between city and building, between exterior and interior spaces, between public and private. For this reason, it was particularly important to provide for and categorise signage zones for different interest groups in the design manual. These include tenant companies’ logos mounted on the building, digital advertising spaces, billboard advertising on the multi-storey car parks, but also free-standing elements like banners and advertising sculptures or hoardings attached to the building, integrated, backlit advertising spaces and, not least, all those elements which guide and regulate the flows of passengers in the interior of the building. The consistency of an orientation system is revealed in particular at the transitions between public and semi-public areas. Ideally, as is the case with Berlin Brandenburg airport, one is not confronted with competing signage systems outside of the building, everything is coordinated. The signage and guidance systems begin at the autobahn and end at the gate.

Readability of the space as a basis for good orientation

Airport City information panel, large

Road sign

Airport City information panel, small

Seating area with information

All dimensions are based on the architectural module. All graphic elements are oriented on a grid pattern with half the height and width of the graphic design unit: height 1.625 cm, width 1.5625 cm.

31.25 cm 250 cm 125 cm Ceiling sign, suspended

93.75 cm Projecting wallmounted sign

Even though we can supposedly find our way around anywhere today, using the digital technology that makes individual orientation via smartphone or navigation system possible, we still have to rely on reduction, simplification and clearly understandable directions, especially in connection with increasingly complex processes and the flood of information to which we are exposed every day. The principle of “less is more” applies more than ever today. With architecture we create the “hardware” of good orientation. Its coherence, clarity and simplicity plays a key part in allowing us to recognise routes. In the best case, it gives people the responsibility for finding their own way around the building, without patronising symbols or dominating formal language, and lets users rely on their own attentiveness. Daylight forms the starting point for intuitive orientation in space. It indicates the time of day and cardinal directions. However, the instruments at the architect’s disposal for creating spaces which are inherently accessible also include other sensory impressions such as haptics, acoustics and the perception of temperature and smell. The readability of space is thus not limited to understandable layouts and sequences of spaces but extends to different levels of perception, including cultural context and the special character of the place. If the architecture fails to achieve intuitively understandable spaces – an outcome of an holistic approach to design – even the best building guidance system cannot make up for this deficiency and seems more like a crutch. However, if the building follows an inner logic, the signage is a self-evident enrichment of the architecture. A prerequisite for this is its early conception and the consultation of all the disciplines involved in the planning. The designer of signage and orientation systems must be familiar with the building and all the processes which are possible within it. The measure of successfully integrated signage is not only that at no point in a building does the user get lost, but equally that an aesthetic interrelationship of space and signs is achieved. The key basis for this is an architecture which strives to achieve the ideal of the self-explanatory space. 1 Topic “Shared Spaces”, Bauwelt 06/2012, p. 14 et seq.


GREEN POINT STADIUM CAPE TOWN, SA Signage: Büro für Gestaltung Wangler & Abele, Munich Architecture: gmp · Architekten von Gerkan, Marg and Partners, Berlin, in collaboration with Louis Karol Architects, Point Architects, Cape Town

STADIUM Universal design The circle as a basic form Colours as communicators of information

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The guidance system is based on simple forms, clear colours and internationally understandable pictograms which guarantee good orientation and are particularly suitable for the barrier-free communication of information.

The new stadium in Cape Town built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa is a perfect example of the integration of space and signs. Situated directly by the Atlantic, the oval-shaped free-standing stadium occupies a striking location near the Cape of Good Hope. The architectural design as well as the conception of the visual communication make direct reference to the place, the country, the city, the neighbourhood. The central element of the orientation system is the circle, the stringent and systematic use of which plays a key part in shaping the appearance of the stadium. All information such as numbers, direction signs, colours and pictograms is applied to circular surfaces which can be freely combined, stacked and aligned vertically or horizontally – a free game with rules. In this way, the information is formally broken down into individual elements and the areas of signage reduced to a minimum. Simple geometrical forms like the circle are particularly suitable for the barrier-free communication of information. The use of colours means that the information is also easy to understand for people who cannot read, which in South Africa is by no means an aspect which can be neglected.


The circle as a carrier of information stands out from the architecture, it is inherently directionless and is self-explanatory.


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ca. 600




BERLIN BRANDENBURG AIRPORT BERLIN, D Signage: Moniteurs Kommunikationsdesign, Berlin Architecture: gmp · Architekten von Gerkan, Marg and Partners, Berlin; JSK International, Frankfurt am Main

BRANDENBU Monochrome signage Design manual

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The new airport for the Berlin-Brandenburg region welcomes passengers via a spacious central entrance hall which is intended to ensure largely self-explanatory and intuitive navigation of the building. The organisational structure of the space and the levels leading beyond it can be read at a glance, as on a projection screen. Right at the beginning of the planning stage a manual with basic design principles, building volumes, materials and colours was compiled which includes all disciplines, thus making a holistic design possible. Even the basic principles of the guidance system are also set forth in this manual. The elements which carry information are either integrated in the construction design, form components of architectural elements – for example, the counter fixtures – or are themselves space-defining; suspended elements were avoided. This close integration of the guidance system with the building ensures a uniform appearance. The principal colour red – the state colour of Berlin and Brandenburg – conveys the identity of the airport. It is reserved solely for flight information and is not used in the architecture, for which reason it can quickly be recognised as an information carrier, even from a considerable distance. Differentiations and nuances are achieved through the linear layout and optimisation of the tonal value of the primary colour, secondary information is set against a dark grey background. A double differentiation of the typeface in font style and size reflects the bilingual nature of the information. The guidance system is likewise continued onto the exterior and also includes a traffic and pedestrian guidance system as well as road signs and car park signage – everything is integrated.


The guidance system echoes creative elements of the architecture, such as the linear, grid-formed structures of the terminal building with its clear geometrical forms.


THE COOPER UNION NEW YORK, USA Signage: Pentagram Design, New York Architecture: Morphosis Architects, Santa Monica

The extension of the typeface around the corner gives the appearance of a barcode and amplifies the visual impact.

UNION Distorted perspective Three-dimensional use of typeface

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In 2009, 150 years after its foundation, the Cooper Union opened its new, sculptural academic building in New York’s East Village, which quickly became another of the city’s landmarks. The concept developed for the signage and graphics is integrated completely into the dynamic formal language of the architecture. The chosen typeface, Foundry Gridnik, resembles the lettering on the facade of the main university building which stands opposite, thus establishing a relationship with the older building. At the same time however, its hard-edged and futuristic character also reflects the form and the materials of the new building. It is used throughout the building for the orientation system and appears on different materials such as stainless steel and etched glass. Above the entrance area of the building, the facade is decorated with visually distorted lettering in which the upper half of the typeface is raised, whereas the lower part is cut out. Viewed from the front, the name of the building can be read correctly. The lobby is formed by a naturally lit atrium which rises nine storeys high. The dominant element in the entrance area is a sculptural staircase on the underside of which over 80 hanging plates are installed which bear the names of the institution’s most important sponsors. For this purpose the typography was applied three-dimensionally, running around the edges on the front, bottom and rear side of the plates. The identification marking of the spaces and offices was applied to stainless-steel corner protectors in a similar way. Here, the typeface is extended in a linear form around the corners, giving the appearance of a barcode, depending on the observer’s angle of view.

The sculptural staircase dominates the foyer and bears the names of the most important sponsors of the school. Other names are engraved in the floor of the roof terrace.



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Torsten Krüger

Corporate identity – Building identity

Brand communication

The term “brand communication” commonly used in marketing describes the sum of all those elements which are key to the perception and development of a brand. The basis for brand management is corporate identity, which bindingly defines the public presence in a design manual containing word marks and figurative marks, logo and typography as well as examples for all applications. The use of the term “corporate” refers to the relationship of a specialised area to a higher-level brand strategy – for example, corporate design, corporate behaviour, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility. The 2D brand strategy is essentially used in print products such as brochures, adverts and posters as well as in corporate correspondence. The design of internet presences, films or interactive applications is also oriented around the corporate identity. The 3D brand strategy describes the implementation of the corporate identity in terms of its spatial perception in architecture and interior design as well as at trade fairs and events. Accordingly, the terms “corporate interior design” and “corporate architecture” describe the application of the corporate identity to the specialist fields of interior design and architecture. The requirements of the corporate identity must also be appropriately taken into consideration in the design of information and orientation systems. However, architecture, interior design and signage are independent specialist fields; the design of which cannot be based solely on the corporate identity of a brand or company. The term “building identity” therefore emphasises the independent identity of buildings and the special framework conditions which are relevant for their creation. It comprises all  the key elements of perception relevant to a building and incorporates the aspects of architecture, interior design and signage.

Innovation and continuity of brands

Message and perception are the key components of brand communication. Anyone concerned with the development and positioning of brands seeks a balance between an innovative updating of  the brand which responds to social, cultural and contextual  changes and the continuation of the established brand presence. Architects and designers also often strive for a brand perception of their projects and products as well as for the perception of their individual personality as an artist. However, to  manage brands strategically over a long period of time means harmonising one’s own creativity with the intentions of the brand. A successful concept requires an intensive creative dialogue between the commissioned agencies, designers and architects, as well as the managers responsible for brand management. A brand which fails to engage with this evolutionary development process very quickly loses its connection with the market and the acceptance of customers. Interestingly, the audience for brand messages is, first of all, those employees of the company who are involved in product development, marketing and sales strategies. They generate emotional resonances which can position companies or products and which can penetrate deep into the market; where they have to prove their strengths and charisma in competition with other brands. The substance, concept, mood and spirit of the brand presence together form a perception profile which is intended to make it easier for the intended target groups to identify with the brand. Naturally, the distancing from other brands and the formulation of an unmistakeable profile create both fans and opponents. Such polarisation supports the brand and makes it possible to identify the unique selling points which make the added value tangible for the users.

Building identity and icons

The application of this thinking towards architecture developed for companies and products follows the dictum that communication and perception are also rerequisites for the success of buildings. In this way, constructing building identity becomes a strategic approach, both in the conception of new buildings and in the renovation of existing ones. Here, two fundamental strategies can be derived from the question of who builds for whom. If a company acts as investor, as a rule the aim is to connect the company’s brand image with its corporate identity. This involves incorporating qualities such as “innovative”, “sound”, “long-established” or “dynamic” in the design process, or even qualities associated with the products. In this case the corporate identity can provide inspiration for the development of the architectural concept.

Top: Used by the Swiss furniture manufacturer to present its furniture to private customers, the VitraHaus in Weil am Rhein evokes associations with the archetype of the house. Use and marketing coalesce in a building form which is simple to read and visible from a distance. Architecture: Herzog & de Meuron Left: The Allianz Arena uses different lighting effects to reflect the brand colours of the football clubs FC Bayern Munich and TSV 1860 Munich. Architecture: Herzog & de Meuron



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In the case of speculative investments in which the future users are not defined in advance, an investor formulates a building identity which approximately reflects the objectives and the corporate identity of the greatest possible number of potential users. The tenant or buyer can then go on to give the building their brand name; it should, however, be possible to replace this without any problem in the event of a change of tenant or sale. Since practically all companies claim to be innovative, sustainable, dynamic and above all, unique, building concepts are often oriented around these qualities. In addition, investors in the global property market are looking for expressive and unusual forms which attract the kind of media attention which increases the chances of successful marketing. Architecture is used by companies, cities and countries as validation of cultural, economic and political achievement and represents the international status of the location and the owner. The dominance of architectural icons in international architecture is an expression of this tendency. However, the architectural and design language also follow conventional inherited values and are influenced by specifics dictated by urban planning considerations, landscape and location. Other factors which play a part in determining the architectural concept include the fact that depreciation periods and life cycles of properties are significantly longer than the lifetime of short-term marketing concepts. Due to the sometimes long realisation period between the initial concept and the handover of the finished building to the users, it is only possible to a limited extent to modify the structure of the building to accommodate changed user and design concepts. Buildings therefore also need to display a sustainable identity when the aesthetic and functional bases for their creation have already evolved further. Well-designed orientation, guidance and information systems

Top: At London Heathrow Airport, the routes to connecting flights are indicated by means of a separate signage system with the lettering “Flight Connections” displayed in the signal colour lilac. Right: The formal language of Apple’s new corporate headquarters in Cupertino, California echoes elements from the company’s product design. Architects: Foster + Partners

are, at the structural level, a component with the aid of which the building can be communicated quickly and precisely to users. They follow the periodic restructuring of the organisation as well as the philosophy of a company and reflect its corporate culture. The more complex the building and its functions, the more simple and unambiguous the design of a good orientation system should be.

From information systems to “brand worlds”

The transitions between architecture, interior design and signage are fluid. Trendsetters in the design of information and orientation systems are often smaller, individual projects or projects in the context of art. For example, the architectural concept can be extended

to the communication design in posters and flyers, on the internet and in the orientation system. This is clearly shown, for instance, by the Museion in Bolzano/Bozen, the architectural language of which has had a key influence on the development of the corporate identity of this museum of modern art (see p. 56 / 57). The way typography and visual language are used in the Family Box is also unconventional, referring to the context of the building as a social meeting place for families (see p. 88–91). The layering of the individual disciplines culminates in the brand showcasing seen in headquarters buildings and brand worlds which transcend the boundaries between the specialist fields in the form of a communications strategy, embracing the total brand experience. This strategic objective is clearly evident in projects such as the adidas Laces building in Herzogenaurach (see p. 62–65), the Rolex Learning Centre at the EPFL in Lausanne by SANAA or the new Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California, designed by Foster + Partners and known as the “spaceship”, which has already attracted a  lot of media attention prior to its opening. However, the quality and complexity shown in these examples can only be achieved through intensive cooperation between all participants. The budgets for such strategic corporate projects amount to many times the sums available for orientation systems in state schools, hospitals, universities or public authorities. Fundamental to a successful brand strategy is the awareness that the value of brands, products and companies depends to a crucial extent on public perception. The senior management of successful companies are therefore directly involved in the decision-making processes relating to the development of corporate and building identity and from the outset encourage an interdisciplinary discourse between architecture, design and signage. Due to the division of individual administrative bodies and their respective responsibilities, this strategic approach is difficult to implement in the field of public investments. However, despite the focus on the size necessary in order for the building to function effectively, public projects are increasingly producing innovative and attractive concepts which also symbolise the change towards an open, modern and citizen-friendly service. At the same time, universities, libraries, hospitals and administrative bodies are to a certain extent in competition with one another, and in order to secure their future viability have to compete with private companies and institutions for the most highly qualified employees. This applies in particular in the sphere of education. Universities and the associated public and private institutes and institutions have recognised that the visual appearance of universities and research and development laboratories have a great influence on the working atmosphere and the reputation of the institution. Any researcher would gladly work in a significant field,in a modern and stimulating setting. The challenge is, inter alia, to achieve a uniform level of communication in the architecturally diverse buildings. The development processes associated with a necessary new building measure, the re-evaluation of structures and working procedures, are often the first stages in an intensive re-examination of the institution and the brand. The realisation of a new building therefore also offers the opportunity to review and further develop the corporate identity, which can in turn influence the design of the information and orientation system (see Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research, p. 132 /133). Due to their great number of specialist departments and rooms, university hospitals are among the most challenging design briefs in terms of signage. All functions have to be translated into a clear guidance and orientation system which is easy for users and visitors to understand. Clearly structured



Corporate identity – Building identity

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hierarchical levels, unambiguous typography and pictograms as well as colour coding facilitate orientation (see University Hospital Greifswald, p. 102 – 105). Building projects such as airports, railway stations and sports facilities also impose strict requirements in terms of signage. For example, anyone landing or changing planes at London Heathrow airport quickly appreciates the importance of an information and orientation system. The structural development of Europe’s largest airport has led to innumerable expansions; as a result there is an equal profusion of communication and advertising elements which are intended to inform the traveller and guide them to their destination and indicate toilets or escape routes. In addition to the financial costs of the signage, the question also arises as to how often existing orientation systems can be updated and adapted to a structural extension, a new requirement or a new law introduced by the regulating authorities. As London Heathrow proves, this might be very often. Here, different orientation systems are superimposed, each forming its own layer with its own colour and typography system. For example, the lilaccoloured “Flight Connections” signage directs the passenger reliably to the right terminal. For the staging of the Olympic Games in London 2012, a holistic corporate design with a detailed and elaborately conceived information and orientation design was developed which welcomes visitors to the city as they arrive at the airport, accompanies them through the city, is present in all public transport systems and guides the visitor reliably through the Olympic Park. This example shows the importance of signage to such major social and sporting events. In this case it became the universal ambassador of the Olympic idea, of the host country and London itself.

During the Olympic Games, additional information and direction elements were integrated into the existing system used at London Heathrow Airport.

Cultural traditions

Cultural traditions have a major influence on the development of a brand identity, since they shape universally understandable patterns associated with a country, a region or a religion. For example, this is clearly illustrated by Japanese projects which apply the principle, borrowed from their culture, of minimising elements and colours, such as restricting a design to a few materials and their natural colour effect (see 9h Capsule Hotel, p. 60/61; Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum, p. 118/119). The deliberate minimising of the colour palette, elements and themes, as well as the integration of all the different elements into a contemplative overall concept expresses the ideal of perfection. Many information and orientation systems are designed according to this principle, which can be often encountered in everyday life in Japan.

With its forms, colours and pictograms, the signage for the 2012 Olympic Games in London positions the Olympic brand in the urban landscape and formed a key component in the positive public perception of the sporting event. Conception: Surface Architects


In addition to a precise knowledge of the architectural concept of the building in question, sucessfully addressing design briefs in the field of information and guidance systems also requires a good understanding of a company’s goals, as well as its products. The basis of effective orientation is always the precise analysis of the often complex functional processes and information hierarchies involved. Specialised agencies and designers devote their extensive specialised knowledge and considerable creativity to the planning and realisation of such systems. In order for the result to be successful in the case of ambitious projects, an open working atmosphere between structural and interior architects, designers and graphic designers, not to mention programmers and film agencies is essential if their diverse creative visions are to be brought together to form a cohesive whole. In this way, corporate and building identity enter into a partnership which makes the product and the brand stand out from the competition.


MUSEION BOLZANO/BOZEN, ITALY Signage: Tomato, London Architecture: KSV Krüger Schuberth Vandreike, Berlin

Art object and brand staging Flexible magnet system

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Irregular “graphic forms” derived from the facades are a key element in the corporate identity of the museum. The Lubalin font is used for the Museion’s public communications, with Futura used for all forms of internal communication.

The Museion – the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Bolzano/Bozen – is a symbol of South Tyrol’s emergence into modernity. The building has two large glazed areas which open up towards the old town and to the river Talfer, with the modern city centre situated on the opposite bank. A twin-spanned pedestrian and cycle bridge which is part of the museum design connects the two parts of the city. Starting out from the architectural concept, a corporate identity was developed for the museum comprising the logo and name as well as analogue and digital media. The logo is derived, through abstraction, from the  design of the entrance facade. The name “Museion” underlines the conceptual character of the building. A graphics concept was developed for posters, adverts and the website in which, through different angles of  view and superimpositions, the geometry of the building and its glass  facades generate an infinite number of visual icons, referred to as “graphic forms”. The orientation and guidance system builds on the corporate identity of  the museum and implements a clear yet experimental concept. The Museion does not house a permanent collection; each exhibition is developed individually by a curator using items from the collection and loaned artworks. A magnetic system was therefore developed for the information provided on the different floors which allows wooden elements into which the necessary information is carved to be fixed to the wall. In this way, the destinations can be named differently depending on the exhibition concept. Fixed functions such as cafeteria and library are also identified using this system. The inscriptions are provided in German, Italian and English; internationally unambiguous terms are displayed in only one language.


The information system for the floor levels is based on a magnetic system in which wooden elements are integrated as information carriers.


9H CAPSULE HOTEL KYOTO, J Signage: Hiromura Design Office, Tokyo Architecture: Sigma Architectural Design, Kyoto


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Each guest receives slippers decorated with the logo, sleepwear as well as sanitary articles branded by the hotel.

9H CAPSULE Minimalistic Maximum colour contrast Pictograms as guiding elements

The 9h Nine Hours is a capsule hotel and can be seen as a place of transit or a temporary abode in the dense urban space. The concept is based on a nine-hour stay by the guests consisting of the sequence 1 + 7 + 1, that is to say one hour to shower in, seven hours of sleep and one hour to get dressed. The graphic designer, interior designer and product designer developed the project on an interdisciplinary basis from the outset, consistent with the idea of seamless transition on which the design is based. Minimal, well conceived and integrated, the signage reflects the functional processes in the hotel. The colour scheme is based on the step-by-step transition from white in the entrance area via the grey of the washrooms to black in the sleeping areas. In this way, the space is zoned into in public and private areas. Pictograms on the walls and floor guide the visitors step by step through the process of their stay. Each function becomes a symbol, the lining up of  the individual symbols creates a graphic system of user instructions which functions without any words whatsoever and which anyone can understand. The designers specified the Zougan technique to make the pictograms, a traditional Japanese art of inlaying. The concept of flowing transition is thus also reflected in the materiality: architecture and signage combine virtually seamlessly.

Simple, clear pictograms on the walls and floor show the way through the building and at the same time function as a kind of user guide.


ADIDAS LACES HERZOGENAURACH, D Signage: büro uebele visuelle kommunikation, Stuttgart Architecture: kadawittfeldarchitektur, Aachen

Integration of space and signs Key theme: movement Three-dimensional elements

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The expansion of the adidas campus with the new “Laces” research and development centre is a model of objectified and visible brand management and exemplifies the projection of corporate goals onto architecture. Here, the boundaries between architecture, design, communication and corporate identity are dissolved. The building forms a spatial loop in which freely suspended walkways span an atrium and “lace up” the structure of the building like the laces of a training shoe. They join up the individual departments of the building complex, ensuring short routes. The orientation system enhances this concept by providing information on the location of the different parts of the building at the nodal points. The names of the conference zones can be read on the glazed balustrades: as one looks through the hall these generate a vibrant, yet low-key image and show visitors the way. The typography has an airy and shimmering effect as it runs over walls and balustrades, changing its form as it does so. The contour lines of the lettering and arrows are offset and repeated rhythmically: this creates an impression of movement, the key theme of the graphic language. Words identify locations, become colour surfaces, reliefs and sculptures with space-defining function, like for example the information desks or the room division in the cafeteria. On the ground floor and in the courtyard, outsized capital letters indicate the entrances to the individual departments as confirmation of destination. They are integrated in the walls which are made of thin steel pipes and can be seen, as orientation aids, from any point in the hall. The lounges on the upper floors, which serve as conference rooms, have precisely moulded walls decorated with reliefs of the logos of famous adidas products. These give the spaces not only their names, but also an unmistakeable identity.

ADIDAS LACES On the glass balustrades of the walkways which run through the interior of the building, the letters appear to be punched out of a thin, transparent membrane. The outlines are traced in highly reflective foil, creating a shimmering image.

In some locations letters are compressed into abstract surfaces or relief-like wall elements, and are also used to form room partitions and the information desk.



Integration of signs and space Ruedi Baur








Universal design Beate Kling








Analysis and systematic specification of information requirements Beate Kling








Orientation design Torsten Krüger








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Ruedi Baur

Integration of signs and space

View from the terrace of a café in the centre of Vienna

In fact, the particular location in which we find ourselves is not really critical, because the phenomenon in question can be encountered wherever our modern age is confronted with relics of the past. So this is just an example. Now let’s focus our attention on the visual symbols of the present. The kind of heterogeneity which we are talking about can be seen more frequently in Vienna than in other cities. If we deliberately look out for examples of intrusive signage, as if “spotting the differences” in a puzzle picture, they catch the eye immediately. Nonetheless, we would simply not have registered them had we not concentrated on doing so. We are too used to living our lives in an environment which is, happily, imperfect. However, let’s leave aside for the moment all those standard signs which can be ordered anywhere in the world, from a catalogue or via the internet, and which seem to display utter contempt for the context in which they are planted. Let’s also ignore the signs used by big retail chains which are the same in every city – with their corporate logos, the world’s leading brands apply prefabricated concepts to a reality which, in its complexity, is in fact quite unpredictable. Let us therefore concentrate on those elements which were conceived for a quite specific context in the here and now. I accuse the designers of these visual signs of simply creating the corresponding artwork on their computer screen using graphics programs rather than looking at the situation on site, and thus transferring their creations to a reality which they do not really take into consideration. At best, they may go on to adapt the dimensions of the signs, to one degree or another. And here too, as an observer of urban nuances I have to say that I often encounter the opposite. These adjustments are more in the nature of approximations, they rarely relate to the graphic

aspects. They appear to be independent of the context, heterogeneous, unintegrated, that is to say purely functional. All this is completely pointless if the context is not observed, and in the end the results appear trivial and uninspired, in fact superfluous. These observations remind me of a film about Indian sign-writers who, despite their extraordinary skill, were forced to work with the computer in order to remain credible. These “specialists” thus ended up creating visual signs of incredible mediocrity. One may develop a message which relates to the surrounding location, designed true to scale for  the specific situation, while the other sits in front of a screen, a surface, which is then transferred to the location – a  cultural catastrophe, brought about by the industry for printed products; a question of contextualisation, which finds itself in crisis here. By way of contrast, the fantastic cinema posters of the 1950s and 60s from California or Las Vegas show (is this proof really necessary?) that no fundamental dichotomy exists between the modern and graphic symbols. Why, then, do we see so

The winning competition entry for the Europaallee in the city centre of Zurich was developed jointly with the landscape architect. In the end, the graphic design only played a subordinate role in the design and was expressly kept minimalistic, because in the somewhat purist Zurich any prominent signage or image is viewed critically. The rows of trees assist orientation and deliberately conceal the signs. They also have a calming effect on the nearby railway station quarter. Urban development master plan: KCAP Architects and Planners, Kees Christiaanse; landscape architecture: Rotzler Krebs Partner; graphic design: Intégral Ruedi Baur, Zurich, Ruedi Baur, Axel Steinberger, Jana Strozinsky; lighting design: Rolf Derrer

much mediocrity? What has changed? Why are visual signs regarded as environmental pollution? Ultimately, it is clear that a dreadful mess has been created. Due to a completely justified rejection of a flood of repeated and decontextualised symbols, something is being forbidden which makes it possible for people to recognise special meanings and orient and inform themselves. The passing of laws to this effect prevents one aspect having a profound effect on the other. Out of fear of aggressive advertising by major brands, an important dimension of the dynamics of city centres is increasingly vanishing. Instead of discussing the quality of the visual signs – as was the case in the past – nowadays the debate revolves around the question of whether or not these signs should be allowed. Now that we have established that a crisis has been reached, let us now analyse the complex relationships between architecture and graphic design by turning our attention now from our historical city centres to take a look at the developing city.



Integration of signs and space

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At a table in the TGV from Strasbourg to Paris

Different context, different project: we have come away from a meeting to discuss the signage for a large media library somewhat baffled. The building was virtually finished, the fixtures and fittings ordered, the furnishings chosen. Moreover, the entire facility was dominated by a striking colour design. During the meeting, the client had expressed his fear that the different departments of the media library did not differ sufficiently from one another as well as his concerns regarding the whole atmosphere of the building. How can a connection be created between the building, its function and its contents? Although both of the main players regarded a signage system as being necessary, one could discern a certain contradiction between their respective wishes. Time was short – the media library was scheduled to open in six months time – so swift action was necessary. Naturally, the signage must always be based on respect for the architectural project. However, the word respect is not to be understood as being synonymous with reticence. In such a situation, when one doesn’t yet really know the architects, everything is at stake. I remember that the idea of an additional typographic level came up at this meeting. It resulted from a series of insoluble requirements and ultimately from the reading of the architecture. The use of colour was intended literally to connect the old parts of the building with the new, as well as integrating the fixtures and fittings. The proposal was developed further over the following weeks.

I personally was rather worried when we first presented our ideas, fearing the reaction of the architects, who might see the coherence of their almost completed project as being compromised. In contrast, the clients, I imagined, would probably be quite happy with our answer, as far as the allocation of uses went. I would have liked to have discussed this with the architects at an earlier stage in the project. However, even before the end of the presentation it was clear to me that we had pulled it off. The architects were delighted, because they had very quickly grasped the potential which our proposal offered. It was immediately arranged that it should be possible for the signage to be embedded in the screed, which at the time was just being poured. From this moment on, a fruitful collaboration continued until the completion of the project. A typographic level was superimposed on the facades and

interiors consisting of quotations from works held in the library, which in turn contain terms important in terms of signage. The point here is not to present a project but to show how the graphic expression can be integrated with an architectural project at a late stage. If one of the two already exists, the interaction with the other can only develop unilaterally. The precision with which one discipline is adapted to the other is all the more important in this case. Incidentally, consideration of the context affects not only the architect, but also the graphic designer who, through their intervention, frequently builds a bridge between container and content. They cannot be content with reinforcing the spatial solution and the materials, the dimensions, the forms, the dominant colours, they must also take into account the way the site is going to be used. And this in turn involves a bringing-together of the disciplines.

Around a conference table at a Paris architectural practice

Competition for the renovation of the AP2, an old shipyard fabrication hall in the French city of Dunkirk known as the “Cathedral”. Instead of squeezing the planned allocation of space for the FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais, a collection of contemporary art, into the existing building and thus destroying the spatial effect of the hall, the architects decided during the course of the competition to build a second hall with the same dimensions and to preserve the “Cathedral” in its present condition. The graphic design was intended to make the layout of the building legible through the transparent facade; after winning the competition this intention was taken up by the institution’s in-house graphic designers. It was crucial that the architects were able to implement their planned concept. Architecture: Lacaton & Vassal; graphic design competition: Intégral Ruedi Baur, Paris, Ruedi Baur, Olivier Duzelier, Sébastien Thiery; client: Communauté Urbaine de Dunkerque, FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais

Yet another project. Here too the location is largely immaterial. Rather, it serves to illustrate the kind of interdisciplinary exchange which is typical in competitions or in the initial phases of architectural projects. Various well-known figures sit around the rather drab conference table. The architects have invited a landscape designer and myself as lighting designer. It looks set to be a prolonged and very intensive working meeting. To begin with, we are presented with a summary of the requirements of the competition. The architects outline their impressions and produce sketches showing their initial ideas. The issues involved and  the potential of the situation gradually become clear. Although the architects are ahead of the other participants in their knowledge, they still remain very attentive, even hesitant; they are prepared to develop their own proposal with the aid of the ideas which are maturing during the course of the discussion. However, their presentation sets the tone. Anyone is free to develop their own concept of the project on the basis of these ideas. The original designs are ultimately strengthened through the attempts to improve them or question them constructively. Finally, then, the time comes to respond to the specific requirements of the project, with the risk that the nature of the dialogue might change. Each consultant will address the brief in their own way on the basis of their specialist knowledge. They contribute their own point of view without losing sight of the overall brief and thus exceeding the boundaries of their discipline. The ideas bubble forth. Some succeed in establishing themselves. In this way, a synergy gradually develops around a proposal. The proposals align with one another, a consensus appears to have been reached. At this point, thinking within the bounds of one’s own discipline would be wholly inappropriate. The prime objective is to approach the brief and the overall interests of the project appropriately. The role of the architects here is one of synthesis. Each participant in the overall process must examine the correctness of the design in terms of their own sphere of competence, with the architect retaining their central role irrespective of the visibility of the original design. In the present case it was decided to opt for a facade design in the form of a vertical garden. The vegetation thus became one of the most important forms of expression in the project. Lighting and graphic design are subordinate to this, and in fact seek to enhance this aspect. This apparently simple solution creates a mood of elation around the conference table. However, this appearance can be misleading. Even though it is assumed at this meeting that the concept will be created on an interdisciplinary basis and the project developed jointly, continued progress depends on a structured exchange between the individual disciplines



Integration of signs and space

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in which each specialist plays a role. If the original team is supplemented by new players in order to fulfil the requirements of the design, others must accept their reduced role, possibly even give up their area of responsibility within the project. The consultants who remain involved could make use of the synergy of the project to jointly negotiate their particular proposal. This would facilitate mutual integration. However, apart from merging the individual projects into a joint project, the biggest advantage of this method, which is based from the outset on an interdisciplinary exchange, is that it represents a de-hierarchisation of the forms of expression. The joint development of the vertical garden from the beginning led to a different form than if this had been left to the architects alone. By establishing itself as the central element, the garden narrows the architectural conception in a positive way. The signage, the fixtures and fittings and the lighting also have to accommodate it. Sometimes a decision makes it necessary for individual disciplines to take a back seat, because in the interest of the project unnecessary overstatement is inappropriate.

In the competition for the design of the French pavilion at Expo 2010 in Shanghai, the scenography was developed by an interdisciplinary team. The content and form of the architecture and exhibition were developed in parallel, with the roles being allocated according to the needs of the competition. Architecture: Jacques Ferrier Architecture; landscape architecture: Agence Ter; graphic design: Laboratoire IRB, Ruedi Baur, Denis Coueignoux, David Thoumazeau, Marion Nielsen, Sébastien Thiery

Signage: Intégral Ruedi Baur, Zurich Architecture: Allmann Sattler Wappner Architekten, Munich


Tow mai ards t n st he atio n

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The mall-like underpass on the Karlsplatz known as the Stachus is one of the busiest interfaces in Munich’s public transport network, providing access to the U-Bahn, S-Bahn and tram. It also contains busy shopping and gastronomic zones. The object of the reconception of the concourse was to redesign the very confused circulation level on the lower ground floor, dating from the 1970s, to create a contemporary, attractive public urban space offering functional added value and a quality user experience. The form of the encircling Stachus rondel in the square above was referenced in the underground concourse and forms its key creative principle. These references between above and below ground make it easier for visitors to orient themselves within the underground “roundabout”. The circular central structure is an identity-defining element at which all important routes converge. The geometrical form of the circle is also the determining design feature of  the multifunctional, reflective ceiling which, together with the light terrazzo floor, creates a space providing the maximum sense of daylight. The metal ceiling rings of different diameters carry the signage and are integrated into the design of the ceiling on the first lower ground level. Guiding elements such as texts, arrows and pictograms are applied to the outside and inside of the ceiling rings in opaque film lettering. The application of the guidance elements to the ceiling as a free spatial area means that they remain readable without obstruction, thus providing the user with orientation, even at busy times of day. They are guided in a simple way through clear visual relationships.

Towards the main station

In the same way that the public urban space is continued underground, the underground space “surfaces” through the signage and design of the entrances and exits.

Circular form as guiding element Ceiling as information carrier

Towards the Sendlinger Tor Karl s (Sta platz chu s)

Towa Marie rds npla tz



To Al war tst ds ad th tri e ng


Pos. 2

Pos. 3

Pos. 4

Visible surface 400 mm

Visible surface 400 mm

Pos. 1

Pos. 3

Pos. 2

Pos. 4 Pos. 1

The ceiling rings are painted brown on the outside and white on the inside, with directional information provided on each side – directions to public transport on the outside, directions to the exits on the inside.

Floor plan of 1st lower ground level

Floor plan of 2nd lower ground level

Scale 1:3000

Scale 1:3000

In order to facilitate orientation, the stairways are visible from every point. The signage elements are located on the wall surfaces at the foot of the escalators or on the front surfaces of the escalators.


MÉDIATHÈQUE ANDRÉ MALRAUX STRASBOURG, F Signage: Intégral Ruedi Baur, Paris Architecture: Jean Marc Ibos, Myrto Vitart, Paris

ANDRÉ MAL Dominance of colour Different typographies

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When it was converted into a media library, the external form of the former grain silo in the inland port in Strasbourg was retained, glass facades added and the warehouse building opened up to create a lofty entrance hall. The dominance of the reinforced-concrete and brick architecture contrasts with the expressive red-coloured band which was also designed by the architects. In the interior, this band runs over walls, ceilings and floors, pillars, furnishings and service engineering fixtures, alleviating the massive effect of the structural design. It ignores structural demarcations and coats the spaces like a second skin, thus creating varied room scenarios. For the orientation system, which was only added at a very late stage in the design process, words were chosen instead of symbols: these overlay the red bands, forming their own graphic level. They stand as a metaphor for the documents archived in the media library and, beyond their content and visual effect, serve as a guidance system. All the terms necessary for the signage are embedded in quoted passages of text taken from the library’s collection of books, with the relevant word being highlighted in colour. Seven different typographic styles are used to emphasise the words highlighted in this way, referencing the different genres represented in the media library, such as comics, literature or science. The sentence elements grouped around the key term are given a visual strikethrough effect, creating an alienated, less prominent secondary typeface.

The guiding terms are highlighted from quoted passages of text and are differentiated through colour highlighting and seven different typographic styles. A line running through the middle of the typeface distorts the accompanying text.

´ ` MEDIATHEQUE RAUX The red band runs through the entire structure of the building, including all components as well as fixtures and fittings and ignores demarcations. This creates varied spatial scenarios.

Floor plan of ground floor Scale 1:1000 In the entrance area, the red band designed by the architects uses a visual stretching effect to draw visitors into the building; inside, its branchings fluidly connect the different spatial zones. The signage superimposes its own creative level on the vibrant colour scheme.


HOLON DESIGN MUSEUM HOLON, IL Signage: Adi Stern Design, Jerusalem Architecture: Ron Arad Architects, London

DESIGN Fluid transition from 2D to 3D Play with light and shade Multilingualism

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Signage and architecture enter into an unusual symbiosis in the Holon Design Museum. The iconography of the flowing and moving bands of weatherproof steel which dominate the external form of the museum is reiterated in the formal language of the signage, which is not, however, intended to compete with the dynamic architecture of the building. The guidance and orientation system transforms two-dimensional arrows into three-dimensional elements of different lengths emerging progressively from the wall surface so that – as white forms against a white background – they primarily stand out through their shadows. In doing so they pick up on the flow and movement of the steel band and, together with the grey-toned lettering and pictograms, generate a subtle texture which nonetheless lends the signage a presence of its own. All information – where not presented as universally understandable pictograms – is communicated in the three main languages used in Israel: Hebrew, English and Arabic, which at the same time involves the use of three different kinds of script. In order to integrate these in a nonhierarchical system, a new Hebrew font was developed which produces a harmonic overall effect with the Arabic and Latin characters.

Shades of white and grey underline the subtle character of the orientation system.


Light and shadows are key design elements of the signage.


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Beate Kling

Universal design

What is universal design?

Universal design is an international design concept which demands that all spaces and products should be usable under all circumstances by all people, irrespective of age, ability and situation. “Universal design means neither standardisation nor cultural uniformity. Rather, the concept of universal design is based on a social, i.e. people-oriented, approach to design, the aim of which is to make the entire environment which is designed by people for people accessible and usable for as many people as possible. Irrespective of their individual abilities, their age and gender or their cultural background, it should be made possible for all people to participate equally in society. Stigmatisation through a design which excludes people from the availment and use of certain services, spaces and products should be avoided from the outset.”1 Universal design, as a concept and term, was formulated in the 1980s by the Center of Universal Design at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. The key figure and founder is the  American designer and architect Ronald L. Mace. As a general concept and sustainable approach, universal design combines a series of conceptual ideas. Since it is a global concept, the aims differ according to the cultural background of the different countries. Terms such as “accessible design”, “freedom from barriers” and “design for all” express different embodiments of the approach. Universal design, with its alignment towards market orientation and individual rights, is seen as reflecting the American perspective, whereas the expression “design for all”, which stands for integration and participation in society with integrative group thinking can be seen as a more European approach. These terms represent the poles which characterise the different cultures and their respective interests. The principles of universal design were defined in 1997 by the Universal Design Institute and sum-

marised in the following keywords: “1. Equitable use, 2. Flexibility in use, 3. Simple and intuitive use, 4. Perceptible information, 5. Tolerance for error, 6. Low physical effort, 7. Size and space for approach and use”. 2 Detailed guidelines explain these principles more precisely and highlight important aspects which a design should fulfil according to this approach.3

Universal thinking – a process

The fundamental approach of universal design requires a mindset which aims at integrated, comprehensive solutions. These should, as far as possible, enable as many users as possible to cope with and understand their environment – both as an end product and in conjunction with the user’s surroundings and different products, forms of communication, information technologies and services. This conceptual approach is highly complex and demands a comprehensive, multilayered, in fact universal way of thinking. Universal design should be understood as a process which, in its implementation, involves approaching the optimum. It is therefore necessary to consider at the beginning of the project which design goals are being pursued and should be given priority, and which should be treated as being of more secondary importance. This objective, and what constitutes its successful achievement, have already been decided at the outset. By today's standards, universal design must be the implicit objective of any project and thus has implications for the entire planning and design process. It should promote individual autonomy, support independence and thus automatically integrate all users.

Signage in the context of universal design

Top: Along the paths of the Eifel National Park, information is provided in raised capital letters, in Braille or in acoustic form. Above: Sound Space signs visually indicate available acoustic signals. Concept: Davide Tidoni, graphic design: Left and below: The media steles in the Bode Museum and in the New Museum in Berlin provide information according to the principles of universal design. The height-adjustable monitors can be used from both a standing and seated position. Concept: polyform – planen und gestalten


170 Height adjustment Eye level, standing 1500

Eye level, seated






Wheelchair clearance


The principles of universal design formulated by Ronald L. Mace positively imply the right to and necessity of integrated signage which is designed to facilitate as far as possible the autonomous, simple use of spaces. Although the importance of universal design has been recognised, its level of implementation is rather limited in relation to the entire scope of creative processes. However, the objectives and stipulations with regard to the design of barrier-free spaces are formulated in very concrete terms. Ease of access for all users and, in the wider context, freedom from barriers are important considerations which, due to the particular planning requirements relating to these, have a great influence on the design of spaces and signs as well as their effect. The implementation of these aspects in the built environment has been enforced for some years. Freedom from barriers, as a performance criterion, is a fixed component of standards and public law regulations which, reflecting public attitudes, is continually being adjusted to social conditions.

300–500 Viewing and operating distance

Signage is linked directly with a building in terms of both design and building law and is necessarily subject to its choreography. DIN 18 040-1 “Barrier-free Building – Basis for Planning – Part 1: Publicly Accessible Buildings”, updated in October 2010, includes for the first time, in the section “Warning / Orientation / Information / Guidance” remarks on sensory requirements as well as stipulations regarding visual, auditory and tactile conditions which make direct reference to the concept of universal design. For the first time, in what had hitherto been virtually a pure construction standard, aspects of construction planning are interwoven with specific requirements concerning signage. Universal design means addressing the needs of all users. In addition to persons with impaired vision and hearing, as well as motor disabilities which require the use of mobility aids or wheelchairs, these also include, for example, persons who are larger or smaller



Universal design


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7 6

Your Position

2 Big Festival Hall

5 IT Service Center

Guide Terminal

3 Small Festival Hall

6 Copy Shop

4 IT Powerstore

7 Book Store

1 Helpdesk, Pickup, Return

The analogue information carriers of the guidance system on the campus of the Vienna University of Economics and Business integrate features designed for the visually impaired according to the principles of universal design: tactile lettering (prismatic and Braille), pictograms and network plans with guidance lines are supplemented through audio outputs of interactive media such as digital door displays. Concept: bauer – konzept & gestaltung

In the Università metro station in Naples, floor indicators for the visually impaired were integrated in the design concept. Design: Karim Rashid

than average, persons with cognitive deficiencies, plus older people, children and those encumbered with pushchairs or luggage.

Tolerant and intelligent design

No separate guidelines or laws governing universal design have been introduced as yet. However, the implementation of individual aspects is covered by various national and international standards and norms. The response to the multilayered nature of individual disabilities or limitations and its concrete implementation also always depend on which individual aspects or contexts need to be taken into consideration, for example whether only visual elements are going to be used, or also tactile and auditory elements, and whether these are available or actually feasible. For example, the requirements of visually impaired people can be accommodated by means of reflective guidance strips on the floor, large typefaces and clear colour contrasts. Ergonomic flexibility makes it possible for physically disabled persons to use communication systems such as touchscreens, help buttons or audio access systems through having adjustable height levels. However, the process of weighing up the alternatives should always be aimed at allowing the greatest possible diversity of use according to the principles of universal design.

The general statutory requirements leave sufficient scope for the requirements of universal design to be fulfilled with


respect to signage; nonetheless, to date hardly any orientation system has truly implemented these. This represents one major challenge which also reflects our current social situation, because the inclusion of all interest groups also generates conflicts. Both the coexistence of people with different needs and the processing of information require a high degree of tolerance and perspective, because we all initially focus our perception around our own needs. What assists the visually impaired through the use of intensive colours or outsize letters may be an irritation to those with good eyesight. The solution is always a compromise which must be acceptable to all. On the campus of the Vienna University of Economics and Business, which will be opened in 2014, the signage is being planned consistently according to the principles of universal design. In addition to functional requirements such as the testing of the colours for persons with different types of colour blindness or persons with poor eyesight, particular attention was paid to the needs of blind people. Tactile lettering, specially-developed pictograms and network plans with guidance lines on analogue information carriers are supplemented by interactive terminals and digital door signs with audio output. The University’s website takes into account the fact that blind persons generally inform themselves about their destination at home or on the way there in order to be able to find their way around more quickly on site at the campus. A good and universally understandable orientation system thus already begins well before the signage on site.4 Universal design is one of the most complex and exciting challenges for all those who are involved in this area of design and has enormous potential for the future. We are still a long way from the automatic integration of every aspect of planning and design. Only gradually is it becoming accepted that interdisciplinary collaboration is essential. Signage represents a modular component in this context. The individual working methods and design aspects are conceptual tasks and only in their totality ensure the complete success of a concept. Consistent universal thinking throughout the entire development process forms the basis for universal design, both as an aspiration and as a process. 1, accessed on 19 June 2012 2, accessed on 19 June 2012 3, accessed on 19 June 2012 4 Project description for campus of the Vienna University of Economics and Business and contextualisation: Erwin Bauer, Bauer – konzept & gestaltung, Vienna

The guidance system for the Storehagen Atrium, a government building in Førde, Norway, was designed to accommodate the visually impaired, with coloured bands which start at the entrance, to guide visitors through the building and end in an enlarged form as destination confirmations. Signage: Ralston & Bau


FAMILY BOX BEIJING, CN Signage: Didelidi studio, Beijing Architecture: crossboundaries architects, Beijing

Child-friendly symbols Comic elements Large typography Simple word formulas

88 89

The motif of the Box is continued in the logo; the website also uses the comic figures which identify the different areas.

The concept of the Family Box, a building providing different leisure activities for families with children up to 12 years old, offers a mixture of interactive activity centre and kindergarten. Freestanding boxes serve as spaces for the individual activities such as musicmaking, dancing, handicrafts or cooking; there is also a swimming pool, a café and a reading zone. Because of its small size and limited number of clearly structured spaces, the building did not require a typical information system. The starting point for the planning of the room descriptions and direction signs were the different sizes and viewing heights of children and adults. And so the architects have played with the levels, creating different visual relationships through specifically positioned openings. The diverse uses of the boxes are highlighted visually through pictures and typographic elements. The graphic design of the interior makes use of forms, language and colours taken from comics and decorates the walls with cartoon figures and large typography made of thick felt. The children and their parents become part of this stimulating fantasy world in which information is communicated using icons in a child-friendly way. The idea of the Box is continued through the logo on flyers and brochures as well as in the design of the Family Box website. Viewed from afar, line drawings of children appear on the translucent glass facade, indicating the function of the building.


Graphic elements and large typography communicate what the children can expect in the different boxes in a way appropriate to the target group – the function is described for the adults in a smaller typeface below.

90 91



Numerous visual relationships are created between the different levels and through the openings in the boxes.



Signage: quandel design, Frankfurt am Main Architecture: MMZ Architekten, Frankfurt am Main

92 93

The signage system was realised bilingually. Large, bold black lettering and arrows against a white background guide visitors through the underground car park to their parking space or to the exit.

GROUND CAR AUS AM PARK User-oriented colour allocation Bold typography Bilingual

Despite its floor area of 9500 m2 over three levels, the layout of the underground car park in the Hochhaus am Park is very fragmented and labyrinthine. The brief was to develop a guidance system which allows drivers to find their parking space or the exit as easily as possible; at the same time a pedestrian orientation system was to be developed in order to guide tenants, customers and visitors safely around the very confusing underground car park. While the typography, based on contrasting black on white, allows drivers to orient themselves quickly, the vivid green on the walls and floors marks the way to the stairwells for pedestrians. In addition, this colour warns drivers that they need to be particularly alert for pedestrians in these areas. The basic principle of the guidance and orientation system, of dispensing entirely with signs, is applied consistently through all areas of the underground car park. All lettering is applied directly to the wall and is bilingual, since the tenants in the high-rise building are mostly international companies. The use of the large, bold typography creates striking markings which stand out clearly from the structural elements and the fragmented layout of the individual parking levels. In this way the signage becomes a space-defining element of the underground car park.

The vivid green on the walls and on the floor shows pedestrians which way to go. Arrows and floor numbers appear as negative areas in white.


VOLKSSCHULE TSCHAGGUNS TSCHAGGUNS, A Signage: Sägenvier DesignKommunikation, Dornbirn Architecture: Lang Vonier Architekten, Göfis

TSCHAGGUNS Symbols drawn by children Dialect words Muted colour scheme

94 95

The head teacher’s proposal that the children should be involved in the design of the new logo became the basic idea for the development of the signage for the primary school, the renovated gymnasium building with its new extension and the kindergarten. The graphic designers asked the children for ideas for symbols and pictograms, incorporated these in an overall concept and then applied the designs directly to the materials of the architecture – wood, glass, concrete and MDF – in high-quality silver and satin-finish films. Throughout the school site, the signage uses no actual signs at all. At the entrance to the school yard, the concrete wall is decorated with words in the local dialect which relate to activities which take place in the yard and in the school: luaga (looking), losna (hearing), schwätza (chatting), tanza (dancing), stauna (being amazed). The concept shows that children have a particular gift for abstraction – their representations are reduced to the essential properties. The elements of the signage, developed from sketches, have an authentic and lively feel, and the children can identify with the design.

VOLKSSCHULE The graphic designers developed the symbols and visual language for the primary school jointly with the children. Together with drawings, the windows are also decorated with around 450 job descriptions – real and invented.


3 96 97

Beate Kling

Analysis and systematic specification of information requirements

Analysis – cause and effect

Before the design of signage can begin, the framework conditions under which an orientation system is to be designed and developed must be determined and analysed. These form the basis for the system concept; the guiding principles for the design are formulated with reference to these conditions, which can be derived from the following six areas: – the data obtained from the analysis of the spatial and building type – the building itself and its architecture – the projected circulation routes with traffic flows, routing and overlaps – the definition of the target group and users with their specific characteristics – conditions from the viewpoint of the client, owner and operator – regulations and standards

Spatial and building type The nature of the space is the constant which must always be referred to directly in the planning of signage before any other requirement is evaluated and considered; it has the greatest and most direct influence on the signage concepts. Turn left, turn right, go up and straight ahead again – all too often the desire to develop holistic concepts is already exhausted at this stage. Types differentiate buildings and spaces according to criteria of use and structural designs with their associated circulation structures, which can be horizontal, vertical, directionless or interwoven. Whether floor plans are geometrical or amorphous has different effects on orientation. The arrangement of spaces and sequences of rooms as well as the resulting visual relationships represent a crucial factor for ease of orientation. So the formal and spatial characteristics associated

The systematic information specification for the University Hospital Greifswald lists the destinations alphabetically and links them with the information necessary to get there. The complex route layouts are transformed into a clear graphic design. Signage: Beate Kling Architekten

with the typologies and their contexts in terms of the use of  space must be recognised in order to respond to these characteristics through the design of guidance and orientation systems.


Irregular forms and complex floor plans impose different requirements on guidance systems than intuitively readable room layouts in symmetrical arrangements. For example, an H-form with its inner logic is more self-explanatory than an amorphous form with many changes in direction. This is shown by examples like the central building of the BMW plant in Leipzig, in which the signage reflects the form of the building, as well as the Bernaqua leisure spa complex with its direction arrows guiding the visitor through the building from space to space (p. 106 /107).

Circulation routes

Circulation routes are the arteries of buildings, connecting the individual spaces. Their design influences the way people move and find their way around in buildings and to a significant degree determines how well a building functions. The more organised circulation routes are, the more self-explanatory the relationship between spaces. Circulation routes can intersect, overlay or run parallel to one another. The efficiency of access is determined by the conjunction of the horizontal and vertical structure of a building. In order to combine the horizontal and vertical routes effectively it is necessary to analyse their relationship,  for example the accessibility of steps, lifts, ramps or bridges, the lengths of a routes, their directness or freedom from intersections. Signage can explain or differentiate the connections, combine or divide traffic flows (see Signterior,

p. 108/109), define hierarchies, mark intersections (see Katta Civic Polyclinic, p. 14/15) and visualise distances (see Storehagen Atrium, p. 87). Even today, digital information technologies are able to analyse individual or current peripheral conditions and on this basis show a virtually unlimited number of routes in real time, as for example in the Alexandrinum Woonmall shopping centre in Rotterdam (see p. 142). In the Zeilgalerie in Frankfurt am Main, visitors can use a terminal with touchscreen function to select their desired destination within the shopping centre, whereupon the route is displayed. Using a QR code, this three-dimensional sequence of directions can also be transferred to and displayed on a smartphone.

Target groups and users

In order to adapt signage specifically to the clientele who are to be guided or addressed, it is necessary to define a user profile. For this purpose, the characteristics of the target group need to be analysed. In addition to the general public, users may, for example, be visitors to and customers of various institutions, patients, exclusively staff and persons with access authorisation, suppliers with and without knowledge of the location, children, the young or the elderly or those with individual or multiple disabilities. The group-specific characteristics and the age structure of the target group have effects on the design and visual appearance of the information system. From the users’ viewpoint, what they require from the signage is that it should convey information in a simple, uncomplicated way, that the information, signs and symbols should be readily understandable and that they should be able to find their way to their destination quickly.

The overview floor plan of the University Hospital Greifswald shows the destination coding using letters and numbers. In order to develop the information system, the areas of influence of the individual destinations were determined. Signage: Beate Kling Architekten



Analysis and systematic specification of information requirements

98 99 The overview graphic shows the conceptual systematic information specification in the new premises of the “Bibliothèque universitaire des langues et civilisations” (BULAC). The departmental structure of the university library can be read here. Concept: Wanja Ledowski Studio with CONTOURS Soft Design

Client, owner and operator The client’s requirements also have a major influence on the design of the system as well as its later operation. It is important for the client, and in particular the operator, to be able to control and influence traffic flows, which gives rise to the concept of circulation layout. For example, it may be decided that the user should be able to find their way around autonomously and independently with as few directions as possible. A further consideration may be to allow the greatest possible flexibility in relation to foreseeable or planned changes in use, relocations or changes in the scope of the project in terms of curtailment or additions. It is not only the costs of the initial provision of a guidance system which play a role in terms of operation. Parameters such as handling, the flexibility of the system in terms of updating, service life, effectiveness in terms of servicing and upkeep and maintenance costs also need to be taken into consideration and weighed up within the overall context. In this connection, solutions which are permanently connected with the structure of the building and which are part of the chosen materials, for example inlays or inserts in flooring, should be subjected to particular scrutiny (see Hypovereinsbank, p. 127).

Regulations and standards In addition, one of the most fundamental influences on the design, use and operation of spaces is the range of requirements dictated by regulations and standards. In terms of building law, signage represents a fully integrated component of building designs and, like the building which is to be constructed, is subject to statutory regulations and guidelines as well as both national and European standards, such as fire safety requirements (DIN 4102 “Fire behaviour of building materials and building components”, DIN EN 13 501 “Fire classification of construc-

tion products and building elements”) or requirements concerning construction of accessible buildings (DIN 18 040 “Construction of accessible buildings – Design principles – Part 1: Publicly accessible buildings, Part 2: Dwellings” and “Part 3: Public circulation areas and open spaces”, which is currently being drafted). For example, corridors which need to be kept free of fire loads require the use of non-combustible materials. As well as building standards, there are also requirements which apply to visual design, for example DIN 32 975 “Designing visual information in the public area for accessible use” or DIN 1450 – “Lettering – Legibility” regarding the contrast and legibility of lettering. Standards governing the design of visual guidance systems for the general public such as exist in Austria, for example (ÖNorm A 3012 and 3013), do not exist in Germany. Norms for partial aspects have been included in DIN 32 984 “Ground surface indicators in public areas” or will be included in the standard “Tactile writings – Application of Braille and raised profile writing and pictograms” which is currently in preparation. Additional provisions with stricter requirements apply to certain building types and regulatory categories, such as in relation to the protection of property or persons, which can have an effect on the choice of materials and the positioning of signage, for example federal building regulations, guidelines and sample guidelines relating to special types of building such as retail premises, places of assembly and accommodation, high-rise buildings and schools, building regulations in the individual federal states, e.g. those relating to hospitals and care homes, regulations on building products and construction types, or in some cases technical building requirements. Due to the different regulations which apply on a national, regional or municipal level, the applicable requirements need to be checked in each individual case.

Teamwork and process

Experience shows that information, guidance and orientation systems can only reflect the conditions determined by the structure of the building and by use and layout concepts. It is difficult for signage to fully compensate for poorly organised spaces, incorrect relationships between circulation areas and functional areas, excessively small circulation spaces or an inadequate use of a building. Designs which incorporate highly differentiated uses necessarily require more information points than a concentrated use of a building which can be accessed with less information. The earlier the stage at which the design of signage systems is integrated into the design process, the higher the probability of developing, through mutual communication, practical and intelligent solutions which ultimately represent an integrated signage system. Thus, the client and the design team, which might include architects, designers, communications experts, media designers, lighting designers, experts in the programming and creation of digital signage and other participants should get together at an early stage at the beginning of a project in order to develop a vision based on the key principles described above and to draft guidelines in the form of a specifi-

cation or design manual. This must be accepted by all participants as the basis for design. For design which has already been commissioned, the sequence of consecutive steps could, for example, be as follows (see also “The integration of symbols and space”, p. 70 – 75): – Analysis, review of the existing situation and examination of the brief by the architects and specialists involved in the design of the signage – Kick-off meeting and follow-up meetings with the aim of developing guidelines, optional formation of a working group in which the client is involved – Implementation of the findings in design manuals, specifications or other binding agreements setting out all declarations of intent and framework conditions. At the same time the formulated guidelines represent a tool of mutual reassurance during the course of the design process. – Development of a preliminary design/overall concept in a first phase – Presentation, detailed discussion and adoption of the results by the team and in the working group, including at least the client

Parameters for signage

Spatial and building type Characteristics of the type Structure of use Single use, mixed use, parallel uses with spatial demarcation, overlapping uses

Architecture Building form, volume Floor plan layout Spatial characteristics Spatial relationships Sequences of rooms Visual relationships within the building Constructions Fire protection

Circulation routes Access structure Route layout, traffic flows, overlapping of circulation routes, distances Horizontal and vertical access Stairs, lifts, ramps, levels, relationships between levels Visual relationships within and to circulation routes Intensity of use

Target group, users Target group characteristics Definition of user profile Age structure User requirements information must be simple to take in, directly understandable, quick and clear navigation to destination

Client, owner, occupier Functionality navigation by users, control of traffic flows, flexibility in the event of changes of use, changing occupation, less /additional information required Economy Simple to update, upkeep, servicing and maintenance, long service life, costs of initial installation and maintenance

Regulations, standards State building regulations, national, European and international standards e.g. DIN, DIN EN, DIN EN ISO, SN, ÖNORM, SIA, ISO etc.

Components of signage

Systematic information specification Basis for the content of signage and information, orientation and guidance systems; tool for the structural classification of all content-related and functional information including components relating to corporate identity/design, building identity and brand management

Signage – information, orientation and guidance systems Translation of the systematic information specification into a readable and tangible form

Information Definition of information

Coding Word codes, codes with numbers and characters, colour coding, individual codes Language, understanding of language, semantics Semantic definition of word information, technical terms, generally understandable terms, multilingualism

Orientation Visualisation of information Communication, media and product design Design Orientation aids, direction indicators Floor plans, diagrams Colours, forms, material, texture, light and lighting Screen design Typography Typeface, type family Suitability, legibility, relationship to application Typographic categories System of orientation symbols pictograms, symbols, word marks (logos), figurative marks Key visuals Integration of external word and figurative marks and marketing elements

Guidance Materialisation of information Information carriers, additional sources of information Components Information carriers on wall, ceiling and floor Braille and raised lettering Digital devices: monitors, touchscreens, multi-touch systems, touch-free screen systems Additional sources of information Assistance personnel Acoustic assistance in lifts, at information points Printed products: flyers, brochures Internet presence and linking Apps, barcodes and QR codes and their further developments Supplementary information software Mobile devices: navigation devices, smart terminal devices such as smart phones and tablets, autoguides




Analysis and systematic specification of information requirements

100 101



Given directions

d Floor

1. Starting information digital/analogue information source

2. Define distance, create visual relationship

3. Begin specific route guidance

4. Create vertical references

5. Guidance onwards by means of specific route guidance via intermediate information

Systematic basis of a route guidance system

– The provision and adaptation in a design/overall concept in a second phase with final approval by clients, management boards, senior management, supervisory boards and/or other important bodies – Successive implementation within the agreed scope of performance, defined planning steps, performance phases etc.

Systematic information specification and implementation

tion of the systematic information specification can be helpful for internal coordination purposes. The result is later transformed into a readable, customised form using the orientation design (see Orientation Design, p. 110 – 115). The goal definition developed through the initial analysis is the starting point for the systematic information specification; the successful communication of information in turn depends directly on the underlying philosophy and well-conceived nature of this specification. Sufficient space should be allowed for its conception during the initial phase of a project. The involvement of all partners participating in the development of the concept is essential during this important phase.

Systematic information specification At the heart of any information, guidance and orientation system is the systematic information specification. It forms the entire basis for the content of the signage. For this purpose, purely in terms of content, the relationships between all the parameters which are of decisive importance for the project are analysed; these parameters are hierarchised and systematised, guidance information which is formulated in language needs to be semantically defined and the number and density of additional sources of instructive information decided upon. In logistical and organisational terms, quantities and flows of information are determined and structured, circulation routes determined, room directories compiled, the system of room numbering and vertical and horizontal relationships defined and fundamental programming decisions made. A visualisa-

All findings and requirements from the systematic information specification are embodied, visually and materially, in the information, orientation and guidance system. The function of the information system is above all to prepare the information content derived from the systematic information specification and the other requirements and present this visually. For example, it provides information on all the functional contents of a building, the destinations to be reached, the location of entrances, stairs, lifts, toilets and departments or individual rooms etc. and places elements of information in relation to one another, such as the combination of an exit with a particular service. The orientation system translates and visualises the information from the systematic information specification and the information system with the aid of graphic and typographic means and is supplemented by the components providing direction and orientation. These can be arrows, pictograms or symbols as well as floor plan representations positioned on walls, on the ceiling or on the floor. They show the way to quite specific destinations.

Signage systems consist of an information system, orientation system and guidance system, and each of these components performs a different function. Nonetheless, the boundaries between these components are fluid and cannot always be clearly defined. The weighting of the individual components is determined by the nature of the design brief. The basis for the signage is provided by the systematic information specification.

Information, orientation and guidance system

6. Destination confirmation

Larger companies or institutions frequently consist of subbrands or company divisions with their own visual appearance which need to be integrated in the design of the signage. These sub-brands can be subject to a constant process of change: new brands, users or departments are added, others dropped. The signage should be able to respond neutrally to changes without losing its fundamental functionality, identity and modernity. The guidance system transfers all visualised information to material, structural components, and into digital signage and supplementary possibilities. The term signage is increasingly used to refer to the representation of spatial orientation in buildings or open areas. In a wider sense, this is particularly true if, in addition to the pure processing of information, as well as its ordering and allocation, this involves the use, processing and linking together of  components of corporate identity, building identity and brand management.

Intelligent information systems

The design development of an information and orientation system starts with the hierarchy of all the elements derived from the brief. It defines the levels which are to be designed and relates them to one another in terms of content and design. In the case of underground car parks for example, floor levels, exits and parking space numbering must be related to one another and indicating and guiding hierarchical levels defined. In stadia, block units need to be defined, categorised and visually differentiated in terms of their accessibility and provision of access to other blocks, as do indicating and directing hierarchies in airports, from check-in to the individual gate. The information relating to functional and routing relationships, spatial-architectural circumstances and the requirements of the target groups are thereby brought together. At the same time, in an integrative process, the client and designers identify administrative organisational units and functional areas which are then taken into consideration in the concept. The levels of hierarchy make it possible for the users to orient themselves clearly within the overall system, since individual levels are characterised by elements which can be clearly distinguished from one another . Information systems are represented by recurring and precisely selected control elements. The selection of the control elements for the communication of information must guarantee the continuity of the whole information chain – from the starting point to the confirmation of destination. It essentially depends on the size and complexity of the building, cultural context, fixed and variable information, their quantitative relationships as well as the quantity of the information. Generally speaking: the more information there is, the less this can be passed on without being filtered and the sooner it needs to be systematised and hierarchised (see University Hospital Greifswald, p. 96 / 97, 102 – 105, Vienna airport, p.  146 – 149). The interplay of macroelements which are already readable from afar, as well as microelements which can only be read close-up allows the users a differentiated perception of the information. In this way, the signage can respond to the users’ sequence of movement, and at the same time the sequence of spatially staggered information elements enhances the spatial experience and thus becomes an important element of the interior design. The layering of the information in design levels makes it possible to read interior design and information separately, without the architectural connection being lost, so improving the way the information is processed by the users. In addition, threedimensional design elements of the signage create a level of perception which can strengthen the overall concept of the architecture.

Groupings of information and hierarchies offer the possibility of bundling a number of information elements in order to isolate and specify these as the user approaches the destination. Thus, for example, the inclusion of a checkout pictogram conveys the concept “checkout”. Or several destinations can be indicated in combination by means of an abbreviation and can be distinguished at the destination with specific information such as “B2 Internal Medicine” and “B2 Internal Medicine – Dialysis”.


The systematisation of information is the basis for developing information systems which allow the simple and rapid communication of information. Codes are tools which can be used directly for this purpose. They can be used individually or as combinations of letters, numbers, colours and materials as well as pictograms and arrows, and can, for example, characterise special functions, spaces, floors or buildings. Coding allows a large number of forms of information to be systematically integrated in the information and orientation hierarchies. It can be used to organise information hierarchically or give structure to equivalent destinations such as gates at airports or entrance doors in exhibition halls. If a lot of information is involved or provision needs to be made for changes of occupier and relocations, an address can be formed which is fixed and tied to a particular location through the definition of destination points. It is assigned the corresponding destination information and users find their way there using the guidance system. Since the address is permanently assigned to a location, its use is highly flexible, analogous to residential addresses.

The success of a combination of abbreviations or letters/ numerical codes depends on simple readability. The more elements are linked, the greater the tendency to intervene through the use of additional symbols such as hyphens or full stops. However, this is more likely to make it harder to organise and recognise chains of information, whereas simple codes which are limited to the absolutely essential make it easier to take in the information. If additional symbols are necessary, they should be designed so as to be easy to read and should be used sparingly. A room numbering code for a part of the building with level and room number can, for example, be “L/EG-078” or – more legibly, a simplified formula divided with spaces such as “L EG 078”.

Positioning The way information can be applied, and at what height, what interval, how frequently and in which position, depends on various parameters such as the architecture, the design, the visual means and the requirements specified in the standards, which in some cases differ, for example with regard to contrast, the height of symbols in relation to viewing distances, levels of illumination, the determination of the viewing distance, possible colour combinations etc. The intensity with which spaces are used is the key factor for the positioning of information in terms of general visibility. The visibility height for information in congested buildings such as airports, railways stations, sporting venues and trade fairs is set above 2 m, so that it is not obstructed by people. In less frequented areas, information can be positioned exactly where it is required in the specific context and can best be accommodated without interference (see Systematic basis of a route guidance system, p. 100). When developing signage, the aim must always be to translate the complex requirements into ordered simplicity – or, to put it another way, to strive for simplicity in complexity. If this is achieved successfully, one can speak of an intelligent information system.



Signage: Beate Kling Architekten, Berlin Architecture: Arkitekter Dall & Lindhardtsen, Helsingør; HWP Planungsgesellschaft, Stuttgart

Fixed and variable information Destination coding through letters and numbers

102 103

The main building of the University Hospital Greifswald consists of the new central building as well as adjoining ward wings and bridge connections leading to several existing buildings. The orientation system developed for this purpose makes use of the chessboard-like structure on which the major part of the building complex is based. The destination points are defined by means of a combination of letters and numbers which links together the orthogonally intersecting circulation routes. The successive commissioning of the complex and the building structure itself requires a flexible system and a decentralised layout. Two different colours of lettering were introduced for this purpose – light grey for variable information and green for fixed information. The system which was introduced in the existing buildings was conceived as a family of signs, the elements of which are integrated into the structural context in different ways: through brackets which create a visual connection with the high ceilings, through wall mounting and as free-standing information panels. The graphic concept makes use of the greatest possible contrast between the colour values: the anthracite-coloured background makes the information stand out against the mostly white setting of the hospital; free-standing information panels in green with anthracitecoloured lettering display information which is not related to clinical operations. The use of the same size typeface on virtually all signs creates a calm visual appearance and makes it easier to concentrate on the information. The chosen typeface, the colour contrasts and the viewing distances also fulfil the needs of the visually impaired. The green edges on the information carriers make it even easier to recognise them.

The identical graphic design of the signs focuses the visitor's attention on the information and guarantees visual calm as well as ease of recognition. The green and light grey colours respectively indicate fixed and flexible information.

SITY HOSPITAL Brackets of varying heights ensure that the ceiling signs hang at the same height in all locations; at the same time they connect the information elements visually with the building.

In order to guarantee continuous guidance, visual contact is maintained between the individual information elements; in this way the correctness of the chosen route is confirmed at regular intervals.

The sign components and information carriers are oriented on the grid of the wall design with its reinforced concrete bands and clinker brickwork.


BERNAQUA BERN, CH Signage: L2M3 Kommunikationsdesign, Stuttgart Architecture: Architekt Daniel Libeskind, Zurich

Reduction to a single guiding element Three-dimensional direction arrows

106 107

The Bernaqua leisure spa complex designed by Daniel Libeskind is characterised by the intersections of surfaces and spaces typical of the buildings designed by this architect, through which spatial structures are developed which merge into one another and in which no spatial form is repeated. The unconventional floor plan is complex and difficult to navigate. In terms of conception, what was needed was more of a guidance system than an orientation system. Overview elements are virtually dispensed with in the spa; only a few different components are used to guide the visitors from room to room. A listing of destinations in the form of lettering in combination with direction arrows provides easy-to-grasp and simple-to-understand aids to orientation. The reduction of the colour scheme to black and white as well as the maximum contrast between wall surfaces and applied elements achieved through this harmonise with the architecture. The arrow elements are three-dimensional and react to the inclination of the wall – the front surface of the arrows is always perpendicular to the floor. The differing inclinations of the walls and the varying directions in which the arrows point create different forms, no arrow element occurs twice. In contrast to the intersection of flat surfaces in the architecture and the arrows emerging at an angle to these, the chosen typeface is “soft”. The letters are stamped and minimally raised above the jointing pattern of the architecture.

60 mm min. 10 mm

177 mm


55° 30 mm

min. 10 mm

Directions are indicated by lettering combined with three-dimensional direction arrows projecting from the wall. The wall surfaces are inclined; however, the front surfaces of the arrows are always perpendicular to the floor.



SIGNTERIOR SHANGHAI, CN Signage: ujidesign, Tokyo Architecture: A-ASTERISK, Shanghai; A-I-SHA architects, Shanghai

Disentanglement of circulation routes Differentiation through colour allocation

108 109

This office and business building in Shanghai combines three different uses. These are accessed via several main entrances, which results in a complex system of circulation. One of the main functions of the information and orientation system is therefore to guide visitors clearly at the entrance level. This is achieved through a close integration of signage and interior design (Sign + Interior = Signterior). Three different colours differentiate the areas visually – silver for the retail spaces on the ground floor of the high-rise building, gold for the standard office spaces on the second and third floors and bronze for the premium office spaces on the other floors. Applied to the floor in the form of lines and areas of colour, they guide visitors coming from several directions directly to the different lifts and escalators serving the different floors. In this way, the traffic flows are differentiated, hierarchised and divided at an early stage; the circulation routes are defined in a self-explanatory way. Here, the effect of the signage is not simply one of imposing order, but of orchestration, and is deliberately used to enhance the quality and attractiveness of the architecture. As it is integrated into the floor, it needed to be simpler to understand and larger than information applied to the walls. In order to guarantee adequate durability, the colours and lettering were screen-printed onto a fabric which is arranged between sheets of non-slip glass. On the upper floors, framing structures on the walls and large illuminated numbers guide visitors to the different rooms.

The graphic framing of the routes on the upper floors creates a new spatial identity and divides up the long corridors.

SIGNTERIOR The rounded edges of the architecture and the transition between wall and ceiling have been incorporated into the orientation system.


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Torsten Krüger

Orientation design

The development of the design for an information and orientation system starts with the overall communication concept. This “big idea”, derived from the content of the theme which is to be addressed creatively, forms the link between architecture, design and signage. It builds on the elements of both the corporate identity and the building identity, but in addition creates its own level of design and perception which enhances the value and functional efficiency of the building. Conceptually, signage develops the space further than can generally be achieved through the architecture alone and thus offers the opportunity to optimise the architecture from the user's perspective. The signage can adopt, complement and carefully accentuate the building’s architectural language. However, it can also disrupt an architectural concept, surprise the user, lead to new unaccustomed ways of seeing or consciously dominate the architecture. All strategies are conceivable and are in fact pursued in practice, depending on the design brief. In daily life we are permanently surrounded by elements of signage – we refer to road signs, house numbers, place names or room descriptions for orientation or unconsciously allow ourselves to be guided by them. If it's not necessary to search for orientation elements or consciously focus on them, where we perceive elegant forms, high-quality materials or clear typography more or less incidentally, this has a large influence on whether we respond positively to a location or note. The big design idea needs to take this into consideration and find a convincing solution to this challenge. Signage conveys to us decisive messages about places and organisations: Is the city inviting? Is a building modern? Does the user appear innovative? Are the employees working in a creative atmosphere? The design of signage further develops the design concept embodied in the architecture and the

In the Empire Riverside Hotel in Hamburg, signage elements are implemented in different surface materials – wood on wood, bronze on bronze. A differentiated perception is achieved through colour nuances and shadows. Architecture: David Chipperfield Architects, signage: polyform – planen und gestalten

interior design and at the same time sets new individual accents. The relationship between these disciplines determines the way the built environment is perceived. Ideally, the  different disciplines develop a common attitude and language which can also be applied and adapted in the details in a versatile way. The client’s philosophy is incorporated in the overall design concept through the inclusion of the material, texture, colour and form that make up their brand identity. Appealing and clearly structured orientation systems have a positive effect on this appearance and are closely associated with the public positioning of a city, a company or an institution.

Recessed and projecting textures on the walls of the Ackermannshof in Basel make reference to its former use as a case room and printing shop. Building descriptions are “stamped”, tenants’ names are raised and can be exchanged like type. Architecture: Lost-Architekten, signage: Notice Kommunikation & Design

Various techniques used in analogue and digital applications are available for the design of the signage. The way information is codified and standardised is fundamental to our ability to take in and communicate information rapidly. These aspects form the basis for the conception and realisation of successful signage systems (see Analysis and systematic specification of information requirements, p. 101).


The communication of information essentially takes place using lettering and other symbols. For this reason, the choice of typefaces is of particular importance in the field of signage, in terms of both design and the way the information is taken in by the user. The typefaces which are used should be easily legible in different sizes and applications. However, the typography must also fit in with the surroundings in which it is used and with the architecture. As a rule, a distinction is made in typography between different levels of use, analogous to the hierarchy of the orientation system. Precedence is given to the brand name of the user or of the building, which is defined by the corporate identity of the company. The naming and signing of buildings, functional areas, groups of rooms and individual rooms are specified in a graduated design concept. The choice of typeface, sizes of lettering, the colours of the background and characters as well as additional typographic elements is made with a given viewing distance in mind and should primarily fulfil the main requirement of rapid and clear information and orientation. The greater the viewing distance, the larger and more high-contrast the typographic elements need to be. The definition of spatial height relationships, typefaces and type sizes for information elements which are then standardised and used for the entire design improves the legibility of the information elements, since the user is able to read and interpret repeatedly-used graphic and typographic elements quickly.


Pictograms are symbols which reduce messages in information and orientation systems to small, clearly-readable icons. Their visual language represents a further level of information. Although derived from a graphic concept, the abstraction of a function into a pictogram, for example, representing stairs, a lift, a direction or toilet facilities, creates a design language of its own. Pictograms are frequently used together with typography, for individual design solutions in order to achieve differentiation and individualisation. Apart from standard themes, special pictogram families can be developed for selected buildings which are based on the overall concept for the design of the signage system for a building or event. Pictograms are often an expression of the intellectual aspirations of the client and designer. As symbols or icons, they can develop their own charisma, since they provide orientation independently of language and typeface and are universally understandable. They tell their own visual stories, expressing clarity, humour or formal experimentation and are reminiscent of the origins of written culture, which is largely based on



Orientation design

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abstract graphic symbols. Some symbols are also internationally standardised; for example, emergency exits are marked by green illuminated signs with a white arrow pointing in the direction of the exit, whereas fire protection equipment such as fire extinguishers and hydrants are identified with red signs. Arrows are one of the symbols used most frequently in signage. However, they only acquire meaning in combination with a destination. The identification of spaces through abstract and graphic representations such as animals or plants for example enables a graphic coding of the destination which goes beyond pictograms and uses easily remembered images. These are often used in institutions for children or for elderly people.


Colours are an important design element in spaces. They function on the same perceptual level as the graphic components of signage and influence the effect of spaces and the way they are appropriated by users. Information and orientation systems also use coloured elements and surfaces to identify groups of rooms or to indicate directions. For example, the allocation of  particular colours to certain sections of buildings helps structure overall relationships. For this reason, it is necessary that a colour concept should be coordinated between the interior design and the information and orientation systems. The visual coding of functions through colour, material and texture facilitates rapid and clear orientation. Increasing the brightness and colour contrasts improves the legibility of the information. Colours can only be perceived clearly and quickly within a range of five to seven shades. Only graduations of basic col-

The lettering concept used for the Dreispitzhalle in Basel, a converted logistics warehouse, translates the type and character of the building as well as its present use into typography. The lettering extends over a length of 60 metres and allows the original patina of the warehouse to shine through. Concept: Hauser, Schwarz

ours should be chosen for colour allocations exceeding this number, though this contributes little to better legibility. In some cases it is possible – or even necessary – to replace written information with colour allocations and pictograms in  order to communicate information in a barrier-free way in  accordance with the principles of universal design (see p. 84 – 87).

Material and texture

By using materials, forms or processing techniques which are derived from the architecture, the interior design or from a brand, the signage can become part of a  wider spatial experience (see Empire Riverside Hotel, p. 110 / 111). In this way a continuous image is created which brings together architecture, design and signage and makes the signage a key element within the interior design. New design accents can also be created in this way which go beyond communicating purely use-specific messages and emotional appeal. For example, texts and symbols can be integrated in a terrazzo floor so that the floor becomes an information carrier; room descriptions can fold out of the wall in three dimensions. Such techniques require close coordination between architecture, interior design and signage at an early stage. Other interactions between the specialist fields are also possible at a later stage, for example, incorporating the material of an architectural detail or fixture in the carrier material of the signage.

The symbols of the “Vienna Method of Pictorial Statistics” designed in the 1920s were the first symbol system of this kind. An international pictorial language, known from 1934 onwards as Isotype (International System of Typographic Picture Education) was developed from this. Design: Otto Neurath


The three-dimensional execution of information and orientation elements is increasingly being used in order to enhance the perceived value and quality of the signage (see for example adidas Laces, p. 62 – 65; Holon Design Museum, p. 82 / 83). The transition from two-dimensional to three-dimensional form plays with our accustomed sense of perception and opens up new perspectives in terms of the appropriation of a space. In these projects, the signage elements achieve a design quality which goes beyond the actual communication of information and lends them the status of art and uniqueness. The interplay of signage with architecture and design strengthens the overall concept.

Key Visuals

Key visuals are graphic or animated elements which use key images to communicate important product qualities. They are used in  order to support the basic communication concept in a graphic way and to supplement main messages with associative images. In buildings, there is a smooth transition between the surfaces developed as part of the interior design and the information and orientation system. For example, in order to illustrate the “digital” aspect of the work of a research institute, its signage could use graphically abstracted pixel clouds and incorporate the walls, floor and ceiling in the design. In this case the key visual is key to the design of the space closely connecting signage and interior.

The pictogram system originally developed for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich is still in worldwide use today. The wide selection of pictograms is continuously being developed and expanded. Design: Otl Aicher

The pictogram system developed for the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg projects a conceptual pattern of dots onto the building, using the symbolic language to make the pattern visible in graphic form. Signage: unit-design, in collaboration with ingenhoven architects


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Semantics and language

Orientation design

The guidance and orientation system for the Stuttgart Trade Fair uses vivid colours which accompany visitors on brightly coloured bands and wall surfaces. The colour combination shortens the perceived length of the routes and makes it easier to take in information. The coding of the destinations is achieved through the use of different colours. Architecture: wulf & partner, signage: büro uebele visuelle kommunikation

Semantics, language and the understanding of language have an important influence on the communication of information and thus on the design of information and orientation systems. As in the visual language or in the development of pictograms, there are fundamentally different approaches to using language. In choosing words, a distinction must be made between generally understandable terms and specialist terminology. Does this corridor lead to the “Children’s Clinic” or to “Paediatrics”? The number of terms used should also be limited and easily manageable. Important destinations are often referred to by their own names, for example Auditorium, Accident and Emergency or Exit, and distinguished graphically from standard destinations. Stairs can accordingly be indicated by the pictogram for stairs or using the word “stairs”. The use of language, typography and symbols follows established, acquired habits. However, language is always a

living thing, absorbing new terms and abandoning those which are no longer used. This is reflected in signage through the adoption of internationally used terms such as lounge, lobby or lift. Multilingual users require multilingual information systems. Internationally, it is widespread practice to use the national language together with English as an international language, with the information in most cases being provided first in the national language and then in the second language. This produces a dual graphic system in which the national language dominates as a rule, with the second language playing a secondary role in the graphic implementation. If more than two languages are used, this makes the graphic design significantly more difficult, since it makes it harder to associate the words with the relevant languages and thus impairs understanding. This can be seen in countries with two or more main languages, like Belgium or Switzerland for example, as well as in border regions. However, innovative and interesting solutions are often created for such cases.


Information and orientation elements such as typography and pictograms can be backlit in order to improve their visibility and legibility. LEDs, for example, are a suitable light source for this purpose because they combine a long service life with low power consumption and low emission of heat into the building. The intensity and colour of the light is adjusted to the strength of the existing natural and artificial lighting in order to communicate the information optimally with minimum energy consumption. Light is also used to project text, pictograms and key visuals onto defined surfaces (see Brühltor-Passage, p. 150 / 151). However, this is only practical in spaces which do not themselves have a high level of background brightness and, up to a height of 2 m, only works in less frequented areas, since otherwise the projections can be blocked by crowds.

Digital visual language

All information and orientation elements can also be displayed on digital screens (see Digital Communication of Information, p. 136–143). In this case the typography and visual language as well as the communicator behaviour are further developed and adapted for digital presentation. Digital screens are becoming widely used for rapidly changing information in particular, and this technology is already in use at airports and railway stations, in conference centres and administrative buildings. In addition, with touchscreens

mounted in permanently installed free-standing information panels, digital information systems offer the possibility of communicating complex subjects simply and intuitively by means of a widely used standard. A wide range of analogue and digital technologies is already available for these applications and will increase further in the  future. These have a significant influence on the visual design of content and set new standards in signage. However, analogue orientation systems will continue to be used for locations which remain largely unchanging, since the use of digital technologies is limited by high investment and maintenance costs.

Signage and advertising media

In commercial buildings and in public spaces, the visual appearance of the architecture is frequently dominated by advertising displays. The relationship between advertising displays and signage must be established at an early stage in order to accommodate both systems. Ideally the two concepts are developed jointly, so that their design, approval and realisation take place in an integrated process and are taken into consideration at an early stage. Architecture which makes no provision for signage and advertising fixtures risks being disfigured by what is added later and creates conflicts between creatives, clients, the authorities and the firms carrying out the work.

Left: The backlighting of information elements increases the legibility of typography and pictograms and makes it easy to recognise the rhythm of the elements in space. Above: Schipohl Airport Amsterdam. Signage: Paul Mijksenaar Below: Zurich Airport. Architecture: Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners, signage concept: Burri public elements, graphic design: designalltag

Above: In the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias in Valencia the communication of information in several languages takes place through graduations of the style of a typeface. Signage: Bosco Below: The lettering in the “Kleines Haus” studio theatre of the Staatsschauspiel Dresden references stage directions. Arrows are replaced with verbal directions. Signage: Gourdin & Müller




Signage: unit-design, Frankfurt am Main Architecture: Meixner Schlüter Wendt Architekten, Frankfurt am Main

D E not public

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Head of department; Administration; Legal unit

5th floor

Municipal police; Veterinary section

4th floor

Municipal police

3rd floor

Regulatory affairs; Regulatory offences

2nd floor



1st Foreign nationals section; floor Entrance: Official veterinary service Service centre

Ground floor

Entrance: Foreign nationals section Main entrance to Public Order Office


DNUNGSAMT FURT The red information elements accentuate the contrast of black and white.

Clear navigation Black-white contrast Red as a signal colour

In a building for the Municipal Public Order Department of Frankfurt, a universal orientation system was conceived for the public authority which guides visitors from the entrance areas to the different services provided on the upper floors. Understandability, legibility, openness and transparency are of particular importance here. In dialogue with the employees and the administration, a signage system was created which is aimed above all at providing clarity and orientation in order to ensure that a diverse public could reliably navigate its way around the building. For this purpose, a system of clear, simple-to-read overview plans and pictograms was developed and used throughout the entire building. The basic colours of the concept, black, red and white, are used both in the interior design and in the communication design. The flowing forms and material aesthetic of the interiors form the basis for the integration of all signage elements – architecture, interior design and signage merge to form an overall image. This orientation concept has already been applied to the premises of the department of health and the municipal engineering services and will also be used in other municipal departments in Frankfurt, allowing consistent communication with the puiblic, in the medium term, and giving the municipal departments a new, independent identity.

Architecture, design and communication follow a holistic design approach.


NAGASAKI PREFECTURAL ART MUSEUM NAGASAKI, J Signage: Hara Design Institute, Tokyo Architecture: Kengo Kuma Associates, Tokyo


Oversized guidance information signs are positioned on both sides of the facade as separate objects.

NAGASAKI ART MUSEUM Sculptural signage Guiding elements combined into units

The architecture of the Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum is dominated by the stone louvres positioned in front of the facades, which echo the theme of the traditional Southern Japanese veranda architecture and its wooden louvres. The entrance signage adapts this louvered facade and uses it as a design element. Two rows of louvres project vertically from the ground in front of the entrance area like the teeth of a comb. The two different structures overlap, creating a dynamic, wavelike movement as the viewer passes by, a kind of three-dimensional moiré effect. Through the interaction of the structures, from certain angles a new pattern emerges, not originally found in either of the two patterns: the logo of the museum with and the lettering of its name in Japanese and English. In the interior of the museum, pictograms, direction arrows and lettering are combined into units. They give directions in the form of three-dimensional objects made of high-quality materials, almost wholly detached from the architecture, becoming independent sculptures suspended in space. Echoing these sculptural elements, oversized guidance information signs are positioned on both sides of the facade as separate objects. The direction arrows hang freely in space while forming structural units with the facade.

The interaction of the structures creates a kind of three-dimensional moiré effect.



Signage: TGG Hafen Senn Stieger, St. Gallen Architecture: Dietrich | Untertrifaller | Stäheli Architekten, Bregenz

Movement as design theme Coupling of guiding lines with destination information

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The Sport Center Science City on the ETH’s Hönggerberg campus is a spacious sports facility with a sustainable energy concept. Although large parts of the complex are built on a hillside, a bright atmosphere prevails due to the partly translucent, partly transparent facades on the south and west sides. A spacious foyer forms the central circulation level, allowing access to the different sports areas. The basic tonality of the interior design concept is white. The extremely minimal colour scheme of the fixtures and fittings makes the red signage clearly stand out. This is a key component of the spatial effect; the red forms a complementary contrast to the green of architectural elements such as window frames and glass balustrades. The direction system uses visual elements taken from the world of sports, reminiscent of the court markings in indoor sports facilities. The lines represent in abstract form sequences of movement within the buildings and, starting out from the names of the relevant destinations, run, quite literally, like a red thread through the facility. The signage, which runs both over the walls and on the floor, is applied using the same technique as used for sports field markings.

The information in the signage extends far into the space, the key graphic element is the guiding red lines which are reminiscent of sports field markings.






Analogue communication of information Beate Kling








Digital communication of information Michael Schwanke-Seer








Epilogue – The iconography of the third millennium Torsten Krüger


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Beate Kling

Analogue communication of information

In the past, analogue elements were the most commonly used form of information carrier. Today however, numerous possibilities are also being developed for integrating digital information carriers including new media; the associated price harmonisation also makes these media widely accessible. Despite the increasingly widespread use of digital solutions, analogue information carriers designed for the simple and economical communication of information will remain a  fixed component of signage systems, where, for example, individual solutions, small projects, fire protection requirements or customers’ wishes make a digital solution unsuitable, uneconomical, impractical or indeed undesirable.

Additive information carriers

Ideally, information carriers are integrated into the architecture of a building. However, for various reasons this is not always possible, as in the case of retrofitting, renovations, budget constraints or temporary signage systems. In these cases, signs and lettering are usually subsequently applied to the architecture. Ideally, this involves systems which have been specially developed for the project in question and which apply the principles of integrated signage to additive elements. Through the way they are finished, as well as through the choice of materials and colouring, the signs can make a statement regarding the value of the information they carry. In this way, families of signs are developed which make it possible to use the corresponding sign for each situation and requirement and thus allow meaningful sequences of information to be created. The sign elements and combinations should refer to the properties of the architecture in that they reflect these or deliberately contrast with these. In this way, even an orientation system which has been added subsequently can have an integrated effect, both functionally and visually (see University Hospital Greifswald, p. 102 – 105).

Integrated information carriers

Integrated information carriers are characterised by being attached to or integrated structurally and sensorily with the surroundings. The decisive factor is the conceptual approach and not, for example, whether there is an actual physical connection between the elements and the architecture. This approach requires integrative planning at an early stage. In order to integrate information, the characteristics of the architecture are transferred to the information carriers or interpreted, translated or extrapolated accordingly for the media which are to be used to communicate the information. Different materials, surfaces, textures and colours with their differing effects are used for this purpose (see Orientation design, p. 110–115). The desired properties of the orientation system can be achieved through the materials and physical elements used as well as their connection with a room or building; the information enters into a symbiosis with the building carrying it.

Two-dimensional applications

Top: The guidance system for the Landesbibliothek Oberösterreich in Linz refers thematically to the 1930s typography already used in the building and develops it further in the form of threedimensional objects. Signage: bauer – concept & design

Opposite page: In the German Hygiene Museum in Dresden, information is applied directly to the walls, so the structure of the building serves as a directional information carrier. Signage: Gourdin & Müller Left: The “congestion” of information on the ceiling of the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences is part of the concept. The location was chosen because of the young target group and busy circulation routes during break times. Signage: büro uebele visual communication

Walls, ceiling and floors makes suitable information carriers for two-dimensional applications, for example for typefaces or pictograms. Liquid materials such as paints or pastes are applied with the aid of coating methods – also using fresco and spatula techniques – or materials such as high-performance films, papers, sheet metal or composite materials are applied directly to the structure or to claddings such as panels. These forms of application are frequently used, for example, in museums and in exhibition design. In addition to offering flexibility as well as simple and quick renewability at low cost, they have the advantage that they allow information to be readily integrated in the spatial context and in secondary designs (see Deutsches Hygienemuseum, p. 124; Fachhochschule Osnabrück, p. 125). Other possible means of applying information, to glass for example, are screen-printing, etching and enamelling. Inlays can be used to incorporate information in the building, for example metals inlaid in in-situ terrazzo (see Hypovereinsbank, p. 127) or hard aggregate screeds, veneers inlaid in wooden surfaces, plastic in epoxy resin flooring, neoprene in woods, reflective glass microspheres in concrete (see BlingCrete, p. 127). The integrated information can display a spatial dimension, in that the information flow follows the architecture and corresponds with it – lines, arrows and lettering run around corners, inlays are located in structural joints, information flows down the stairs or winds up pillars. Walls, ceiling, floors as well as individual building components such as pillars, balustrades, stairs or counters can themselves serve as information carriers, if for example they are fully defined as signal-generating surfaces and provided with contrasting colours, rasterised or structured.

Three-dimensional objects

Information and information carriers can merge to form an object which then presents itself three-dimensionally with a twofold function – on the one hand the information carrier itself becomes information, and on the other hand it is an integrated part of the  overall context. In this case information forms physical bodies, combines with and grows out of the space as a material embodiment, interprets formal approaches, extends the  design concept (for example direction arrows in the Bernaqua spa complex, p. 106/107, and in the Holon Design Museum, p. 82/83, floor numbers in the Landesbibliothek Oberösterreich, p. 125). These can take the form of symbols, letters, numbers, logos, three-dimensional pictograms or icons which appear like sculptures. Information can also be realised on a larger scale and form 3D objects which primarily



Analogue communication of information

In the Eureka underground car park in Melbourne, Australia, distorted-perspective typography is spatially arranged in such a way that it is legible from the angle of view of the recipient of the information. Signage: Axel Peemoeller

126 127 Information can be formed directly from the architecture or can be integrated into it. The perforated facade cladding of the Family Box family activity centre uses pixelated children’s drawings to signal the function of the building. The pattern of the facade is transferred to the interior through the incident sunlight and the projection of shadows. Architecture: crossboundaries architects, signage: Didelidi studio

fulfil a different function, for example a reception desk in the form of lettering, walls made of characters, room-dividing elements made of symbols etc. (see adidas Laces, p. 62 – 65) or which also inhabit a spatial dimension (see Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum, p. 118/119). When the information becomes a 3D object which corresponds with the architecture rather than simply being incorporated, and also forms the starting point for the creative concept, signage can not only be integrated in the space but actually merge with it (see Surry Hills Library & Community Center, p. 16 / 17).


When architecture, formal language and information merge together and two-dimensional elements are linked with three-dimensional elements, this can intensify the effects of signage. In its implementation, information can, for example, begin as a 2D statement as an applied element and then be continued three-dimensionally in space, indicating the way, finally terminating as a 3D object representing the destination or a destination confirmation (see Morisawa Head Office, p. 130 /131; Tokyo Polytechnic University, p. 127). Departing from the level of information design by means of additional, applied elements, information can also be formed directly from or be integrated into the architecture, for example in the form of perforated facade claddings. Components such as daylight, night lighting or perspective effects can be deliberately used in order to generate the desired information and make it visible by means of incident lighting, graduated shading, hard cast shadows or distortion effects (see Eureka underground car park, p. 126). These elements can also change depending on the time of day. If material and message are understood as a single entity, this allows architecture and information to be integrated in a wide variety of ways. In every case the implementation requires that the building design and information design be coordi-

nated at an early stage (see Analysis and systematic specification of information requirements, p. 96 – 101).

Information technologies

Since the hardware of digital information technologies –monitors, LED walls, beamers etc. – usually involves products with their own design, in the past they have been integrated in conventional information carriers or building structures, housings and fixtures by means of supporting structures. To what extent formable hardware will be available in future for the representation of digital content will depend on technological developments.

Temporary guidance systems

Additional possibilities are available if guidance systems only need to last for a certain period or need to be flexibly changeable, as for conferences, festivals or art projects: for example, fabrics, banners, sleeves, wooden pallets or other objects and materials which can be used creatively for a limited period of use. They can be temporarily glued, stapled, fastened or clamped in place or even held in the hand (see SimTech Research Centre, University Stuttgart, p. 128; orientation systems for “Un Festival à Villeréal”, p. 128).

Ready-made information carriers

If costs, deadlines or other reasons prevent the use of signage specially designed for the project, use can be made of ready-made information carriers which are available on the market as standard products. Some of these are quite sophisticated and include product families which can be coordinated with the architecture. When choosing signage it should be ensured that these information carriers fit in well with the project, both in terms of design and functionally. In the Tokyo Polytechnic University, three-dimensional pictograms continue into the two-dimensional destination confirmation on the door. Signage: Hiromura Design

Left: In the newly developed smart surface BlingCrete, glass microspheres embedded in concrete reflect the ambient light, both by day and by night. Development: Heike Klussmann, Thorsten Klooster Right: In the Hypovereinsbank management headquarters building in Munich, stainless-steel guidance information is inlaid in in-situ terrazzo. This system is only suitable for information which does not need to be changed. Signage: büro uebele visuelle kommunikation



Analogue communication of information

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right: Variable elements can be used in the guidance system designed for the SimTech research centre at the University of Stuttgart , which can be used for both permanent and temporary information. The fixings are simply commercially available clip fittings into which the panels with the lettering are attached. Signage: L2M3 Kommunikationsdesign below left and middle: Materials such as Europallets, barrier tape and polystyrene remnants or cord are used as information carriers in the temporary orientation systems for “Un Festival à Villeréal” (left: 2010, middle: 2011). Signage: Wanja Ledowski – Studio below right: During the updating of the graphic appearance of the Museum for Applied Art in Frankfurt am Main, a temporary guidance system was applied with adhesive tape and felt tip pen which was intended to make the changes taking place in the museum visible. Signage: Vier5

Supplementary sources of information

Supplementary sources of information can either be planned as part of the overall concept or used to support guiding systems. Their function is to expand the signage if for various reasons the route layouts cannot be recognised or assumed, for example because physical disabilities restrict the user’s ability. To accommodate these cases it is possible to supplement the main information content with additional elements or, for example, to provide assistance personnel, particularly in the context of medical institutions or in locations with a high density of people such as major sporting events. Another aspect involves expanding the sources of information through the use of various communicative media in order to assist orientation.

Acoustic support

Acoustic signals and announcements can support certain aspects of orientation, and not just for the visually impaired. They address a different sense than the visual perception at which signage is most often aimed. They are used in lifts in the form of announcements with destination information as well as in information carriers, for example fixtures and furnishings which deliver an additional acoustic message which is triggered through sensors when people approach, and which in most cases supply supplementary information.

Printed products Printed information should be created in the context of corporate identity and signage and should incorporate the CI of a structure or of a company or the layout specifications derived from the orientation system. As brochures, handouts and flyers giving information in the form of layout plans showing locations and listing destination points, they assist users in finding their destinations. The structure of an orientation system and the content of the printed products must be consistent in terms of both content and structure in order to function. The information provided by the orientation system is reproduced in condensed form in print media or supplemented through detailed information. In combination with digital terminal devices, it can also be produced by the users themselves in the form of print-outs, such as layout overviews of shopping centres or orientation plans in complex structures such as hospitals, shopping centres or trade fairs.

Verbal information and assistance personnel As the first place to go for verbal information, reception and information desks are simple, functional elements of direct communication. The use of assistance personnel is one possible way of guiding people who are disabled or otherwise overchallenged by the usual sources of information in complex structures. These may be people who have difficulties with orientation in medical institutions or who don’t want to have to find their own way around in large hotel complexes. At the 2012 Olympic Games in London for example, guides were used in the area around the Olympic Park to provide personal information and give visual directions (see p. 54). Some German hospitals, for example, offer a service which is based on active citizenship: the “green ladies and gentlemen” who are firmly integrated into the routine of the hospital and accompany people to their destination. The boundaries between the accompanying function and other duties which go beyond the scope of signage, such as transporting luggage or providing psychological support, are often fluid. In future, projected hologram avatars could also take on tasks  performed by assistance personnel; relevant pilot projects have already been started at European and American airports.

Digital media Information is increasingly being processed, displayed or updated in digital form. A wide range of  digital means of communication is now available for this purpose, which not only support orientation but present expanded sources of information. A distinction should be made between sources of information which are placed or output locally and such media as can be loaded onto mobile terminal devices and used regardless of location. Local sources of information can, for example, be communicated, both acoustically as well as visually and interactively, with the aid of audio guides, monitors and touchscreens integrated in information points, free-standing panels or consoles. Mobile smart devices allow information to be accessed from anywhere over the internet,via apps and individual applications. They can, for example, reproduce orientation systems, act as museum guides or offer more extensive applications in the form of learning programs and games. The use of digital media with interactive communication is playing an increasingly important role within the spectrum of available signage media (see Digital communication of information, p. 136 – 143). The distinction between a user recognising guidance information on their own initiative and their making use of outside help with the aid of supplementary media can be fluid. It is possible to combine analogue, digital and supplementary media for this purpose.

Digital information terminals with print function which can be used from a sitting or standing position

Assistance personnel Holder for printed media

Information overview Acoustic support

Word marks and figurative marks Layout

Supplementary media support and expand orientation systems by compensating for deficits which restrict action or by offering information via additional media.


MORISAWA HEAD OFFICE OSAKA, J Signage: Hiromura Design Office, Tokyo

HEAD OFFICE Transition from 2D to 3D Numbers as sculptural objects

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Morisawa is the most influential Japanese font foundry, founded in 1948 as a firm specialising in phototype setting technology. Since the 1980s the company has concentrated primarily on the development of digital Japanese fonts. Its new headquarters building was deliberately developed as corporate architecture and integrates the company's own “Kohcho” font in the overall concept for the signage. The numbers for the floors are used in both two-dimensional and threedimensional form for the orientation system and serve as starting or end points for the guiding graphic elements. In a sense the figures on the floor represent the “shadows” of the three-dimensional forms growing out of the walls; on the stair landings these are also projected onto the ceiling. Thus, the concept uses all spatial dimensions for the optimal transmission of information. The chosen font features stronger and weaker lines, the dynamic pattern of which create its own visual accents. The three-dimensional execution transforms the numbers into sculptural objects. They are deliberately intended to encourage employees and visitors to reflect on the importance of symbols in society and are emblematic of the company.


The three-dimensional numbers for the different floors in the headquarters building are reminiscent of the lead type used in traditional printing presses.



90 A




LEIBNIZ INSTITUTE FOR BALTIC SEA RESEARCH WARNEMÜNDE, D Signage and architecture: KSV Krüger Schuberth Vandreike, Berlin

Elements running around corners as design idea Colour coding of buildings

The new building, situated in a prominent location between the spa gardens and the seafront promenade, provided an opportunity for the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research in Warnemünde (IOW) to update its corporate identity and, building on this, to also update the design of the institute’s information and orientation system. The orientation design which was developed colour-codes the new atrium structure as well as the two existing buildings – in the new building a bright green is used as a signal colour running through all the areas as well as the information system, with the main building being assigned a shade of yellow and the original villa a shade of blue. Anthracite-coloured waxed steel plates are used throughout for the key elements of the signage in all the buildings. They signal to the users in the heterogeneous complex of buildings that all the information necessary for orientation can be found here. The steel panels join up in the stairwell to form a communication strip providing information about the institute and its activities, introducing the staff as well as identifying areas of the buildings and rooms. The edges of the panels create surfaces where flyers and brochures can be placed. Unchanging information such as room descriptions are laser-cut into the steel plates. These fold around the corners of the rooms, emphasising the three-dimensional effect of the concept. Printed and magnetic foils make it possible to quickly update typography and graphics which, for example, show the institute’s current research results. In addition, screens are integrated in the metal panels, providing information on scientific topics, events or expeditions by the research ships.

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3 2 1 0


The theme of elements running around corners chosen for the architectural design is adopted and developed further in the signage.


PFALZBAU THEATRE LUDWIGSHAFEN, D Signage: Daniela Valentini, Zurich Architecture: wiesemann architekten, Cologne

THEATRE Typeface as a central theme Different character sizes for primary and secondary information

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The general renovation of the Pfalzbau complex with its theatre, concert and conference facilities which was carried out between 2006 and 2009 provided an opportunity to modernise the spatial layout as well as the aesthetic appearance of the triple-function complex, which was originally opened in 1968. The architectural design aimed at creating clarity and an easily accessible spatial order. The guidance system developed for this purpose helps visitors orient themselves and lends the architecture a graphic dimension through a striking use of lettering. Letters in two different sizes combine with the space and point in the described direction, supported by arrows. Starting out from their grouping on an orientation wall in the foyer, the primary lettering is distributed around the building in such a way that it makes a visual connection with the next location. The words, applied with the aid of stencils, are aligned flush with the base of the walls, overwriting building components such as ventilation louvres, as well as being applied to the undersides of stairs. Positioned at eye level, the smaller lettering communicating secondary information forms an informative horizon within the space and is only legible at close range. The typeface varies depending on the venue – theatre, concert hall or conference centre. The colouring of the lettering relates to the surrounding building components and in some cases echoes them.

The lettering is oriented on the space and indicates the direction in the line of sight, with or without arrows.

PFALZBAU On the undersides of the stairs the lettering shows the way to the various destinations within the building. The areas of use are each assigned different typefaces.


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Michael Schwanke-Seer

Digital communication of information

Digital signage refers to forms of signage which communicate information in digital form, especially via monitors. These usually involve networked visual systems with content which can either be program-controlled or compiled manually. This requires a combination of presentation technology and software as well as various network components. The market for digital signage experienced a significant boom in German-speaking countries in 2010, with a growth of 21 % as shown by a study conducted by corporate consultants Invidis Consulting. According to this study, “Digital signage is a complex communication product with both a technical side and a creative side. Or put simply: technology meets communication.”1 The main applications for digital signage are in guest information systems (GIS), employee information systems and digital advertising. It makes use of modern communication instruments such as displays or screens, depending on the complexity of the content which needs to be presented. The available technologies and their state of development are of particular importance since these represent the instruments of modern signage.

Projection surfaces

One of the most important, but above all one of the most conspicuous components of digital signage are monitors, which are available in a wide variety of designs and sizes. However, other types of projection surface also play an important role in digital signage.

Monitors Today monitors are frequently used at events in place of printed (and thus unchangeable) information and route descriptions. In most cases these involve displays which are clearly laid-out and which direct congress participants or students to the relevant venue, with electronic signs at the entrance doors describing the event taking place within. Monitors offer numerous advantages in comparison with fixed signage. They can be adapted to their surroundings, their layout can be designed flexibly and they allow different types of information and formats to be displayed. Integrated into the wall, suspended or as free-standing display panels, they represent a contemporary form of presentation for information (see Museum of Arts and Design, p. 137; Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, p. 144/145). Monitors are used in completely self-contained systems for directional guidance, as information boards and for advertising. They can be used individually or combined in an array to form a video wall. As a rule, narrow or slim bezel LCD monitors are used for this purpose: these possess a particularly narrow moulding frame in order to provide the most continuous picture possible. Technically, the majority of monitors are based on an LCD panel, although the trend is clearly in the direction of LED monitors. LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display, LED stands for Light-Emitting Diode and is regarded as a particularly energyefficient technology, which leads to significantly lower energy costs, particularly where a large number of displays are used.

LED walls Pure LED walls are very suitable in particular for outdoor use, because they are distinguished by their great brightness, which can prevail even in bright sunlight (see Stücki shopping centre, p. 138). In most cases such walls are found in stadia or are used as large information panels at train stations and airports. In these cases the image is created through the configuration of LEDs and not by one or more displays. Projecting components

Projecting components include traditional projectors. Although these offer the advantage of being able to project an image of an adjustable size, they do suffer from a number of disadvantages. On the one hand, the running costs are relatively high, since bulbs need to be regularly replaced; LED technology is currently mostly used for small projectors. On the other hand, in addition to the need to check dust filters regularly the devices require a continuous air supply, which often makes them noisy in operation. Finally, it is essential to keep wall spaces free for projection, and light levels in the surrounding area must be kept low in order for the projected image to appear bright. Projectors with up to 15 000 ANSI lumens are used principally in public areas like train stations, in halls with large areas of wall and also for mass events such as open-air screenings. The luminous flux states the light output in lumens, the ANSI lumens unit additionally takes into consideration the differences in brightness in the picture. The more ANSI lumens a projector has, the more brightly it illuminates. Projectors with 3000–5000 ANSI lumens, which as a rule offer good brightness combined with good contrast, are frequently used in conference rooms with typical levels of daylight and without

direct sunlight. Images of up to 4.5 m (diagonal) are usually acheived. In dark spaces or spaces with low levels of daylight, high contrast is important. As long as the room is dark, good results can be achieved with light outputs of 1500 to 2500 ANSI lumens. However, in museums for example, a bright, high-contrast picture is required despite the surrounding area being illuminated. In this case, projectors with at least 10 000 ANSI lumens are used (devices with up to 30 000 ANSI lumens are available), with image diagonals of 7 m and more. Technologies such as LCD projectors and 1- or 3-chip DLP projectors have proved suitable for this purpose. Digital Light Processing (DLP) refers to a special projection technology which, in contrast to conventional technologies, projects a very sharp image onto a screen. In terms of projection methods, a distinction is made between rear and frontal projection. The advantages of rear projection, in which the images are projected onto the projection surface from behind, are obvious: the image cannot be interrupted by people walking past the screen, and the source of the picture cannot be seen. This technique has proved particularly advantageous in brighter room environments. The screen needs to be translucent for this purpose. One particular disadvantage is that sufficient space needs to be available behind the projection surface. This in turn argues in favour of frontal projection, which does not require any space behind the screen; it is also possible to project directly onto a wall. However, with this method the cone of light from the projection is visible, and people passing in front of the projection path interfere with the picture. Also, with this type of projection the surrounding area needs to be dark, since with high levels of stray light the contrast becomes poorer and the image quality deteriorates.

Dynamic content is displayed on monitors in the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. Media installation: Lisa Strausfeld, Pentagram Design


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Digital communication of information

The upper parts of the towers of the Stücki shopping centre in Basel are equipped with 15-metre-high LED panels which broadcast illuminated messages with changing content – patterns, text and images – on two sides of the facade. Architecture: Diener & Diener, lighting and media design: iart

Digital technologies

A wide range of digital technologies is now available. Displays are available in a variety of different forms, with display diagonals ranging from 5 to 152 inches. Whether as LCD, LED or plasma screen, virtually anything is feasible nowadays. The displays differ primarily in the technology used to produce the image. Whereas in plasma screens a gas is used which turns to plasma and emits light when current is  applied, in LCDs the illumination is provided by a fluorescent light source. This is replaced in LED models by LED backlighting. LCD and LED displays are only available up to a maximum size of 108 inches, with plasma screens being used for larger areas. LCD and DLP projectors, LCD displays with cold-cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) backlights and plasma models are already today certified 24/7, i.e. they are designed to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. LCDs with LED backlight have not so far received 24/7 certification due to lack of test data. Their service life is currently on average 30,000 hours, that is to say in 24/7 use the display would have reached the end of its service life after three and a half years. As a rule, the displays are currently assumed to have a service life of five years, which gives LED backlight displays a limited period of use per day (12/7 or a maximum of 16/7).

Interactive technologies

Interactive displays (touchscreen displays) are used to support existing signage or information systems. A distinction is made between single, dual and multi-touch monitors, i.e. ones designed to be touched with one or two fingers and ones in which up to 32 points can be operated on the display at once. Such solutions are increasingly being used in facilities such as museums (see Museum of Arts and Design, p. 140), shopping centres, train stations, furniture

stores and department stores, where they represent a welcome added value for visitors and customers. Thus, in the case of an information display the key question is above all “Where do I find this?”, whereas a signage system tends to provide the answer to “How do I get there?”. Special solutions can, for example, be used to configure a product for navigation purposes or for the user-friendly electronic control of complex systems as well as processes in kitchens, and are in fact increasingly being used for these purposes. However, not only large companies but also institutions such as schools are increasingly making use of electronic aids.

Positioning technologies

Positioning technologies offer various possibilities with the aid of which people or buildings can be located (tracked) in space. These include, for example, satellite-supported positioning, video surveillance or the evaluation of telephonic and digital transmissions.

Positioning technology in buildings In buildings, positioning technologies are used for quite different applications. They can fulfil a variety of purposes, such as locating calls for assistance from patients, old people or employees in  hazardous areas or for indoor navigation as expanded components of a route signage system (see Alexandrium Woonmall, p. 142). Such applications are often referred to as RTLS (Real Time Location Systems) or LBS (Location Based Services). They are used successfully in sectors such as healthcare, industry and retail. In contrast, their use for directional guidance has not yet progressed very far, for a number of reasons. The main problem here is, in particular, the provision and collection of corresponding (costly) terminal devices. Above all, the return of smart devices only works well in places with “bottleneck geometries”, which currently is almost exclu-

sively in museums. The further development and operation of such systems could therefore, under certain circumstances, also have effects on the architectural conception of such buildings. Since GPS does not function reliably inside buildings and is not accurate enough to position according to floor or room, location-based systems are used here (WLAN, RFID, DECT, ultrasound, infrared, induction loops etc.). These technologies differ significantly in the way they function. Parameters such as positioning accuracy, real-time behaviour, additional communication possibilities, installation and cabling costs, infrastructure costs, requirements with regard to the terminal devices which are to be tracked etc. need to be taken into consideration. Another important criterion is whether the technology simply identifies a tracking object at specific locations or logs it when it passes through certain gates or doors, or whether it actually allows full-coverage real-time tracking which if necessary also covers large halls or outdoor areas. In recent years, WLAN has increasingly become established as a suitable standard for positioning in buildings. It is already present today in many buildings or is being planned and installed in new buildings in order to meet current communication requirements (intranet and internet access, IP telephony, multimedia etc.). Thus, where WLAN is installed, all the other infrastructure costs and installation and cabling costs referred to above are unnecessary, which makes it comparatively economical and simple to install a positioning system simply as a software solution. However, additional WLAN

base stations (access points) need to be added depending on the requirements in terms of positioning accuracy and the configuration of the existing WLAN. In the case of other technologies, in addition to the actual infrastructure for positioning, WLAN or mobile radio communication is required in addition in order to allow the necessary intranet or internet applications to be used on a smartphone. However, in order to achieve the necessary positioning accuracy (to the exact floor and to within 1 to 3 metres in the horizontal plane) it is not sufficient to determine the base station to which a WLAN terminal device (for example a smartphone) is logged on. Nor can the necessary accuracy be achieved through a triangulation of the field strengths measured between the terminal device and several base stations, since building structures and their properties are not taken into account. This can only be achieved through a combination of intelligent mathematical algorithms and a positioning model which takes into account the building structures. With this socalled RSSI fingerprinting method with WLAN site survey and rail-tracking technology, during the course of a site survey the actual field strengths (RSSI values) of all base stations are measured by means of a tablet PC and automatically stored as fingerprints of the radio field on the floor plans of the building. In addition, permitted routes and transitions can be defined on the floor plans by means of so-called rails. In a similar way to in-car navigation, which is based on a roadmap, this allows illogical positioning results to be filtered out, for example where the indicated location would be floating in

The central hall of the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House in Dallas, USA features a 20-metre-long curved and backlit screen wall with letters formed of LEDs. Architecture: Foster + Partners, signage: 2×4



Digital communication of information

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Interactive touchscreen in the Museum of Arts and Design, New York. Design: Pentagram Design

front of the third floor, in the middle of a wall or machine, or would involve passing through walls and floors. Such an appropriate WLAN and positioning model is then available for the positioning of numerous WLAN clients (smartphones, barcode scanners, RFID scanners, laptops, tablet PCs and special WLAN tags) and thus of any persons or devices. Naturally, the protection of privacy is very important. It should not be possible to locate just any WLAN terminal devices, only those which are specifically intended for this purpose. For some applications, for example navigation within buildings, it is sufficient if the location data are only available on the terminal device. For others, it can also be necessary to release these for central analysis or to specific recipients (for example, an emergency alarm). In each case, clear and transparent rules must apply to the access rights and possible storage of data.

Navigation on mobile phones A number of companies also produce navigation systems for mobile phone browsers. The advantage of web-based applications is that it is not necessary to install an app, and all smartphones are supported with internet access. In so-called kiosk systems – permanently-installed computer systems in public spaces – following each animation a TinyURL for entry in the mobile browser is displayed together with a QR code. The user scans the QR code with the QR code reader, opening the animation which has just been watched on their smartphone. The QR codes can be displayed at

entrances as well as heavily frequented locations in buildings (see p. 141). Scanning the code opens the building-specific mobile portal and the user only needs to select the desired destination in order to open the 3D sequence on their mobile device. Such navigation systems are used predominantly in public buildings such as shopping centres, airports or railway stations, but also in hospitals, hotels, universities, at trade fairs, in theme parks and museums.

Available software

In order to transfer information to the corresponding display media, software specially developed for this purpose is required: a special digital signage program. Since the late 1990s, rapid development has been taking place, so that the individual programs are continually being further optimised in order to adapt to the special requirements of the market. One piece of software which has become established for over a decade is editIT / playIT, which serves here as an example of programs with a similar functional background. It is used particularly often for room booking and directional orientation as well as being used as an information and advertising system. The editIT editing system is used to manage content such as player content lists and screen division; it creates and edits playing schedules and makes the text-based scheduling of dates possible via the calendar. The playIT player software plays the content on the screens and door signs. The corresponding data are stored on the central server system and


Outdoor positioning


Flexible IP communication options

Full coverage positioning

Positioning even without direct line of sight

Infrastructure often already present or planned for other applications

Also available for standard smart phones etc.

• •

RFID (active)







Indoor positioning

Passage monitoring at doors etc.

RFID (passive)

• •

Comparison of different positioning technologies

A smartphone application provides information on less wellknown locations outside of the city centre of Amsterdam by means of conspicuous symbols at the location in question and linking via QR codes. Development and realisation: Amsterdam Tourism and Congress Board (ATCB) with Edenspiekermann

are transported via the network on demand. In order to generate precisely timed playing schedules, the date, time, content and length of the content are exactly recorded. The data can be transmitted either by LAN or WLAN. A log file is created in order to fulfil legal documentation requirements. When it comes to display options, almost anything is possible: the software is suitable for playing a wide range of file formats, whether content intended for directional guidance, images, presentations or even films. Further important functions of the software include the administration of the display media, the control of the content as well as fully automated playback. In addition, data from external systems, such as RSS feeds or weather reports, can be integrated into the program via the interfaces and links can be created to other programs relevant to the company. The features of the Windows-based editIT software also include email notification if the station fails, real-time monitoring of data transmission, categorisation of player content according to key words as well as the possibility of transmitting content selectively at a particular time of day or to individual players. The user sends these via the network to the server, which distributes them to the control units of the player devices; the playIT player software is installed on these, which makes it possible to pre-load the player contents virtually.



Digital communication of information

Using positioning technology, a 3D indoor navigation system with routing function, level overviews and shop descriptions guides visitors to the Alexandrium Woonmall in Rotterdam around over 70 shops and service providers. Programming: 3d-berlin

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Application scenarios

Digital signage programs are used in various fields for quite different applications. At trade fairs for example, the screens serve the purpose of orientation, but in conference applications they can also function as digital door signs. At airports or railways stations, digital signs display train and flight connections, in museums they inform visitors about ticket prices and provide detailed background information on exhibits. Digital signage systems are used as a directional guidance and information platform in hospitals or banks, as a digital blackboard in schools, or as a digital menu in canteens and restaurants.

Hotels and conference centres In guest information systems, digital signage software serves as a visitor orientation system and provides information on the current room occupancy. It provides both guests and employees with an overview of the current events calendar and can be used as an advertising platform for events and products. Used as door signage, in addition to providing details of the event, logos can be displayed on digital panels together with the duration of the event. The panels can be integrated anywhere; they can be situated in the lobby as well as in the conference area. They can also be used in lifts. The digital monitors can readily be adapted to the interior and design of the building. Industry Digital signage also has industrial applications. Here, the technology is not only used as a signage system for visitors but also allows more effective internal communication. For example, Lufthansa Cargo has been using digital signage for several years. More than 1300 employees of the Lufthansa Cargo Centre in Frankfurt are kept informed of what's happening within their company on sixteen 40-inch digital

screens. The monitors are intended mainly for employees in production who have no access to a computer and thus no access to the intranet. For example, changes in the production processes, project information as well as information about the industry, company and division are communicated via the screens in the cargo hall, as is information on exceptional situations, for example under- and overcapacities or bad weather. The weekly publication of numbers, data and facts also contributes to employee motivation, since this makes the results of the employees' own work more transparent. Customer information in the form of slideshows or events and meetings taking place within the company are also communicated via the monitors.

Future developments

What does the digital future hold? Current developments in the digital market are advancing at a rapid pace, which is astounding even experienced specialists in the field. One very important aspect here is “green technology”.

Green IT

In addition to an innovative approach, future technologies also need to fulfil sustainability criteria. After all, the environmental aspect and consequently the buzzword “green IT” is playing an increasingly prominent role in today's society. Industry experts believe that, in terms of technology, a turning point has been reached with regard to high-consumption technologies. For example, they expect to see long-service-life, low-maintenance LED projectors coming into use in the future. As regards displays, increasing use is being made of OLEDs, not just because of their energy-saving potential but also because of the design potential they offer. Even today there are displays which use LEDs for background illumination, achieving an energy saving of up to 30 %. However, a distinction must be made here between dis-

plays using D-LEDs (Direct LEDs), in which the light source is located directly behind the actual display, and ones using E-LEDs (Edge LEDs), i.e. in which the LEDs illuminate the display from the edge. Digital door signs with low energy consumption, LED, LCD or OLED technology in large format displays and LED technology in projectors are other new technical developments which are increasingly coming into use. The advantages here lie, on the one hand, in the low energy consumption in running operation and, on the other hand, significantly fewer hazardous substances are required for their production.


OLED stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode. This technology possesses various advantages in comparison with conventional LED display technology. Not only are OLEDs thinner and brighter than LEDs, they also make possible higher contrast and a thousand times faster response rate. Industry insiders are convinced that this technology will sooner or later squeeze all other forms of display out of the market. OLED technology can also be applied in the form of thin foils which can be used like wallpaper and thus offer versatile and flexible display and projection solutions.

Interactive technology In the field of interactive technology, a lot of effort is currently being invested in the development of touch-free solutions. The most common disadvantage of today's touchscreen displays is the way the surface becomes dirty through continual use. Frequent use leaves finger marks which are unpleasant not only for the operator, but even more so for the user. The alternative would be a functional principle controlled through movement, without any contact. These movements are registered by a camera, processed and converted into the desired functions, so that the command can be executed as with a touchscreen display. Another possibility involves the installation of movement sensors in the surrounding floor and ceiling. These also detect movements and transfer them to the display. In some cases facial expressions and gestures can also be transmitted in this way, allowing the user to control the technology with their eyes, so to speak. Interactions with screens facilitate the explanation of systems or facilities, since the users can control the information themselves, automatically directing their attention to what interests them. In this way, things can be explained graphically, with the content changing interactively. This allows a simple representation of content which is easier to understand. For example, companies which allow visitors access to their production plants explain the functions of their machinery interactively using touchscreen monitors. Visitors can select the language in which the explanations are provided via headphones. Overall, a clear trend towards interaction can be observed, and consequently development is increasingly leading towards interactive screens and their interactive control via an increasingly diverse range of interfaces. 1 Invidis Consulting (Eds.): Dossier on the Digital Signage Market 2010. Germany – Austria – Switzerland. Digital Signage Professionell 08/2011

Left: according to designer Mac Funamizu, nobody will need to ask the way in future. Viewed through the “Looking Glass”, reality and the virtual world merge together; the view through the device makes comments visible in the public space. Any particular location or object can be matched with the information available on the internet. Right: New technologies for completely contact-free interaction which are currently being developed make the three-dimensional communication of information possible. Users can both see in 3D and interact three-dimensionally, without having to wear additional aids such as glasses or data gloves. Gesture-controlled information systems which react simply to pointing are possible, as is, for example, the contact-free control of medical applications. Development: Fraunhofer Heinrich-Hertz-Institut




Signage: Bosco, Valencia Architecture: Santiago Calatrava, Zurich

Formally independent signage Combination of static and dynamic information

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The “City of Arts and Sciences”, as the cultural centre is named, combines an opera house, a 3D cinema, a science museum and Europe’s largest aquarium. The information system on the site is embedded in a formally independent way in the extroverted formal language of the architecture and represents a combination of static and dynamic signage. White, black and grey are the key colours used in the design; this low-key colour scheme places the focus on the communication of content. All digital information and orientation elements are framed in black panels, so that they are easy to locate within the white building. The chosen typeface is Helvetica Neue Condensed, which due to its narrow font width also allows larger quantities of text to be integrated. Digital screens are used both for the presentation of information, such as that on exhibitions and ticket prices, as well as for directional guidance and advertising purposes. This means that the content of the presentations can be readily adapted as required to incorporate new exhibitions, themes and events. The laser-cut pictograms and room descriptions are applied directly to walls and carrier materials. The trilingual information is differentiated through the use of different font styles (thin, regular, bold).

Digital screens communicate information such as ticket prices and the scheduling of events.




VIENNA AIRPORT CHECK-IN 3 VIENNA, A Signage: Intégral Ruedi Baur, Paris/Zurich Architecture: ARGE Itten Brechbühl, Bern; B & E Baumschlager Eberle, Vienna

Clear formal language Transparency Innovative information carriers

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The passenger signage in the terminal extension at Vienna airport – the first communicative contact which visitors have with the country on arrival – was planned in close coordination with the architecture and integrated into its design at a very early stage. The aim was to create a calm atmosphere and a balanced overall picture without undue visual interference; technical details were deliberately concealed. In their translucence, the apparently “dematerialised” information carriers reflect the vocabulary of the architectural design and at the same time are intended to evoke the gravity-defying lightness of an aircraft taking off. The choice of typeface and proportions of the lettering, as well as the lighting and colour scheme, are intended to facilitate orientation for an international public. The visual language builds on the Fedraa Sans typeface designed by the Slovenian typographer Peter Biľak and is used both in the orientation and signage system and in the printed products produced for the airport. Special internationally comprehensible symbols were developed for the pictograms. All components of the communication of information such as directions, identification, information points, dynamic information on departures and arrivals, overview plans, safety signs and advertising spaces are integrated in the overall concept and coordinated. This gives the signage an identity and radiates calm and harmony.

The arrivals board with dynamic illuminated LED lettering on a translucent white glass wall has an innovative appearance.

NNA AIRPORT Minimalism and clarity facilitate orientation in this complex building with its high volume of passengers.

Transparency, light and shade, along with the grid-like structure, give the clearly designed orientation system a light, poetic expression.

Guiding components and destination confirmations – in this case, the gate information – are visually distinguished from one another.


BRÜHLTOR-PASSAGE ST. GALLEN, CH Signage: Inform, Rorschach, Felix Hartmann Architecture: Locher & Meier Architekten, St. Gallen

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The corporate identity of the city of St. Gallen would have required red arrows, but green arrows were chosen due to their better legibility for the visually impaired. The lettering is in white for maximum contrast with the background.


¨ BRUHLTORSignage without carrier media Light projection

The gallery-like underpass, built in the 1970s and forming an important access route to the old city centre of St. Gallen, has been thoroughly renovated. The simplified floor plan layout with widened passages and straightened shop fronts now facilitates orientation. The new name, Brühltor-Passage, can be read clearly at all four exits. In order to avoid compromising its aesthetics with signage elements, the designers looked for a way of realising the information system without the use of carrier media. To this end they use gobo (graphical optical blackout) projectors, which use inserted slides to project text and arrows onto the floor. All information points at which there is a choice of several routes are defined beforehand; at these points gobo projectors mounted on the ceiling project destination information onto the grey granite flooring in coordination with the lighting concept. In these blocks of words, more distant destinations are always shown at the top, with nearer ones listed below; the direction is indicated by arrows. The system is highly adaptable – if the information changes, only the slide needs to be replaced.


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Torsten Krüger

Epilogue – The iconography of the third millennium

Symbols, language, writing

Human development is closely linked with the evolution of language. The association of meanings with sounds gave rise to a generally understood system of communication which became the basis for human social relationships and the division of labour. The process of linguistic evolution took place over millennia. The different geographical and ancestral influences produced innumerable language groups and dialects; rapid communication between fundamentally different languages was not possible. Simple gestures and symbols therefore form the basis for a universally understandable signage. Showing open hands, for example, symbolises that the visitor is not coming with hostile intent. Cave paintings, ancient graffiti, sculptures and articles of everyday use which have survived through the ages show clear forms and colours reduced to simple meanings which we can still understand today. The abstraction of the subject represented is an ubiquitous feature, as is the development of a formal and expressive canon which reflects the cultural context of the society of that time as well as its interactions with other cultures. Abstraction and the repetition of inherited patterns represent the beginnings of human communication and culture. Letters and words, numbers and symbols are used to encode information in signage. In order to make it possible for the information to be universally interpreted and understood, these elements are standardised and abstracted. Our ability to combine different forms of information has given rise to corresponding design principles. The system of numbers in general use today, which was developed by Indian scholars and brought to Europe by the Arabs, consisting of a total of  ten symbols which can be combined to represent an infinitely higher number of values, is one of the most successful symbol systems of all time. Without this abstraction, the rep-

resentation of numbers would be significantly more complicated today. The digital age of computer technology has made it possible, using binary code, to reduce the number of elements required in order to represent complex content to two. Arranged in different sequences, the numbers 0 and 1 encode both our everyday life, with its profusion of digital devices, and our communication with other people and groups.

Global networking

As users, we are probably just at the beginning of a paradigm shift which is influenced by the possibilities offered by computer technology and the internet, and which is already being taken into consideration in the development of new technical systems. Modern life is dominated by analogue and digital technologies used for communicating information. The opportunities and applications opened up by new technologies are innumerable. Digital hardware and software based on internationally harmonised standards are being used for the planning and design of information and orientation systems, interior design and architecture. This makes it technically unproblematic to integrate the specialist  discipline of signage into all phases of an architecture project. Due to the global dissemination of creative and technical concepts and the harmonisation of standards and legal regulations, more and more standards for the planning of architecture and signage have become established in recent years. In addition, numerous design philosophies exist on the basis of which holistic multidisciplinary signage concepts are developed, taking into consideration separate formal and design solutions. This makes it possible to tailor buildings, as  a product, to the globally converging interests of clients. A headquarters building in China, a shopping centre in Germany, an airport in the USA or a stadium in South Africa – each

of these could equally well be located in other parts of the world. The local influence of inherited cultural elements is diminishing. In contrast, most projects are assigned a clear marketing and communication concept which – developed visually on the basis of international standards – encourages an individual perception of the building. Signage represents a key component of the brand image of building.

Signage as an interface

The trendsetters in architecture and signage are often small, unconventional projects which transcend the boundaries of the conventional with surprising, inspiring solutions. However, the most multilayered challenge within the genre involves brand-staging projects which subordinate the architecture, design and communication most strictly to a central idea. These succeed when the individual disciplines are given the scope to express themselves and the corporate identity is not interpreted as a straitjacket. Anyone who repeats tried and tested solutions too often quickly loses touch with the market. Architects and designers who reduce signage to aspects such as orientation are missing out on an opportunity to take architecture and design conceptually a step further. An entrepreneur who, for example, associates the development of a new signage system with the evolution of the company, its products and its employees secures their competitiveness. It is taken for granted that an innovative architectural concept will stand out as an iconographic symbol in the urban structure. This can be linked with an exciting signage concept which has a key influence on the mood and atmosphere of a building. The architecture reflects the elements of the programme as well as the functional structure of a building and defines the relationships between principal circulation routes. The interior design expresses the directly perceptible interface between users and building; in addition, signage performs the function of informing the users, providing orientation and guiding them through the space. All disciplines involved in the design process therefore benefit from the participation of the client in the design and through this consultation process reflect the essence of the architecture and the brand. Signage demands that consideration be given to the most efficient structure, the clearest orientation. It informs visitors and through its link to the corporate identity makes a statement about the positioning of the user of the building on the market. Architecture, design and signage are key elements of a successful urban development, transport or building concept and are inextricably linked to it.

Sustainable solutions

Sustainability requires integrative concepts which solve functional dependencies with minimal complexity and which, in terms of their signage, develop a long-term communicative strategy which can readily adapt to changes in processes, routes and content over its lifespan. Investments in signage pay for themselves and enable a positive return. In signage too, the guiding principle “less is more” highlights the necessity of communicating complex subjects simply and clearly. This is a prerequisite for rapid and clear orientation and information. Since the technical revolution, our living and working environment has changed significantly due to the widespread use of digital products and the internet. Numerous research and development projects will mean a continuous learning process in terms of the way we view architecture, design and signage. At the same time, we will continue to develop tried and tested approaches. The way we handle information will continue to change through the use of new technologies, as well as the design of new graphic user interfaces and semantic networks with interactive options. This is the iconography of the third millennium.




Project data


Standards, guidelines, regulations




Photo credits









Project data



Client: Katta Civic Polyclinic, Tokyo Signage: Hara Design Institute, Tokyo, Kenya Hara Designer: Yuji Koiso Materials: linoleum Completed: 2002

Client: City of Sydney Signage: Collider, Sydney, Andrew van der Westhuyzen, Clemens Habicht Architecture: FJMT Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp, Sydney Materials: Corian, wood, enamel Typeface: Swiss Bold Completed: 2009 [email protected] [email protected] [email protected]

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Client: City of Chemnitz, Municipal Department of Works Signage: Gourdin & Müller, Leipzig/Hamburg Designer: Katharina Seitz Materials: paint, film Typeface: modified Avenir Completed: 2010

Client: City of Cape Town, spv 2010 Signage: Büro für Gestaltung Wangler & Abele, Munich Architecture: gmp · Architekten von Gerkan, Marg and Partners, Berlin, in collaboration with Louis Karol Architects, Point Architects, Cape Town Lighting design: conceptlicht GmbH, Traunstein; Arcus Gibb Consulting Engineers, Cape Town Materials: aluminium Typeface: ITC Franklin Gothic Completed: 2010 [email protected] [email protected] [email protected]




Client: Multi Development Czech Republic a.s. Signage: Gourdin & Müller, Leipzig/ Hamburg Designers: Daniel Perraudin, Felix Wissing Architecture: OMA, Rotterdam (design concept); Floris Alkemade Architect; Heinrich Böll, Essen; T + T Design Materials: acrylic, LEDs Typeface: Neutraface Completed: 2012

Client: Studentenwerk München Signage: design stauss grillmeier, Munich Architecture: ARGE Werner Wirsing bogevischs buero, Munich Landscape architecture: Keller Damm Roser Landschaftsarchitekten Stadtplaner GmbH, Munich Materials: aluminium sheeting Typeface: Univers 55 Completed: 2010

Client: Senzoku Gakuen College of Music, Kawasaki Signage: Teradadesign Architects, Tokyo, Naoki Terada Designer: Masatoshi Horii Architecture: Nihon Sekkei, Tokyo Area: 1481 m2 Completed: 2009 [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected]




Client: Flughafen Berlin-Schönefeld GmbH (FSB); since 2012 Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH (FBB) Signage: Moniteurs Kommunikationsdesign, Berlin Architecture: gmp · Architekten von Gerkan, Marg and Partners, Berlin; JSK International, Frankfurt am Main Lighting design: conceptlicht GmbH, Traunreut Completed: 2013

Client: The Cooper Union for Advancement of Science and Art, New York Signage: Pentagram Design, New York Designers: Abbott Miller, Jeremy Hoffman, Brian Ravon, Susan Brzozowski Architecture: Morphosis Architects, Santa Monica, Thom Mayne, Silvia Kuhle Lighting design: Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design Inc., New York Materials: stainless steel, etched glass, granite Typeface: Foundry Gridnik Completed: 2009

Client: Autonomous Province of Bolzano / Bozen, South Tyrol Signage: Tomato, London Architecture, interior design: KSV Krüger Schubert Vandreike, Berlin Lighting design: LichtVision, Berlin Materials: magnets, wood Typeface: Lubalin, Futura Area: 8370 m2 Completed: 2008 in[email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected]


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Project data



Client: Cubic Cooperation Limited, Tokyo Overall concept and product design: Fumie Shibata, Tokyo Signage: Hiromura Design Office, Tokyo, Masaaki Hiromura Architecture and structural design: Sigma Architectural Design, Kyoto Interior design: Takaaki Nakamura, Tokyo Lighting design: Panasonic Denko, Tokyo Completed: 2009

Client: adidas AG, Herzogenaurach Signage: büro uebele visuelle kommunikation, Stuttgart, Carolin Himmel (project management), Andreas Uebele Architecture: kadawittfeldarchitektur GmbH, Aachen Interior design: ZieglerBürg Büro für Gestaltung, Stuttgart, Mia Kreil, Diane Ziegler Materials: glass, highly-reflective film, steel tubing Typeface: adihaus Area: 62 000 m2 Completed: 2011 [email protected] [email protected] i[email protected] [email protected]



Client: Children Enterprise (UK) Ltd. Signage: Didelidi studio, Beijing Designers: Lulu, Mingtian Architecture: crossboundaries architects, Beijing Architects: Hao Dong, Binke Lenhardt, Feng Zheng, Fang Wang, Giacomo Butte, Shanyun Huang Lighting design: BIAD lighting studio Materials: felt Area: 5625 m2 Completed: 2009/2012

Client: Amelia Asset 1 B.V. Signage: quandel design und kommunikation, Frankfurt am Main Art Direction: Marcel Staudt Architecture: MMZ Architekten GmbH, Frankfurt am Main Project management: Sarah Wille Lighting design: AH Ingenieurgesellschaft für Elektrotechnik, Mainz Materials: emulsion, latex and marking paint, stencils, film decals Typeface: DIN Area: 9500 m2 Completed: 2010 stud[email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected]




Client: LBBW Immobilien Development GmbH, Stuttgart Signage: Intégral Ruedi Baur, Zurich Project management: Ruedi Baur, Axel Steinberger, Eva Plass, Daniela Valentini Graphic design: Jan-Eric Stephan, Jana Strozinsky, Claudia Wildermuth Architecture: Allmann Sattler Wappner Architekten, Munich Lighting design: Schmidt König Lichtdesign, Munich Materials: ceramic printed glass, oxidised or coated aluminium, films, screen-printing Typeface: VialogLT Area: 18 000 m2 Completed: 2011

Client: Communauté Urbaine de Strasbourg Signage: Intégral Ruedi Baur, Paris Project team: Ruedi Baur, Eva Kubinyi, Simon Burkart, Wanja Ledowski, Thibault Fourrier (text research), in collaboration with Akatre Architecture: Jean Marc Ibos, Myrto Vitart, Paris Materials: screen-printing, stencilled lettering Area: 18 000 m2 Completed: 2008

Client: Municipality of Holon Signage: Adi Stern Design, Jerusalem Architecture: Ron Arad Architects, London Completed: 2010 [email protected]

[email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected]




Client: Municipality of Tschagguns Signage: Sigi Ramoser, Sägenvier DesignKommunikation, Dornbirn Architecture: Lang Vonier Architekten ZT GmbH, Göfis Materials: silver-coloured satinised film, metal Typeface: Parable Area: 590 m2 Completed: 2008

Awarding authority: State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Client: University Hospital Greifswald Signage: Beate Kling Architekten, Berlin Designers: Beatrice Vollmer, Susanne Augustin Architecture: Arkitekter Dall & Linhardtsen A/S, Helsingør; HWP Planungsgesellschaft mbH, Stuttgart Materials: steel, powder-coated aluminium profile, film lettering, film decals Typeface: Helvetica Condensed Area: 85 323 m2 Completed: 2011/2012

Client: Migros Aare Signage: L2M3 Kommunikationsdesign GmbH, Stuttgart Architecture: Architekt Daniel Libeskind AG, Zurich Materials: matt-painted plastic, polished stainless steel Typeface: AF Module Completed: 2008 [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected]


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Project data



Client: Haitai Real Estate Signage: ujidesign, Tokyo Architecture: A-ASTERISK, Shanghai, Nobuhiro Nakamura; A-I-SHA architects, Shanghai, Tsutomu Fujioka Lighting design: Masahide Kakudate Lighting Architect & Associates, Tokyo Materials: white artificial marble, quartz sand, silk Typeface: DIN Area: 4400 m2 Completed: 2006

Client: OFB Projektentwicklung GmbH, Frankfurt am Main Signage: unit-design, Frankfurt am Main Designers: Bernd Hilpert, Peter Eckart, Robert Cristinetti, Sabrina Flegel Architecture: Meixner Schlüter Wendt Architekten, Frankfurt am Main Designers: José Ortells, Nina Kreiter, Antje Feenders Materials: stencilling, film decals, rear-printed glass panels for light boxes Typeface: Thesis Sans Completed: 2009 [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected]



Client: State of MecklenburgVorpommern Signage, architecture and interior design: KSV Krüger Schubert Vandreike, Berlin Material: steel Typeface: Meta Plus Area: 2030 m2 Completed: 2008

Client: City of Ludwigshafen Signage: Daniela Valentini, Zurich Architecture: wiesemann architekten, Cologne Project management: Meike Elzer, Verena Keulen Designers: Elisa Goal, Susanne Janson, Susanne Kreuder, Marcus Schwarz Lighting design: Bastgen + Strobl, Mülheim Materials: solid aluminium painted in three degrees of gloss, paint applied by screen-printing and stencilling Typeface: Reykjavik Two B Gauge, Reykjavik One C Gauge, Reykjavik One A Gauge Area: 17 000 m2 Completed: 2009 [email protected] [email protected] [email protected]




Client: Nagasaki Prefectural Government Signage: Hara Design Institute, Tokyo, Kenya Hara Designer: Yoshiaki Irobe Motion Graphic: Hiroyuki Saito Architecture: Kengo Kuma & Associates, Tokyo Completed: 2005

Client: ETH Immobilien, Building Department, Zurich Signage: TGG Hafen Senn Stieger, St. Gallen Architecture: Dietrich | Untertrifaller | Stäheli Architekten, Bregenz Team: Peter Nussbaumer (project management), Bernhard Kraft, Dietmar Geiselmann, Doris Tahedl, Eva Dorn, Raffael Grups, Nina Sulger, Karin Hopfner, Silvia Lau, Sven Meller Area: 8064 m2 Completed: 2009

Client: Morisawa & Company, Ltd. Signage: Hiromura Design Office, Tokyo, Masaaki Hiromura Designer: Tomoya Maruyama Typeface: Kohcho Completed: 2009 [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected]




Client: Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias de Valencia Signage: Bosco, Valencia Digital signage: Bosco, in collaboration with ToDo, Turin Architecture: Sanitago Calatrava, Zurich Materials: LED screens Typeface: Helvetica Neue Condensed Completed: 2010

Client: Flughafen Wien AG Signage: Intégral Ruedi Baur, Paris/Zurich Project management: Ruedi Baur, Eva Kubinyi, Simon Burkart Project team: Christina Poth, Axel Steinberger, Wanja Ledowski, Maria Roszkowska, Gabriela Wolfertz, David Esser Architects: ARGE Itten Brechbühl AG, Bern; B & E Baumschlager Eberle, Vienna Materials: aluminium, steel, glass, digital and screen-printing, film lettering Typeface: Fedra Sans Completed: 2012

Client: St. Gallen Municipal Department of Works Signage: Inform GmbH, Rorschach, Felix Hartmann Designers: Marc Frick, Tristan Hartmann Architecture: Locher & Meier Architekten, St. Gallen, Paul Meier Lighting design: Hellraum GmbH, St. Gallen, Adrian Hostettler Materials: gobo projectors Typeface: Univers Completed: 2008 [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected]


Standards, guidelines, regulations (selection)


The draft of the DIN standard “Requirements on Orientation Systems” planned for Germany was never published due to discrepancies in the contents. There are no plans to continue the project or introduce the standard at present. The standards listed below relate to partial aspects to be taken into consideration in connection with the subject of signage.

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Barrier-free Information Technology Ordinance (BITV) Ordinance on the creation of accessible information technology in compliance with the Act on Equal Opportunities of Disabled People 2011-09 Deutscher Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband e.V. (DBSV) Guideline for tactile writings – Application of Braille and raised profile writing and pictograms. 2007-05 DIN 1450 2012-06

Lettering – legibility.

DIN 1451 Lettering – Sans-Serif Linear-Antiqua Part 1: General. 1998-10 Part 2: Lettering for transportation. 1986-02 Part 3: Lettering for printing. 1987-12 Part 4: Stencilled lettering for engraving and other processes. 1987-08 DIN 4844 Graphical symbols – Safety Colours And Safety Signs Part 1: Observation distances and colorimetric and photometric requirements. 2012-06 Part 2: Registered safety signs. 2012-12 DIN 6164

DIN colour chart. 1980-02

DIN 13 984 Tactile writings. Application of Braille and Raised Profile Lettering. In planning DIN 18 040 Construction of accessible buildings – Design Principles Part 1: Publicly accessible buildings. 2010-10 Part 2: Dwellings. 2011-09 Part 3: Circulation areas and open spaces. In preparation DIN 32 974 Acoustic Signals in Public Traffic Areas – Requirements. 2000-02 DIN 32 975 Designing Visual Information in Public Areas for Accessible Use. 2009-12 DIN 32 976 Braille – Requirements and Dimensions. 2007-08

DIN 32984 Ground Surface Indicators in Public Areas. 2011-10 DIN 33 402 Ergonomics – Body Dimensions of People Part 1: Terms and definitions, measuring methods. 2008-03 Part 2: Values. 2005-12 Part 3: Movement room at different normal positions and movements. 1984-10 DIN 67 510 Phosphorescent Pigments and Products Part 3: Low location lighting systems. Part 4: Products for phosphorescent escape route systems – Markings and applications. DIN EN 80 416 Basic Principles for Graphical Symbols for use on equipment Part 2: Form and use of arrows. 2002-05 DIN EN ISO 9241 Ergonomics of Human-System Interaction Part 210: Process for the design of serviceable interactive systems. 2011-01 DIN Technical Report 124 in Design for All. 2002


DIN ISO 3864 Graphical symbols – Safety Colours and Safety Signs Part 1: Design principles for safety signs and safety markings. 2008-07 Part 3: Design principles for graphical symbols for use in safety signs. 2012-11 ISO 4190 Lift installation Part 5: Control devices, signals and additional fittings. 2006-11

Austria: ÖNorm A 6015 Lettering; Sans-Serif Linear-Antiqua; Lettering for printing. 1986-09 ÖNorm A 3011 Graphic Symbols for Public Information – General Principles. 1994-12 ÖNorm A 3012 Visual Guiding Systems for Public Information – Orientation supported by direction arrows, graphic symbols, text, light and colour. 1994-04 ÖNorm A 3013 Visual Guiding Systems for Public Information – Designation of orientation signs for touristic purposes. 1998-07

ÖNorm B 1600 Barrier-free Construction – Design Principles. 2012-02 ÖNorm V 2102 Technical Aids for visually Impaired and blind persons – Tactile ground surface indicators ÖNorm V 2105 Technical Aids for the Visually-Impaired – Tactile inscriptions and Information Systems

Switzerland: SIA 500 Accessible Buildings. 2009 SN 640 852 Markings – TactileVisual Markings for Blind and VisuallyImpaired Pedestrians

Literature (selection)

Photo credits

Bauer, Erwin K.; Mayer, Dieter: Orientation & Identity. Portraits of International Guidance Systems. Vienna / New York 2009

Placement with Evangelische Krankenhaus Köln-Weyertal GmbH. Degree paper produced at Koblenz University of Applied Sciences. 2005

Büro für Gestaltung Wangler & Abele: Design. 5 volumes 2002–12

TwoPoints.Net (Eds.): Left, Right, Up, Down. New Directions in Signage and Wayfinding. Berlin 2010

Galindo, Michelle: Signage Design. Salenstein 2012 Gibson, David: The Wayfinding Handbook. Information Design for Public Places. New York 2009 Hartmann, Frank; Bauer, Erwin K.: Pictorial Language. Otto Neurath, Visualisierungen. Vienna 2006 MAGMA Brand Design (Eds.): Signage Orientation. Slanted #18. Karlsruhe 2012 Herwig, Oliver: In that direction – sign systems bring clarity to a complex world. In: DETAIL 06 / 2009, p. 564– 568 Kant, Immanuel: What Does it Mean to Orient Oneself in Thinking? In: Immanuel Kant: Works in Twelve Volumes. Vol. 5. Frankfurt am Main 1977 Kjeldsen, Kjeld et al.: New Nordic Architecture & Identity. Exhibition Catalogue, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art 2012 Klooster, Thorsten (Ed.): Smart Surfaces. Smart Surfaces and their Application in Architecture and Design. Basel/Boston/Berlin 2009 Lunger, Christian; Scheiber, Markus: Orientation When Travelling. Tourist Signage Systems. Berlin 2009 Lutsch, Christian (Ed.): Positions. Orientation in Society, Science and Media. Implications for the Design of Processes and Strategies. OstfildernRuit 2003 McLuhan, Marshall; Fiore, Quentin; Agle, Jerome (Eds.): The Medium is the Massage. An Inventory of Effects. Stuttgart 2011 Meuser, Philipp (Ed.); Pogade, Daniela: Signage and Pictograms. Berlin 2010 Stettien, Katharina: Orientation and Signage Systems in Hospitals. Bases for the Planning of an Orientation and Signage System for Visitors and Patients including a Project Study

Uebele, Andreas: Orientation Systems and Signage. A Planning Manual for Architects, Product Designers and Communications Designers. Mainz 2006 von Degenhart, Christine; Ebe, Johann; Heiss Oliver: Barrier-free Design. Principles, Planning, Examples. Munich 2009

The authors and publishers would like to express their heartfelt thanks to all those who have helped this book come into being by providing us with photographic images, by granting us permission to reproduce this material and by providing us with information. Illustrations which are not credited are taken from the archives of the designers, graphic designers and architects or from the archives DETAIL magazine. Despite intensive efforts we were unable to identify the holders of the copyrights to a number of the photos and illustrations; nonetheless, the copyrights are protected. We request that the authors notify us accordingly.

p. 8, 62 bottom left and bottom right, 63, 102 – 105, 158 top right, 160 top right Werner Huthmacher, D –Berlin p. 14, 15, 156 top left Nippon Design Center, Inc., J –Tokyo p. 17 bottom right, 156 top right John Gollings, AUS – St Kilda p. 18, 19, 30, 31, 115 bottom right, 124, 156 bottom left, 157 top left Gourdin & Müller, Leipzig /Hamburg p. 20, 21 bottom Uwe Gelesch, D – Gelsenkirchen p. 21 top Martin Schmüdderich, D –Gelsenkirchen p. 22 top and bottom, 23 top and centre pro Sport Munich (publ.): The Games. Volume 1. The Organization. Munich 1972 p. 22 centre, 23 bottom pro Sport Munich (publ.): The Games. Volume 2. The Constructions. Munich 1972 p. 24 – 27, 157 top centre design stauss grillmeier, D–Munich p. 28, 29, 157 top right Yuki Omori p. 32 Cesare Querci p. 35 Bruce Sutherland, SA–Cape Town p. 37 Heiner Leiska, D – Wedel p. 38/39 top gmp · Architekten von Gerkan, Marg and Partners, D –Berlin p. 38 bottom, 39 centre, 42 bottom left and bottom right, 43, 45 top, 47 top right, 156 bottom right Marcus Bredt, D –Berlin p. 39 bottom, 42 left top and centre, 44, 45 bottom Büro für Gestaltung Wangler & Abele, D–Munich p. 40, 41, 47 top left Moniteurs Kommunikationsdesign, D–Berlin p. 46, 47 bottom Joachim Brohm, D–Leipzig p. 48 left top, 48 right, 49 left top, 49 left bottom, 157 bottom centre Chuck Choi, USA – Arlington, MA


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Photo credits

p. 48 left bottom, 51, 86 bottom, 139 Iwan Baan, NL–Amsterdam p. 49 right Roland Halbe/arturimages p. 50 Allianz Arena, D–Munich p. 52, 54, 55, 132 bottom, 133 Torsten Krüger, p. 53 Cupertino City Council, p. 57, 157 bottom right Paolo Riolzi, I–Mailand p. 58, 59 Ludwig Thalheimer/Lupe, I– Bolzano / Bozen p. 60, 61, 108, 109, 127 top, 130, 131, 158 top left, 159 bottom centre, 161 top right Nacása & Partners Inc., J–Tokyo p. 62 top, 64, 65 top, 114 bottom left and bottom right, 138 Christian Richters, D–Münster p. 65 bottom, 114 top buero uebele visuelle kommunikation, D– Stuttgart p. 66 L2M3 Kommunikationsdesign, D– Stuttgart p. 74 –77, 159 top left Brigida González, D–Stuttgart p. 68 –73, 78, 79, 81 top left and top right, 146 bottom left, 148, 149 top left, 159 top centre Intégral Ruedi Baur, F– Paris / CH–Zurich p. 80, 81 bottom Dieter Mayer, Struktiv, A–Kirchberg am Wagram p. 81 top centre George Fessy, F–Lyon p. 81 centre Philippe Ruault, F–Nantes p. 82, 83 left top Elad Sarig, IL –Tel Aviv p. 84, 110 bottom, 111 centre and bottom Stephan Klonk, D –Berlin p. 85 top ratgeber/wilderkermeter100_ga-1_ pic-7.html p. 85 centre Davide Tidoni © 2010 p. 85 bottom polyform – planen und gestalten, D –Berlin p. 86 top, 125 top bauer – konzept & gestaltung, A–Vienna p. 87 Ralston & Bau, N–Dale i Sunnfjord p. 88 –91, 126 centre and bottom, 158 bottom left Chaoying Yang p. 92, 93, 158 bottom right Jörg Hempel, D–Aachen p. 94, 95, 159 bottom left Patrick Säly, A–Tschagguns p. 96, 97, 99, 100, 104/105 bottom, 129 Beate Kling Architekten, D–Berlin p. 98, 128 bottom left and bottom centre Wanja Ledowski – Studio, F– Paris p. 106, 128 top, 159 bottom right L2M3 Kommunikationsdesign, D–Stuttgart p. 107 Florian Hammerich, D– Regensburg

p. 110 top, 111 top right Helen Hüsser, CH– Zurich p. 111 top left Michael Fontana p. 112 Hauser, black, CH–Basel p. 113 left Frank Hartmann, Erwin K. Bauer: Bildersprache. Otto Neurath, Visualisierungen. Vienna 2006, p. 84 p. 113 centre © 1976 by ERCO, D–Lüdenscheid p. 113 right unit-design, D–Frankfurt am Main p. 115 top right Mijksenaar, NL – Amsterdam p. 115 top left, 144, 145, 161 bottom left Bosco, E–Valencia p. 115 bottom left BURRI public elements AG, CH–Zurich p. 116, 117, 160 top left Eibe Sönnecken, D–Darmstadt p. 118, 119, 161 top left Daici Ano, J –Tokyo p. 120, 161 top centre TGG Hafen Senn Stieger, CH–St. Gallen p. 121 Bruno Klomfar, A–Vienna p. 122 Eicher Werkstätten, D–Rommelshausen p. 124 Gourdin & Müller, D–Leipzig/Hamburg p. 125 centre and bottom, 127 bottom right Andreas Körner, D–Stuttgart p. 127 bottom left Roman Polster, D–Kassel p. 128 bottom right Axel Schneider, D–Frankfurt am Main p. 132 centre top, 160 bottom left Frank Neumann p. 134 bottom left, bottom right Daniela Valentini, CH–Zurich p. 134 top, 135, 160 bottom right Stefan Müller, D–Berlin p. 137, 140 Peter Mauss/Esto p. 141 Edo van Dijk/Edenspiekermann, NL – Amsterdam p. 142 3d-berlin vr solutions GmbH, D–Berlin p. 143 left Mac Funamizu/ p. 143 right © Fraunhofer HeinrichHertz-institute, D–Berlin p. 146 top and bottom right, 147, 149 top right and bottom, 161 bottom centre Intégral Ruedi Baur, Photos: Andreas Körner, D– Stuttgart p. 150, 151 bottom left and bottom right, 161 bottom right Heinz Köppel, CH–Rorschach p. 151 left top, centre left and centre right Inform GmbH, CH–Rorschach p. 154 ART+COM, D–Berlin p. 157 bottom left Alexander Obst/Marion Schmieding (Berlin Brandenburg Airport)

Photos introducing chapters p. 8: Training Centre, GRG Services Group, Berlin (D) 2008, architecture: Beate Kling Architekten Photo: Werner Hutmacher, D –Berlin p. 32: MAXXI Museum, Rome (I) 2010, architecture: Zaha Hadid Architects, signage: ma:design, Monica Zaffini, Massimiliano Patrignani Photo: Cesare Querci p. 66: SimTech, University of Stuttgart (D) 2012, architecture: hartwig schneider architekten, signage: L2M3 Kommunikationsdesign Photo: L2M3 Kommunikationsdesign, D–Stuttgart p. 122: Pfalzbau Theatre, Ludwigshafen (D) 2009, architecture: wiesemann architekten, Signage: Daniela Valentini Photo: Eicher Werkstätten, D–Rommelshausen p. 154: Statistical display in the exhibition “Arbeit. Sinn und Sorge”, German Hygiene Museum Dresden, 2009/10, design: ART+COM Photo: ART+COM, D –Berlin

Cover Museion, Bolzano/Bozen (I) 2008, architecture: KSV Krüger Schubert Vandreike Photo: Ludwig Thalheimer/Lupe, I– Bolzano / Bozen


Beate Kling

Torsten Krüger

Born 1967 1986 – 1991: studied architecture at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, final project exhibited at the Architecture Biennale in Venice; Worked at the architectural practice of Dr. Krause in Weimar, involved in the restoration of historic buildings, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Classical Weimar”; 1993 – 2003: architect with Architekten von Gerkan, Marg and Partners in their Aachen, Leipzig and Berlin offices, project management of major projects including Jakob Kaiser Haus – office complex for members of the German Bundestag, Berlin; 2003: founded Beate Kling Architekten practice in Berlin, realisation of projects in the fields of architecture, communication design and signage.

Born 1963 1983 – 1988: studied architecture at the Bauhaus University in Weimar; worked at the Bauakademie in Berlin; 1990: founded the interdisciplinary creative agency KSV Krüger Schuberth Vandreike GmbH; numerous competitions and awards, realisation of national and international projects in the fields of brand architecture, corporate design, interior design, exhibition design and signage.

Ruedi Baur

Falk Jaeger

Born 1956 Studied graphic design at the Academy of Art and Design in Zurich; 1983: co-founder of the BBV studio in Lyons, Milan and Zurich; 1989: co-founder of the interdisciplinary network Intégral Concept, since then head of the Intégral Ruedi Baur studios in Paris and Zurich (2002) and the Laboratoire IRB in Paris (2007); 1989 – 1996: coordination of the department of design at the École des Beaux-Arts in Lyons; 1995: Professor at the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig, 1997– 2000 Rector of the Academy; 1999: founded the 2id Institute for Interdisciplinary Design in Leipzig; 2004 – 2011: founded and headed the design2context research institute at the Zurich University of the Arts; 2011: founded the Civic City/Civic Design critical research institute and network at the HEAD University of Art and Design in Geneva; Teaches at the École national supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

Born 1950 Studied architecture and history of art in Brunswick, Stuttgart and Tübingen, received doctorate from the Technical University in Hanover; has worked since 1976 as a freelance architectural critic; 1983 – 1988: assistant lecturer at the Institute for Architectural History and Surveying at the Technical University in Berlin, followed by lectureships at various universities; 1993 – 2000: chair in architectural theory at the Technical University in Dresden, where he has been a visiting professor since 2000; lives in Berlin working as a freelance publicist, academic, curator and specialist journalists for radio, newspapers and specialist publications.

Hubert Nienhoff Born 1959 Studied architecture at the RWTH in Aachen, graduated 1985; 1988–1991 Assistant lecturer at the RWTH Aachen, chair for urban planning and material studies; since 1988 employee, since 1993

partner at Architekten von Gerkan, Marg and Partners, responsible for the Berlin, Frankfurt am Main and Rio de Janeiro offices, project management of new trade fair building in Leipzig, Olympic stadium in Berlin, Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt (FIFA World Cup 2006), stadia for the FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa, National Stadium in Warsaw (UEFA EURO 2012), Berlin Brandenburg (Willy Brandt) Airport, stadia for the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil.

Michael Schwanke-Seer Born 1972 Studied banking Worked at VingCard Elsafe in Wiesbaden and Acentic GmbH in Cologne; 2008–2011: Senior Manager Accounts & Development Europe – Hospitality Business at LG Electronics Europe in Amstelveen, responsible for the hotel sector throughout Europe; since 2011: COO of Macnetix GmbH in Berlin, responsible for Sales, Projects and Marketing.


5 166 167


Accessibility 85 Accessible design 84 Acoustic support 129 Additive information carriers 124 Addressing 101 Advertising displays 115 Analogue information carriers 124 Arrows 112 Assistance personnel 129 Audio guide 129 Audio output 87 Backlighting 115 Back projection 137 Barrier-free building 11 Brand communication 50 Brand messages 51 Brand management 101 Brand staging 53 Building guidance system 34 Building identity 13, 50ff., 101, 110 Building typology 96 Circulation layout 98, 100 Circulation routes 97 Client 98 Coating method 125 Coding 101, 111 Colour 38, 70, 112 Colour coding 54 Colour contrast 86, 113 Colour signage system 22 Communication concept 110 Communication design 53 Conservation 36 Control elements 101 Corporate culture 12, 52 Corporate identity 13, 21, 50, 52, 101, 110 Costs 98 Cultural traditions 55 Cultural identity 38 Daylight 41 Design for All 84 Design goals 85 Design levels 101 Design manual 39, 41, 50, 99 Design principles 39 Digital door signs 142 Digital advertising 136 Digital information technologies 127 Digital information carriers 124 Digital media 11, 129 Digital screens 115 Digital signage 136ff. Digital technologies 138 Displays 136 Employee information systems 136 Enamelling 125 Ergonomic flexibility 86 Etching 125 Functional relationships 101

Genius loci 36, 38 Graphic coding 112 Green IT 142 Grouping of information 101 Guest information system 136, 142 Guidance information 100 Guidelines 87 Guidance system 20f., 101 Hearing impairment 86 Hierarchies 10, 21, 97 Hierarchical levels 54, 101 Holistic design 35 Identity 10, 12, 38 Independent navigation 98 Information chain 101 Information system 100 Inlays 125 Integrated information carriers 125 Integrated signage 36, 99 Integrative planning 125 Intelligent information systems 101 Interactive displays 138 Interactive technology 143 Interdisciplinary conception 72 Key Visuals 113 LCD displays 138 LCD panel 136 LED displays 138 LED monitors 136 LED walls 137 Legibility 111 Lettering 111 Light 115, 126 Material 113 Modular system 39 Monitors 136 Multilingual communication 114 Navigation system 41 Network components 136 OLED 143 Organisational structure 40 Orientation 10ff., 34, 40 Orientation design 100 Orientation system 34, 100 Patterns of order 20 Perception level 101 Perspective effect 126 Pictogram 111 Pictogram family 21 Planning basis 99 Positioning 101 Positioning technologies 138ff. Printed products 50, 129 Projecting components 137 Projection 115, 137 Projection surfaces 136

QR code 97, 140 Ready-made information carriers 127 Room directories 100 Room numbering system 100 Routing 101 Safety requirements 35 Screen printing 125 Self-explanatory space 34 Semantics 114 Shared Spaces 34 Signage 101 Sign families 124 Smartphone 23, 41, 140 Software 136, 140 Spatial typology 96 Supplementary sources of information 129 Sustainability 152 Standards 86, 98 Standardisation 21, 111 Systematic information specification 100 Tactile lettering 87 Target groups 51, 97, 101 Teamwork 55, 99 Temporary signage systems 127 Three-dimensionality 113, 125 Touch displays 138 Touchscreens 115, 129 Traffic flows 97 Two-dimensional applications 125 Typography 53, 111 Understanding of language 114 Universal Design 13, 84 Verbal information 129 Viewing distance 111 Visual appearance 53 Visual coding 112 Visual impairment 86 Visual language 21, 53,111 Visual relationships 96 WLAN 139


Authors: Beate Kling, Torsten Krüger Co-authors: Ruedi Baur, Falk Jaeger, Hubert Nienhoff, Michael Schwanke-Seer Research: Susanne Augustin Editors: Cornelia Hellstern (project management), Sandra Leitte Editorial team: Carola Jacob-Ritz, Michaela Linder, Kai Meyer, Michaela Wengert Drawings: Ralph Donhauser Translation into English: Antoinette Aichele-Platen, D – Munich; Alistair Gray, UK – Whitby Copy editor: Philip Shelley, CH – Zurich Design concept and cover design: Katharina Zettl, D – Berlin Production / DTP: Simone Soesters Reproduction: ludwig:media, A – Zell am See Printing and binding: Kessler Druck + Medien, D – Bobingen

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© 2013, first edition DETAIL – Institut für internationale Architektur-Dokumentation GmbH & Co. KG, Munich ISBN: 978-3-920034-94-2 (printed) ISBN: 978-3-95553-145-4 (e-book) ISBN: 978-3-95553-156-0 (bundle)

The authors and publishers would like to thank the following sponsor for his assistance with this publication:

Siemens Enterprise Communications GmbH & Co. KG D– Munich

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