London is a city of complex structures, partly dating back to medieval times, with few long vistas but a multitude of destinations and attractive areas. With more than 27 million visitors a year, walkability is important. It’s well known that London’s “tube map” is one of the best wayfinding diagrams in the world. But the above-ground terrain has been less well served. Surveys conducted in conjunction with the Legible London program showed that more than 40% of people have been using the tube map for walking, too.
The idea of Legible London is to provide better support for the millions who walk every day—that’s more than half of all journeys in the capital city. A wayfinding study identified no fewer than 32 separate pedestrian sign systems in the central area, resulting in visual noise rather than reliable, coordinated information. Legible London aims to provide that coordination: across neighborhoods and borough boundaries, connecting up with the other transport modes, and delivering information not just in the street, but in all the ways people find their way around.
A prototype of the Legible London system was installed in London’s famous West End. The careful design process built upon principles of universal access and cognitive science, and resulted in an array of heads-up mapping available at key junctions in the street, at transport arrival points (tube stations and bus shelters), and in people's pockets on printed maps. An agreed set of landmarks and area names peppered the system. The prototype was independently evaluated and surveys suggested journey time-savings of 16% and universal improvements to people’s confidence to navigate on foot.
Applied Information Group
Tim Fendley (creative director); Kasper de Graaf (executive producer); Richard Simon (planning director); Ben Acornley (design director); Manuela Zwingmann (project director); Collete Jeffrey (inclusivity director); James Lefrere, Ben Gibbs, Matt Cooper (information designers); Simon Hillier (researcher and planner)
Sam Gullam (product director); Paddy Long, Paul Garratt (product designers)
Woodhouse (fabrication), Westone (installation)
“A state-of-the-art wayfinding strategy, rigorous research, and robust hardware incorporates both traditional and digital methods for encouraging fine-grain explorations of a very complex city. Useful and intelligible information delivered selectively through a multitude of channels won the jury’s favor.”