The Manchester Civil Justice Centre is the largest civil court built in England in the last 100 years. The landmark 14-story building, part of a large city-center redevelopment project, was designed by Australian architects Denton Corker Marshall following an international design competition. It opened in October 2007 and achieved an “excellent” rating from the Building Research Establishment Assessment Method (BREEAM) system, similar to LEED.
Emerystudio (Melbourne) was commissioned to develop a seamless system of wayfinding and identification signage based on the building’s forms, materials, and colors. The 47 courts and their associated offices are expressed architecturally as long rectilinear forms, articulated at each floor level and projecting at each end of the building as a varied composition of solid and void. In side elevation, these elements collectively establish a dynamic and distinctive building profile; in end elevation, they form a powerful sculptural interplay of light and shade, depth and complexity. The architectural implication is that the courts are not forbidding and concealed, but open and accessible. The primary wayfinding signs are comprised of two open rectilinear volumes: a stainless steel base that forms a void beneath the upper volume (the information element). The two components are juxtaposed, providing a simple, sculptural composition. The “open” sign forms reflect the architectural intentions for an open and accessible court building.
In profile, the information element reveals a transparent colored acrylic core. When approached from the side, the colored infill heralds each sign as a source of information. The system’s design balances the dual imperatives of providing distinctive and memorable signs and integration with the architectural whole.
“This is a well-executed program that coexists in a very integrated way with the powerful architecture. The use of signage materials and color that take their cue from the building, while adding a hit of bright green as accent, create the appropriate balance of visually blending in and providing wayfinding clarity.”
Garry Emery (principal in charge), Sarah Cope, David Crampton, Eva Lee
Denton Corker Marshall (project architect)
Westmoreland Signs International Ltd.