MCM required a wayfinding system that would allow visitors to both find its new home and then navigate through it effectively. The solution and its messaging had to break down the barrier of MCM as a university building and ensure both its functions were well known to the public; that it is a performance space as well as a student learning space.
The Ian Potter Southbank Centre was designed as a purpose-built home for the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (MCM), a University of Melbourne (UoM) faculty. Among its established neighbors, MCM’s new home required a clear public identity, addressing its dual function as a public performance venue and a university teaching space. The project sought to announce a new home for Australia’s oldest and most prestigious music institution – a bold and contemporary identity for a landmark new addition to the Melbourne Arts Precinct.
The scope of works included wayfinding strategy, concept design, design development, tender documentation and construction administration. MCM required a wayfinding system that would allow visitors to both find their new home and then navigate through it effectively. The solution and its messaging had to break down the barrier of MCM as a university building and ensure both its functions were well known to the public; that it is a performance space as well as a student learning space. Neon was selected for the main building signage on the facade for its boldness and sense of craft and vitality. Referencing the language of nightlife, exhibition and entertainment, it embodies the student journey from practice to performance; a place of learning as well as ‘center stage.’ It is inviting and prompts visitors to enter and engage with the space. The wayfinding design subtlety draws on musical references. The ‘monospace’ typeface provides each character with a consistent measure and weight, like a bar or a beat. The musical stave was reinterpreted as a visual underline, which anchors content and branches out for multi-line text.
The Melbourne Conservatorium of Music stands out from the crowd, and its new amenities allow students to connect with and immerse themselves in the arts precinct and neighboring buildings.
Design + Execution
Diadem’s design is a celebration of the arts and acknowledges the energy that music and performance brings to a space.
The signage suite’s neon focal points are inviting to the eye and encourage interaction and immersion with MCM. Neon works together with the suite’s other elements – typography and the ‘underline’ – to create a stylish reference to music that takes after the space’s vibrant atmosphere.
The typeface is monospace whereby each character has a set kerning and aligns with those above and below.
Each unit creates the impression of a musical bar and therefore a beat, creating the impression of a sequence and its rhythm. The characters sit atop the ‘underline’, which looks to recreate the lines of a printed musical sequence. The ‘underline’ also works in a practical sense. They required minimal drill holes to be installed and allowed power to flow to each letter of every sign.
Diadem considered the very layout of MCM and identified a problem upon foyer entry; the concert space on ground floor was the easiest one to locate, despite it not being the main hall. The principal and biggest public hall, the Hanson Dyer Hall, was located on the building’s third floor. The eye-catching signs were strategically placed within the Conservatorium to prompt the public through stairs and up lifts upon entry.
Adrian Vecino (design, wayfinding strategy)
Mark Janetzki (creative direction)
Jack Normoyle, Todd Dawson (industrial design, design development)
Danielle Churton (design management)
Paul Sparks (technical direction)
John Wardle Architects (architects)
Donald Cant Watts Corke (project managers)
Unknown (manufacture and installation)