A Very Bright Wayfinding System at The University of Technology Sydney

BrandCulture's eyecatching signs are not just another pretty wayfinding system. There's very smart technology behind these signs. Their bold color is not only the culmination of a design and installation that revolutionized wayfinding on the campus of The University of Technology (UTS) in Sydney, it's a fully digitally-integrated signage system that may be coming soon to a similarly challenged land-of-the-lost-campus near you.

With fifteen properties interwoven into the heart of Sydney's vibrant and densely populated central business district, UTS had invested heavily in a major redevelopment of their facilities, including adding four new landmark buildings designed by renowned architects. They needed a street-level brand identity to consolidate a diverse and fragmented campus, and a comprehensive wayfinding strategy and signage system to help more than 24,000 students and countless visitors find their way.

BrandCulture worked off key insights uncovered during a strategic planning effort led by Urbanite (part of Frost*collective). Urbanite's insightful, in-depth research and stakeholder workshops formed the basis of a wayfinding strategy covering nomenclature hierarchy, sign hierarchy and placement strategy, graphic layout for the signage and a pictogram family to ensure consistency of messages. Sixty-five different sign types and 8,500 signs resulted.

The extensive wayfinding signage brings a stunning new brand to the UTS campus and identifies many places that were once a mystery to the public and students alike. The system has a logical and structured information hierarchy across a multitude of locations that provides consistency and clarity across the wide campus and within UTS' individual buildings themselves.

UTS had asked for well-designed signage for the entire university. Their embrace of BrandCulture's innovative proposals got them that−and much more. During the prototype, production and installation phases, strategic new opportunities were identified and implemented that vastly improve the experience for the user and the client alike.

At the top of the signage hierarchy were the graphically striking and strategically placed totems. It is within the totems that a wayfinding revolution arose.

"We were going to put up these big dimensional totems," says Stephen Minning, BrandCulture's Managing Director and one of the creative directors for the project, "that would be bang in the epicenter of every journey taken through the campus. The client first asked if we could incorporate their security cameras and the emergency distress buttons. That made us realize the totems could incorporate a range of currently available technologies and that we should add sufficient data capabilities to serve new technologies in the future. "

Most data-enabled features currently on the totems are not actually visible. In addition to security and emergency features, these include spoken directions (translated into many languages) that ease navigation. This is a boon for UTS's many foreign visitors; even blind users have reported finding their way around using the spoken directions.

All of the university was made digitally accessible and searchable through the totems. While what you see posted on any sign is necessarily limited to key destinations, the entire university directory of buildings, departments, people and places can be accessed. The system shows you where you want to be and becomes a map of how to get there. That feature, possibly the most novel and most appreciated, was incorporated after a serendipitous series of events.

"During the project, we were using data communications with our computer as an efficient, internal tool," says Minning. "Every location was digitally loaded, and we created an interface where myriad people across our team, university staff, stakeholders in local governments, etc. could view signs in various stages of completion or evolution, and provide approval or feedback. Scheduling, coordination and implementation phases of the project showcased the effectiveness of our system. The university's facilities staff loved it and asked if the same system could be adapted for the students to use." It could and it was. The wayfinding revolution, including mapping, began.

And that eyecatching color? Urbanite had originally chosen a bright yellow Pantone color. But, the university didn't want to sign up for a proprietary color, so BrandCulture created a whole new paint system to achieve a yellow that can be painted across the multiple sign types, that any sign manufacturer could produce, and that uses standard materials to achieve a high quality finish. It established a new level of service to The University of Technology.

  Wayfinding and Signage for The University of Technology, Sydney

  • Client: The University of Technology, Sydney
  • Location: Sydney, Australia
  • Open Date: July 2015
  • Design: Urbanite (part of Frost*collective) and Brandculture
  • Design Team: Stephen Minning, Vince Frost, Carlo Giannasca (creative directors); Nick Bannikoff, Bridget Atkinson, Jeremy Tombs (design directors); Steve Plummer, Charlie Bromley, Katie Bevin (designers)
  • Technology Consultant: Meld Strategies
  • Wayfinding Strategy: Nick Bannikoff, Joanna Mackenzie
  • Fabrication and Installation: Signcraft
  • Photos: Steve Plummer


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