Finding your way in spaces that won’t stand still

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Temporary signage for shapeshifting spaces

Shifting working patterns arising from the pandemic, combined with a growing desire to maximise efficiency and minimise environmental impact, mean that the way we use spaces has changed dramatically. Many public and office spaces have gradually shifted from static areas dedicated to single uses to areas zoned for flexible uses.

Is flexibility the ultimate challenge for the wayfinder?

How do you navigate a space that keeps changing?

The temporary nature of a space in flux seems an oxymoron for the permanent fixture of a navigational sign.

That’s where temporary signage come in. But, in truth, there are a variety of scenarios where temporary is best. Adaptability is an essential trait for any space in the flux of change. And the signage of a space must strike the right balance between flexibility and functionality.

So whether you’re delivering a large-scale masterplan, starting construction work on site, hosting a one-off event or shaping flexible, multi-purpose areas, temporary signage is not just helpful – it’s crucial.

Phase by phase: guiding users through masterplan evolutions

As large-scale developments evolve, often spanning several years with multiple phases, the challenge is to ensure that users of early phases know where they’re going and why. It’s especially important to keep users abreast of changes to routes during the course of the planning and development process. The proposed location of a local play area might move, or the most direct route to the shops may change, as phases get built out.

Temporary signage in these dynamic environments needs to do more than point directions; it must narrate an ongoing story, guiding people effectively through a landscape that’s still a work in progress. At Plasdŵr, we’re working with Redrow Homes to ensure clear signage is installed on early phases of a strategic extension, mindful that this signage will inevitably need updating as the place develops over the next decade.

Safe passage: navigating construction sites

Construction sites are mazes of segregated areas where safe routes and access points can shift daily. Here, temporary signage isn’t just for wayfinding; it’s critical for safety. Employing clear, bold and frequently updated signage helps ensure everyone bypasses hazards.

We recently designed eye-catching and on-brand temporary signs for British Land’s Broadgate Arcade, to help shoppers and commuters navigate the changing landscape. We’re also supporting Bruntwood with its 20-year masterplan to redevelop Stretford Mall. We’ll be designing the permanent signage for in due course but for now it’s the temporary signage that’s crucial, to make sure that people can continue to use the mall safely now that construction has started.

It’s all about clear communication in an environment where a wrong turn could be more than just inconvenient.

Eventful directions: signage for temporary events

From festivals and pop-up markets to conferences, temporary events transform ordinary spaces into extraordinary experiences. However, the magic can swiftly turn to mayhem without proper signage.

Temporary wayfinding solutions for events have two simple but essential criteria. Signs need to be eye-catching and straightforward to guide the masses from entrance to exit, stage to stall. In these bustling pop-ups, signage must also enhance the overall event experience by reinforcing the event’s brand personality.

Flexible spaces: signage for adaptive environments

And finally, there’s the permanent but flexible space. Signage in these versatile, chameleon-like spaces needs to be just as flexible, intuitively guiding users as the function shifts. Here, temporary signage solutions must dovetail seamlessly with permanent fixtures to successfully move users through a space.

Our recent work at Aviva Studios, home of Factory International, Manchester’s latest cultural space, challenged us to take our creativity to the next level. The building has been built with flexibility in mind, offering a multi-use space that can adapt to host a huge variety of creative installations, exhibitions and events. We focused on user-experience when devising a signage solution that will evolve with the space’s flexible purpose and divergent user needs. It’s a value that we always adhere to but is particularly important in a space where even return visitors will find the space different from the last time they stopped by.

Looking beyond the signpost

It’s clear that temporary signage is more than simply taking temporary measures. It’s about thinking ahead, being nimble and creating clarity in chaos. The challenge is achieving enough flexibility while maintaining functionality and meeting user needs.

In a world where change is the only constant, wayfinding becomes not just about directing people but about guiding them through a narrative of transformation, ensuring safety, enriching experiences and facilitating people movement in multifunctional spaces.

If your space is in a constant state of flux and you’re wondering how to keep everyone moving smoothly, we can help. Give us a call at 0161 241 3174 and we’ll help to ease navigation across your changing landscape together.

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