Clearing the fog on the Tyne to help navigation in South Shields

We were commissioned to draft a wayfinding strategy for South Shields in May 2024

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This Spring, we’ve been getting under the skin of South Shields, perched at the mouth of the River Tyne opposite its close neighbour, North Shields.

For some, it’s best known as the finish line for the UK’s biggest half marathon. And it will be no surprise to learn that the town has a rich fishing and sailing history. But did you know that it also played a key role in Roman Britain?

UNESCO World Heritage site Arbeia was an important garrison, guarding the main sea route to Hadrian’s Wall. It functioned as the Roman Emperor’s HQ for the Scottish invasion and a military supply base to other forts along the Wall.

In fact, South Shields is packed with interesting destinations, including the National Centre for the Written Word and The Customs House arts venue west of the high street, and South Marine Park and seafront to the east.

But while legibility within the town centre itself is good, there is little to encourage pedestrians to walk a little further beyond the high street to discover them.

The town suffers from visual barriers that mean once pedestrians reach the perimeter of the shopping core there’s nothing to encourage them to push on and see what’s beyond. Many visitors are missing out on lots of what South Shields has to offer.

Tom Cookson, 3D Designer

We’ve been tasked with helping to reconnect the town centre with its other attractions by reinforcing mapping and other wayfinding interventions.

We’re putting together a wayfinding concept, taking inspiration from the existing infrastructure and sea front for design cues. We’ll be pulling together a scheme that celebrates South Shield’s unique story, and highlighting what lies just off the beaten track.

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