Aviva Studios, The Home of Factory International

Factory International | Manchester, UK

What is it?

An innovative internal signage solution for Manchester’s flagship cultural space, nestled within the city’s newest neighbourhood, St John’s.

As the home for Manchester’s rising stars, the new venue will host a year-round programme of cultural performances and installations, work with local communities and help artists realise their potential.

The Challenge

The landmark building itself 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.

The challenge for us was clear: how do you design an internal wayfinding scheme when the destinations keep moving?

What we did

We were initially instructed to provide high-level wayfinding strategy advice on how to best support people movement across the site, which incorporates multiple indoor spaces catering to different uses.

Working with the Factory International brand, created by branding agency North, we devised both temporary and permanent internal signage interventions to support users. Our focus was on identifying the different front-of-house and back-of-house spaces to make sure that all users – whether visitor, performer or member of staff – can understand and navigate the building.

Why it works

As a one-of-a-kind that is unfamiliar to most, we can’t rely on natural navigational cues to ease movement. Manchester’s most hotly anticipated space has drawn in the crowds ever since opening in summer 2023. So it’s doubly important that visitors are helped along their journey as they explore the space. And equally important is making sure that the performers and production teams can get to where they need to be.

The final signage evolves with the space’s flexible purpose and divergent user needs. By focusing on user-experience, we ensured that all users and their divergent user needs are accommodated.

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.

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