Wayfinding is the process of finding one’s way through an unfamiliar environment; signage is one part of a wayfinding strategy, the part that most of us rely upon. In this project, POMO was engaged to create a comprehensive wayfinding strategy for what was arguably the Sunshine Coast’s most difficult to navigate urban precinct.
The owners of the precinct identified wayfinding as a very real need that, is addressed properly, could help improve people’s experience of the space and play a key role in creating of a more vibrant urban centre.
We used a human-centered design process where the specific needs of the users of the urban space formed the basis of the strategic design process. To that end, the project began with a public space study where we spent time in the space observing the behaviour of visitors. Observations around access points, navigation pathways, demographics of users (among other things) were recorded and analysed over a period of months. This process is known as a public space study and has formed the basis of many urban design processes globally since the 1970’s. The data from this process was used to form the basis of the subsequent wayfinding strategy.
The wayfinding strategy was a comprehensive document that contained an in-depth analysis of the human factors in play in the precinct. These human needs were compiled against a similarly in-depth analysis of the site constraints - its physical limitations - which represented challenges to the wayfinding process from a built environment and regulatory perspective.
A wayfinding response to these challenges was mapped out with detailed work done around sign messaging, locations and physical form. The strategy flowed through to concept designs where sign prototypes emerged and were created at scale and tested on location.
Final steps of the design process involved detailed construction design of all signs including material selection, footing and fixing specifications, and completing engineering and documentation for local government building approval processes where required. Compliance with Australian Standards for accessibility and mobility was also managed by POMO.
Working closely with metal fabricators and other trades, the final suite of unique, folded aluminium signs were created and installed onsite in a number of phases.
Existing built forms were used to serve as wayfinding features for custom made signs and environmental graphics.
Moving a public space user from one side of the matrix to another is a key reason why commercial property owners will engage designers and placemakers like POMO. The precinct owners engaged POMO and Deicke Richards Architects to generate ideas and strategies to turn this urban space into a vibrant place.
When we set out to design our studio we approached it like any design project, we began by identifying the priorities and creating a strategic framework to guide the decision making.
The initial priority was to create something simple to build, something sustainable, creatively inspiring and something that was cost effective. Through research it became clear that achieving these things was not necessarily difficult.
Working with the landscape design team POMO were able to create a number of key design initiatives that would contribute to the locally inspired placemaking program and deliver on practical community needs.
POMO was engaged to design and construct a number of landscape elements. Each element was custom designed and born from the uniqueness of Palmwoods, they reference local history, using locally sourced materials and were being made collaboratively with local craftspeople and artisans.
Underlying this was a larger design and management process run by POMO involving construction design, design reporting, engineering certification, construction and project management and installation on-site. A true multidisciplinary and multi-skilled program with a wide range of stakeholders and projects participants.
The project won the Excellence Award at the 2018 Queensland AILA awards for Civic Design. It also won gold in the same category at the national awards.