Way ahead

Pamela Buxton finds her way round unusual signage systems inside three landmark UK visitor attractions

When, after years of planning, a multi-million pound visitor attraction finally opens its doors, the sign system is destined to be one of the unsung heroes, leaving the architecture and exhibition content to grab the spotlight. And the more stunning the building, arguably less of an external sign presence is needed.

This is the case with both Daniel Libeskind’s amazing Imperial War Museum of the North and Terry Farrell & Partners’ The Deep in Hull, where it was agreed that no signs should be attached to the buildings. But even if the building can speak for itself as a city landmark, it still needs a strong internal system, perhaps all the more so when the architecture is challenging.

We look at the sign design solutions devised for these two acclaimed buildings and examine the innovative strategy being developed at a third landmark building, Gateshead’s Baltic. It has taken the unusual step of asking artist Julian Opie to create a series of external signs/art works for the venue, due to open in July.

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