Portland Design overhauls signs at NEC

London consultancy Portland Design has begun work on an identity and signage system for the National Exhibition Centre, as part of a £40m overhaul of the Birmingham venue.

In a three-year project, the consultancy will develop a wayfinding and signage strategy for the entire estate, taking in 200 000m2 of venue space, car parks, visitor access routes and other public spaces.

‘We need to develop a strategic hierarchy of communication which takes into account all possible visitor journeys,’ says Portland managing director Ibrahim Ibrahim. ‘We are also taking the existing identity and using it to create a language that will express the NEC’s character.’

Portland Design was appointed to the work after a four-way credentials pitch in February. It has been briefed to create a ‘character, environment and identity’ that will establish the NEC as a ‘unique’ location, differentiated from rival venues.

In addition to wayfinding and signage, the consultancy’s remit includes the environmental design of the Piazza interiors and the North Garden. The environmental aspects will be led by Portland Design creative head Lloyd Blakey, while head of graphics Steve Burden will develop the graphic designs.

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