All change as hospital drops universal signage

The new 1600-room Birmingham Children’s Hospital reopened yesterday with a signage system developed by Assorted Images. – The new system is a consequence of the hospital gaining independent status as a trust, and no longer having to adhere to the National

The new 1600-room Birmingham Children’s Hospital reopened yesterday with a signage system developed by Assorted Images.

The new system is a consequence of the hospital gaining independent status as a trust, and no longer having to adhere to the National Health Service’s universal signposting system.

This change in status will affect other hospitals similarly, says Assorted Images communications director Kasper de Graaf. “There is fantastic scope [for environmental graphics], as signage is the voice of the building,” he adds.

The London consultancy created several signage categories, from over-the-door aluminium signs to circular projecting signs.

“We created a system similar to that of a department store which people find familiar and reassuring,” says de Graaf. The circular plates on the doors are at “child-friendly” height, he adds.

Japanese children’s book illustrator Satoshi Kitamura was brought in to come up with picture icons for the hospital’s main services, such as refreshment areas, toilets, disabled and baby changing facilities (pictured).

The system is flexible enough to cope with the city’s eight principal languages, he adds. The consultancy designed eight booklets which translate the signage.

A custom-designed typeface was developed by Assorted Images senior designer Donat Raetzo, and the group also updated the hospital’s identity. It is now working on print material.

The 30m hospital has been revamped by architect Powell Moya Partnership (DW 11 July 1997).

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