Mind the gap

Students at London’s Orchard Hill College used an unusual form of wayfinding to navigate their school for the first time yesterday.

Working with Transport for London and its sign suppliers Links, the college has created a unique wayfinding system that mimics that of the London Underground.

Each floor of the college has been assigned the name of a different London Underground line. Classrooms on each floor have names appropriate line, so Earl’s Court on the District Line for example, and are marked with Edward Johnston’s roundel logo.

Orchard Hill College principal Caroline Allen and Sheenal Patel from TFL
Orchard Hill College principal Caroline Allen and Sheenal Patel from TFL

Many of the students at the colleges are teenagers and adults with learning difficulties and are taking courses in becoming independent travellers. It is hoped that the new wayfinding will help the students familiarise themselves with public transport outside of the classroom.

Janette Taylor, lecturer at Orchard Hill College, says, ‘Learners from each class have voted for what Tube station they would like their classroom to be named after. The learners from my class voted for Earl’s Court and have already travelled there using public transport to research information about the station and the local area.’ 

The stairwells have also been given the Tube treatment with ‘keep to the right’ signs identical to the Underground to ease congestion on the stairs. The Lift, toilet and wheelchair signs are also the same as those found on the London Underground.

Orchard Hill College lecturers and student Luke Green celebrate their new Oxford Circus classroom
Orchard Hill College lecturers and student Luke Green celebrate their new Oxford Circus classroom

To celebrate the first day of the new wayfinding system, each class dressed up their classroom inspired by their Tube station.

Taylor says, ‘This is a great way for our students who have a range of learning difficulties and disabilities, to gain more confidence when travelling in the community. The Underground theme that the learners have chosen is meaningful and relevant to them.’

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