Westfield London seeks wayfinding specialist

The Westfield Group, the company behind London’s forthcoming £1.6bn Westfield shopping mall, is compiling a shortlist of wayfinding consultancies, as details emerge of a disagreement between it and incumbent Portland Design.

‘Westfield can confirm that it has identified a shortlist of potential providers for the wayfinding package at our Westfield London scheme,’ says a Westfield spokeswoman. ‘To date, we have asked for design proposals but have not yet appointed a provider.’

Portland Design director of environments Lewis Allen claims that he is unaware that Westfield is looking for a wayfinding consultancy, ‘although we were never appointed to do the whole signage package, just key pieces’, says Allen.

Portland Design claims that it won a three-way pitch in January 2007 to create elements of the mall’s wayfinding system, including directory panels, interactive kiosks, directional signage and concierge desks (DW 10 January 2007).

However, following three alleged rebriefs by Westfield, Portland ceased work in late summer 2007, although it is still working on wayfinding for the underground car park and the stair and lift elements of the shopping centre.

‘The first brief was to create subtle “invisible” signage using transparent materials. How ever, the brief changed after other factions within [Westfield] said that the wayfinding should be bolder and more artefactbased,’ says Allen.

Allen claims that Portland got to work on a new concept involving large, sculpted rocks, or ‘what look like giant pebbles’, into which screens were set showing a digital version of the directory.

This idea was also scrapped after Westfield decided the directories should include multiple advertising screens.

‘We have left Westfield to it for now,’ says Allen. ‘The creative ambition has gone out of the project, and the level of technology that they now want to introduce is out of step with our wayfinding concept.’

DESIGNERS ON WESTFIELD SHOPPING MALL

Portland Design – creating wayfinding in the underground car park, branding stairs and lift areas

Softroom – designing Westfield’s food quarter, Eat Gallery

Michael Gabellini – creating The Village, an underground mall for luxury brands

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