Air Design creates wayfinding for city of Cardiff

Air Design has been asked to create wayfinding, signage and mapping for Cardiff on the strength of a signage project for the city’s St David’s shopping centre which is to be unveiled in October.

According to Jonny Ellison, senior designer at Air Design, Cardiff City Council is looking for a ‘cohesive signage solution’ which will take its cue from the public realm, interior and exterior signage of St David’s shopping centre.

Johnson Banks has created a new identity (pictured below) for the centre, a £675m development by Land Securities and Capital Shopping Centres (The St David’s Partnership), which will grow from 40 000m2 to 90 000m2 when it opens in October.

Appointed in October 2007 following a competitive strategic pitch, Johnson Banks, which is on Land Securities’ retail division roster, developed a brief with The St David’s Partnership to create a dual language identity that would ‘unite the new centre’.

Research showed that the shopping centre is a focal part of the community and a meeting point. ‘We had to think about local issues and pay attention to the legacy of the name,’ says Johnson Banks partner Michael Johnson.

He adds, ‘The idea of people coming together is symbolised through a typographic language of dots.’ An orange colouring was chosen for its vibrancy, usurping the initial choice of ‘Welsh daffodil yellow.’

Informed by Johnson’s work, Air Design created signage in keeping with the new identity, after winning a strategic competitive pitch. This will include a digital touchscreen wayfinding solution in the centre.

Air Design initially created internal and external signage and wayfinding for the shopping centre – integrating the graphic interface, colour ways and application of Johnson’s logotype – before starting work on public realm wayfinding which led to the brief being extended.

Under the extended brief, ‘all street signs will be replaced’, according to Ellison, who says the concept and planning are nearly complete.

Ellison says, ‘We’ve been plotting walking distances in the city and will be making an oriented heads-up mapping system.’ The mapping points will show the section of the city that is walkable from the sign.


  • The new space will accommodate a four-level John Lewis store
  • A new Cardiff Central library, 100 other stores, 3000 parking spaces and 300 apartments will be built into the development
  • The St David’s Partnership is made up of Land Securities and Capital Shopping Centres, in alliance with Cardiff City Council


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