Identity for new university building inspired by roof structure

Thomas Matthews has branded the University of Exeter’s new building The Forum, with an identity pattern extrapolated from the roof structure.


The consultancy was brought on board by The Forum’s architect Wilkinson Eyre in May 2011.

A timber grid on the building’s roof inspired the identity, which was created by programming an isometric grid through an algorithm. Thomas Matthews worked with independent research engineer Gennaro Senatore on this modeling.

Building interior, with roof structure
Building interior, with roof structure

Natural forms of local flora and ‘shadow play’ from tree canopies were also fed into the algorithm

This pattern then influenced a development of the Humanist-inspired font, which is used campus-wide to form the word Forum. It has been applied with a palette of colours which Thomas Matthews says complements colours found within the architecture: ‘vivid blue, green to purple, grounded by a deep black copper.’

Forum typeface

Thomas Matthews founding director Sophie Thomas says, ‘The design concept cenrted around capturing the play of light and shadow as it entered the building through the grid-shell roof structure.

‘The collaboration with Gennaro allowed us to re-interpret the natural landscape that surrounds the campus into a new graphic form that reflects the structure of the architecture.’

Forum icons

The building comprises a Student Services centre, Exploration Labs, multi-touch digital tables for collaborative learning, a 400-seat auditorium, study spaces, a bank and coffee shops.

Using the triangular pattern, these areas have been delineated in different colours and applied to large surface areas.


On signage a solid version of the font indicates what floor a visitor is on and a linear version indicates the floors above and below.

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  • D-studio November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    This is brilliant – the way the language of the architecture has been interpreted in the graphic language and typography is complementary and overal exceptional.

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