Wayfinding: Before Signage

Wayfinding: Before Signage

Pedestrian distribution patterns are influenced by visibility and connectivity conditions.

Traditional traffic engineering practice describes pedestrian movements in a very similar way to vehicle trips, where users should move through a network of links and nodes, opting for the shortest travel distances and lowest journey costs. For pedestrian movements, this is not merely true, as the configuration of space plays a crucial role in determining people’s route choice. By understanding, for example, how visible and well connected is any given room in a building or a square in a neighbourhood, it is possible to predict path choice tendencies and, in turn, expected traffic volumes.

Spatial analysis of this kind has been extensively used in the recent years and in different contexts, from retail destinations like Galerie Lafayette in Paris, to cultural institutions like Jameel Art Centre in Dubai, to transit hub-cum-shopping centres such as Kotelniki and Salaryevo in Moscow. The role of spatial analysis is even more crucial in wayfinding projects, where visibility and routes choice is decisive. The MyTown shopping mall, currently under construction in Kuala Lumpur, is a good example of how Systematica, appointed both for wayfinding planning and design, has based the entire strategy on a robust analytical work of building configuration.

At an early Concept Design stage, the wayfinding system was used as a tool to leverage some of the building’s spatial potentials while ensuring seamless navigation in areas that are less visible and accessible. In the Detail Design phase, spatial analysis was used to identify the exact location and content of each sign: directional signs are located on the main decision making points on main routes, information and utilities signs in the most visible areas, while mall directories in places where users have a clear perception of space. This scientific approach allowed to identify the minimum number of signs required to provide a user friendly, efficient and effective wayfinding system, with the great advantage of reducing construction costs and visual pollution.