Marc & Chantal project manager and wayfinding specialist Selina Mak likens the firm’s wayfinding approach to creating a sense of place.
“Many of the strategies and solutions we’re proposing to clients have really substantial feature walls and elements that become an actual touchpoint of the whole development,” Mak says. “These are design features that really help create a sense of place. ‘I’ll meet you at the fountain’ is the type of navigation experience that we try to create.”
One of the most striking examples of the firm’s practice was Phase 3 of Hong Kong Science Park, part of a complex campus of more than 20 interconnected buildings with multiple entry and exit points. Marc & Chantal was commissioned to create the navigation through the area and to handle the interior design of public spaces. The final result relies not on signage, which could be easily missed or misunderstood, but instead on architectural features.
The key architectural concepts from Simon Kwan & Associates, the architects for Phase 3 of Science Park, were studied and implemented in the wayfinding for a holistic appearance and journey through the buildings.
There are colour-coded accents in high-traffic areas that act in the same way as road markers. En masse they suggest a turn is imminent or a destination is approaching. Well-lit, high-contrast panels draw the eye – and attention – towards important details, such as room numbers, and indicate entry points and exits. Corridors that would otherwise be finished uniformly have textured geometric surfaces that give each a personality.
In its entirety, end-users are offered a comprehensive set of navigational cues that can be followed easily. Architecturally, the finishes and feel stay true to the architect’s vision.
“In this case, the colour-coded faceted walls reassure you that you’re heading in the right direction without using arrows and a lot of signage. It’s this kind of intuitive use of design that truly integrates with the environment,” says Mak.
“It can help an end user because they do not reach their destination flustered. They aren’t looking for an actual sign, because they are reassured by subtle cues that they are heading in the right direction.”
“As place branding, you can be very creative with colour, materials and design, but when it’s part of the environment, it’s much more effective.”