Get Lost! The future of wayfinding and identity

Author: Lee Aplin

I was aproached by MADE (Midlands Architecture and Designed Environment) to take part in an all day workshop and evening seminar that focussed on the future of wayfinding and identity. The daytime workshop was organised by Birminghams’s Local Education Partnership as part of an ongoing programme for artists who are working on Building Schools for the Future. The theme of the day session was therefore heavily focussed on wayfinding solutions within schools. It was good to meet the artists and see some of the great work they are doing with schools, from lighting solutions to very impressive stone carving to companies like cantoo who work on developing artworks for the public realm.

The evening seminar was billed as the following:

Discover interesting and innovative future approaches to wayfinding and identity in an evening seminar organised by MADE and Birmingham Local Education Partnership. This event will be of interest to anyone working in architecture, design, graphics, branding, the arts, schools and public buildings.

The evening seminar proved to be well promoted with over 80 people turning up for the 2 hour event.

Colette Jeffrey, a lecturer in graphic communication at Birmingham City University, led a master class in wayfinding during the day, as well as presenting in the evening seminar. Colette definetly knew her stuff and, amongst many other things, researched and co-authored the official guidance on wayfinding for NHS hospitals, as well as working on wayfinding strategies for Wembley Arena, Heathrow Airport and the Natural History Museum.

Jonathan Rez talked about wayfinding design in the context of service design – a holistic approach to visitor experience design and the design of public/private environments. Jonathan talked about the concept of thingfinding, more of which you can read here http://www.rez.com.au/notes/from-wayfinding-to-thingfinding.

MADE asked me to present on the subject of digital media in the built environment and as a tool for wayfinding. I thought this description (that I provided 2 weeks before the event and without too much idea of what I would present) would leave it fairly open for me…

Andy will be talking about the use of digital media in place and space, and how sharing data pertaining to location can be used to enrich user experience. As well as focusing on how this data affects visitors, he’ll also discuss how the visitors themselves are now key to building bigger and better experiences, using digital technology to improve the data and navigate their surroundings.

I talked about four case study projects we are currently working on that use digital media and emerging technologies within the built environment, focussing on how linking data sets between buildings and spaces can start to create seamless user experiences that allow users to navigate from place to place efficiently and explore much richer content.

Trying to look to the future of wayfinding I talked about technologies including Augmented Reality and Near Field Communications and discussed possibilities of how these will be used more within the urban experience.

It was an enjoyable event, and the seminar was followed by some very interesting conversations.