PAM Series #4: Ingredients of Wayfinding

Wayfinding is a carefully developed practice that rests on a few guiding principles. To future proof and develop a smart campus, it is essential to recognise and use this logic to your advantage.

In our team’s experience – there are four pivotal parts of this process.

1. Language

You can’t design the future of your space without recognising its history. Assessing how these areas are discussed allows you to create a campus to leave legacy systems behind.

For example, if building 10 level B has always been “10.B” change over to “B-10” will likely confuse and create distinctive gaps between the existing and future systems. To create spaces genuinely designed for the user using their language, rather than creating one for them, is the only way.

2. Building principles

Creating wayfinding in built spaces means recognising how your design fits into an existing environment. While buildings come in all shapes and sizes, there are a few guiding principles that can inform your creation. Most multi-floor buildings either wind their way around the lifts and stairs or place these access points as an exoskeleton on the edge of the space.

University visitors have some experience with these principles which guides them to interact with the space without much thought. Whichever logic applies to your campus, understanding them will allow you to align with their wayfinding behaviours.

3. Traffic flow

These building principles guide the traffic flow of your university visitors, but they can’t tell you when and where people will be at any given time. Will there be more people at certain times, and if yes – what are their goals when they’re entering busy spaces? At this point interacting with the space yourself and speaking with visitors can transform big data into useable information.

4. Design vs Use

People are unpredictable, but if you find patterns in their interaction with the space, you can make the wayfinding within it work for them. Getting your hands on space management data is the best way to understand how the space is being used – regardless of how it was designed.

Designing the perfect wayfinding system with these four principles is no small feat, and it’s just the beginning of a more extensive process. Proper auditing, implementation and management all play their part in creating a smart campus and PAM is ready to support every step.

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