Urban Scenography - Scenografia Urbana

wayfinding SYSTEM


Project detail

The pedestrian’s approach  to the information system is very different from the driver’s:

- the reading time for the driver is a few seconds while for the pedestrian is indeterminate.

- The driver has to read while paying attention to the road while the pedestrian can  read safely.

- The view of the driver is oriented in the direction in which it moves and the information must be placed close to the node;  the pedestrian  has a 180/360° vision. The information may be farther from the node as long as it remains in the field view.

- If the driver loses the information due to distraction or speed, it must retrace the journey again or wait for the next signal while the pedestrian can look calmly and with attention.

- The driver needs few and simple information while the pedestrian can access more complex  information: maps, symbols, writing.

For this reason, the design of a pedestrian-oriented system is a  detail project because it can be more complex than road signage,  bound by laws and regulations.


Wayfinding signage: maps

Maps are the optimal solution to organize a walking route because they provide many details and information in a small space, and  they can be reproduced in leaflets, posters or online. The mapping system must be coordinated, that is, starting from the master map it is necessary to extract the maps in various scales and sizes for different purposes. The information and the layout must be always consistent, even if related to the scale of the required reading and its functions. The use of maps generates advantages compared to other types of signage.

1) Maps show more possible routes and destinations than a single direction signal, thus encouraging the way to more distant destinations. For example, maps can show the distance you can walk in 5 minutes on foot around the neighborhood you are in.

2) Maps provide more information, representing the most important buildings with a different color or design.  This helps foreign visitors who are not familiar with the language to better identify  them.

3) Maps allow the visitor to navigate independently in order to fully permeate the urban space without the need for guided tours that would limit the freedom of action. What we need to do is encourage people to walk more and move into a larger space.

4) Maps reduce the use of directional signals, thus lowering the visual clutter in the streets.


Directional signage with progressive revelation

The leading  principle of the wayfinding project- specifically of the direction signage is that of a “progressive revelation” of information (tell people what they need to know when they need to know it). Therefore, the system only reports the most important information with reference to the various nodes defined by the plotted map of the city (in the system of maps and in some of these signs), information on parking and train station.  This limits the clutter of direction signs and helps the development of mental maps because we are constantly reminded of information to integrate with maps, guides, verbal information and perception of the place. At the same time the iterations of posts must be sufficient to communicate necessary data.  Their  placement must be such as to limit the clutter on the roads or on facades, while maintaining effective visibility of the message. Each panel display shows the name of the place in which it is placed with reference to a street, a square or a significant building or a place or a historical context that is part of popular culture. The names have been simplified for better memorization and to have a consistent and coordinated space dimension, just like in the subway system. The wayfinding system is coordinated with the identification system, so as to eliminate as much as possible any elements of conflict and disorder: a consistent look creates a neater environment.





Urban Scenography - Scenografia Urbana - wayfinding system




Maps and signs are made out of foil for outdoor use, printed with special inks and  with additional foils to provide further protection from ultraviolet rays. The frame is in aluminum and so is the panel on which the foil is printed. The material is recyclable and any updates can be easily applied by adding a foil over the previous one.

The project is original and innovative both in structure and use of materials and it is an example of an alternative to the standard practice of using artifacts purchased on catalogues by the local administrative offices.

This solution, in addition to saving money, opens the way to  a different approach to shapes and materials, no longer in terms of uniformity and standards, but bringing the theme of artifacts for the public furniture in the specific context of the historic environment to which they refer, according to a distinction and sustainability criterions.






Urban Scenography - Scenografia Urbana - wayfinding system

Master maps are usually placed at the edges of the Old Town  or near the parking lots. The front side shows the layout of the historical center of the city and the back side shows the entire town with the main access routes and the routes to the closest cities with mileage indications. In the city, the system is supplemented by a series of small, circumscribed  maps regarding the area in which they are located. The lower part of the panel shows a chart map with the exact indication of the point from which we are looking with respect to the overall map. The unique feature is that these maps are oriented in the direction of the beholder, so as to facilitate the wayfinding and development of mental maps. To encourage people to walk or make it easy to plan a route, they include all distances within  5 minutes walk in the worst conditions of the path. Obviously, the higher the degree of difficulty, the lower the enclosed area.  The corresponding number of steps, has also been included, always bearing in mind the idea of ​​communicating the easiest route or the importance of walking in terms of free physical exercise.





Urban Scenography - Scenografia Urbana - wayfinding system

Direction signs are located near the connection nodes and the information generally have a progressive revelation which indicate the closest places to move around in the neighborhood, starting from the nearest to the furthest. Obviously the first is the closest place and it  has been indicated in white. But there are also references to more distant places or buildings of primary interest, or visual reference points within the natural system.  The arrows also meet a hierarchy that visually supports the direction to be taken. There are international symbols and pictographs with reference to car parks, railway station and information points.




Urban Scenography - Scenografia Urbana - wayfinding system

The information must be accessible to the majority of people: children, elderly, disabled persons.  Therefore, the most important or most information will be placed  between a 900 mm and 1850 mm height range. An information  and signs system must take into account the visibility, ie, the properties of an object to stand out from the surrounding environment. The readability is determined by several factors: the font used, its spacing, its color. Obviously the easiest thing would be to enlarge as much as possible the characteristics of the writing, but this should also increase the size of the signs, leading to more space and greater cost, in contrast with the sustainability criterions that are at the basis of the project. We used a high readability font, Clearview, by designer James Montalbano to overcome this issue.  Character reading tests in fact have shown that  it  provides an increase of 29% in recognition of written words,  which has allowed us to maintain good readability and reduced dimensions.




Urban Scenography - Scenografia Urbana - wayfinding system

1) The font used for writing is Clearview, that is specifically used in the American road signs and was designed for readability with particular attention to people with low vision.  Univers Bold Condensed will also be used due to its excellent legibility and reduced dimensions and VistaSans for names and information inside all maps.

2) In the case of direction signs the font size is calculated for a optimal reading distance of  3 meters. At this distance it is possible to focus clearly an area equivalent to about four letters in length.  Keep in mind that with our vision we can see about 12-15 letters for each fixation point.  Since the information is mainly given to pedestrians, reading is necessarily closer than that given to motorists.  Moreover, given the characteristics of Arezzo’s roads, visual space is very limited and the panel remains visible and readable even in small dimensions.

3) The texts are in lower case. Capital letters slow down the overall reading speed because they make the scanning process of the letters slower.

4) The tracking is good with adequate white space between individual letters so it is easy to read.

5) The information is written in white or light colors on a dark background. The dark backgrounds are “curved inwards” whereas the light ones are “bulging”.

6) There are international symbols and pictographs with reference to car parks, railway station and information points.

7) The emblem and the caption of the City of Arezzo’s municipality is reproduced in any element of communication in order to convey authority and prestige.




Urban Scenography - Scenografia Urbana - wayfinding system

Arezzo’s colours in PIERO DELLA FRANCESCA’s and GIOTTO’s paintings

Urban Scenography - Scenografia Urbana - wayfinding system

The banner of the city of Arezzo, the highest expression of identity and representation of the city. Corporate image of the municipality of Arezzo, representation of the mark in  color.

Colour, contrast and clarity

The choice of color has taken into account the identity of place of  the city of Arezzo. The color that best represents the city in both ancient and modern era is red in its color gradations. In both Etruscan and Renaissance paintings, but especially in the banner, the prevailing color is red, the highest expression of identity and representation of the city. A visual identity project must take this into account and communicate it in all media of communication in the city : one only color-shared and recognizable - belonging to the community can only be red or a shade of red (consider that the colours of sport teams match the colours of the city: Arezzo amaranth red, Siena black and white, Rome red and gold, Bologna red and blue etc...).


1) information, rather than other  elements  of urban scenography,  should be clear and visible, because it is in fact in competition with all the other signs: advertising,  shop signs, road signs etc. A contrast between the background and the signal is necessary, as is the case for road signage worldwide.

2) since the communicator is the institution, the administrative power of the city must prevail over the rest in terms of visibility and recognition, hence the need for a coordinated image which refers to the institutional colors: easily recognizable and part of the collective imagery of the city.

3) A city has to communicate do so in an influential  and recognizable way; a coordinated and coherent approach is the key to building a brand image of the town.


The colours have been chosen following certain selection criterions:

- historical colours of the city

- colours which refer to the current city emblem

- contrast colours

- bright lettering on dark background for better legibility

Urban Scenography - Scenografia Urbana - wayfinding system

In matching architectural surfaces tests the most common base color selected is detached from its background and is not to be confused with the façade.  This is crucial in the signage ,because the first step is the identification, i.e. the isolation of the signal from its background.  This applies to all international signs. But the same concept also applies from the point of view of the architectural context: if the information is neutral and evident with respect to the façade, it will distinguish from the object that is interposed. This avoids the ambiguous effect of communicating a product similar to the style of the façade that could be considered as a complement of the facade or even contextualized with it.  Furthermore,  a good contrast is crucial for a good reading and bright lettering on a dark background are perceptually larger than the dark lettering on a light background.  As a result, in order to obtain the same readability one should  increase font size and relative dimensions of the artifact, hence the project choice.


Urban Scenography - Scenografia Urbana - wayfinding system

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