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Case study: ABG Design sign the way for The Exhange (University of Birmingham)

View of wayfinding signage in university hallway

Client: University of Birmingham

Sector: Schools, colleges and universities

Location: Birmingham (UK)

Role: ABG Design were commissioned by the University of Birmingham as signage consultants to design a
new signage and wayfinding scheme for their new building, The Exchange.

Located in Centenary Square in the heart of Birmingham, The Exchange will use the University’s research, teaching and local, national, and international networks to create a place of curiosity, celebration, collaboration, and change.

The scope of work included working with the project architect and the university facilities and marketing department to design all internal and external signage and messaging hierarchy.

The Brief: To create a signage and wayfinding strategy, signage design, and information hierarchy that complimented and enhanced the true historical beauty of this Grade II listed building that was originally founded as the Birmingham Municipal Bank.

The design of the signage needed to embrace the colour palettes of The Exchange and the University of Birmingham brands in a modern and contemporary way without detracting from the historical nature of the building.

Outcome: As the building was grade II listed there were a number of challenges such as not being able to fix to the fabric of the building in some areas. It was also necessary to ensure the wayfinding was suitable for dual usage as the building is used by the university and the general public as there are exhibition spaces in the vaults and a large café restaurant in the main banking hall.

We are really pleased with the outcome of this project. The signage has a modern contemporary look and feel to contrast with the historic materials and colour palette of the building. We overcame the challenges with a detailed specification and design; the totem signs were weighted at the base and signs sloped at an 80-degree angle so they are offset from the wall. We also introduced a palette of colours so each floor has a distinctive colour to aid navigation and compliment this wonderful historic building.

Howard Miles, ABG Design Managing Director said: “We are really pleased with the outcome of this project. It’s a real pleasure to work with a building as wonderful as this and more to the point the University of Birmingham has given a key historical building back to the people of Birmingham showcasing public spaces such as the Vaults, Banking Hall, and historic exhibition spaces.”

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