Watching people – lost, frustrated and angry – and actually driving around the developing site were essential in creating solutions, according to design firm, BrandCulture.
The graphic design firm recognised that the magnitude of the project presented a nightmare for drivers and pedestrians visiting or working at the complex.
According to Stephen Minning, design director with BrandCulture, a priority in creating the solutions was the need to save precious time.
“Initially we drove around many car parks, mapping points of doubt and comparing them against each other to assimilate the key points that made certain decisions easy and others not so easy,” Minning explained.
“Then we drove around the World Square car park and made basic decisions of how to plan the signage. When out of the car we realised the need to consider two lines of sight as people had to get out and find their way from all areas to the lifts and note where fire exits were located.”
The team at BrandCulture had to consider the needs of the main users – the public visiting for the retail outlets and the staff accessing the Ernst & Young centre.
“The signage needed to stop the public using the office lifts and to direct people (probably running late) to the correct tower, saving precious time,” Minning said.
“We also watched as people walked through certain areas and got agitated when they didn’t find what they expected; it’s surprising how angry people get when they don’t know anyone is around, quite scary in fact.
“Obviously for us, these were key areas to consider, and we found the main problem was that people couldn’t find where to pay for the parking. They did not like having to get back in the lift and head up to the ground floor. Even with signage telling them where to pay they still seemed unable to work it out.”
Minning said part of the solution was to have simple things like standardisation for signage and colour codes.
“After a lot of investigation and challenges we were able to supply Multiplex with a complete set of our design guidelines, which they are now considering rolling out across thirty-five car parks nationwide.
“One of our biggest challenges, was to get the Multiplex Trust to approve the budgets involved to make this project a success. We did some initial concept work pointing out the problems and initial solutions. We believe the success of the project is also due to the vision of the senior development manager Paul Serra, who was bold enough to push for our concept.”
In designing the car park way finding system, BrandCulture included the following guidelines:
• Sequential logic, which is essentially based on creating a memory and recurring recognition in users of certain features of a space.
• Circulation navigation – the car park has over twelve levels including the retail and office exits and loading dock, drivers need to understand not only how to move down (where generally more free car park spaces are) but how to navigate their way around each level if they opt not to simply move downwards.
• Cognitive mapping which is a structured process involving input from one or more users, that produces an interpretable pictorial view (concept map) of their ideas and concept of how a space is.
• Colours were an important feature of the process and design along with an easy recognition signage system with only numbers and letters on column heads.
According to Minning, the expanded use of colour was to create stronger recognition of each individual level to the end user, so that each level ‘owns’ a colour.
“We also developed a sizing and legibility system to make icons and typography work together as well as meeting the need for recognition and readability from a distance.
“The style of arrows used also helps guide the car park users by indicating primary direction with a solid white arrow to lead them, followed by tinted arrows of that level colour.”
According to Minning the key to success was being on site and understanding the space.
“The challenge was to put ourselves in the place of the drivers and pedestrians to test if the system would communicate efficiently.”