Place identity and architectural signage – the best from the UK


I have recently been looking at the different ways in which buildings identify themselves. It’s often a struggle between architect and designer. Architects have a very clear vision for their building and signage on the facade often takes a back seat. Here I have collated some images I came across during research for a project.  I presented some of these to a recent client to show how signage doesn’t have to be a separate entity, but can work with the building to create a feature within the facade.

Projecting Signage
Cardiff University Main Building – 125th celebration
The University’s 125th anniversary celebrations launched with a spectacular illumination of the Main Building and messages of support for 125 years of achievement at Cardiff University. Projecting messages is a great way of creating a temporary signage solution on a historic or sensitive building.

Cardiff University
Image credit: Adrian Williams

New with the Old
Hackney Empire, London
Hackney Empire retains the original structure built in 1901, but 100 years later the Empire closed for a £17 million refurbishment project designed by Tim Ronalds Architects, and reopened in 2004. This is a good example of how old and new signage on the same building can work together. By creating signage made from the same material as the building and placing it on the opposite side to the original entrance, the new signage creates a focal point for the building without effecting the original features and entrance to the Empire.

Hackney Empire
Image credit: Ewan Munro

Image credit: Julian Mason

Poetic Signage
Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay
Inscribed on the front of the dome, above the main entrance, are two poetic lines, written by Welsh poet Gwyneth Lewis. The Welsh version is Creu Gwir fel gwydr o ffwrnais awen, which means “Creating truth like glass from the furnace of inspiration”. The English is In These Stones Horizons Sing. The lettering is formed by windows in the upstairs bar areas and are internally illuminated at night, creating a spectacular glow from the building.


Image credit: Mark Hopkins

Image credit: Chris Thompson

Rearrangable Signage
Guardian News & Media in Kings Place, London
The new Guardian News and Media office uses almost a sculptural approach to their signage. The installation is elegant and clean, but at the same time is playful with its splashes of colour. It is also versatile and has the ability to change position, arrangement or even location.


Image credit: Kevin Anderson

Image credit: Julia C

Sculptural Signage
Channel 4 Building, London
The giant number 4 outside the Channel 4 building is forever transforming. Every so often you wander by and notice a significant change. My favourite examples is a giant number 4 made from discarded umbrellas by artist Stephanie Imbeau, winner Channel 4’s BIG4 public art competition in March 4, 2009. The interesting thing about these cleverly constructed sculptures is that they only appear as the number 4 from a certain viewpoint!


Image credit: hoxtonboy

Image credit: Ged Carroll

Image credit: Alan Connor

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3 Responses to Place identity and architectural signage – the best from the UK

  1. I just love the Channel 4 Building sign/sculpture concept. It just keeps the public coming back for more and more! What will they do next? Awesome!

    The Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay is Stunning! Thanks for the post!

  2. Pingback: 2010 in review | Wayfinding_UK's Blog

  3. signwriter says:

    This article is amazing. It’s crazy how the design of signs can change a place, a city. How it can create a certain atmosphere. The kind of signs in this article are impressive. Thanks for sharing these creative works.

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