Caruso St John Architects

1996–1999
Location: London, UK
Client: London Borough of Southwark
Project Status: Built

The project forms part of a number of initiatives commissioned by the London Borough of Southwark to improve the quality of the public spaces and enhance accessibility in an area of London undergoing rapid regeneration. To assist the increasing number of visitors and new populations that were coming into the area, directional signage was required along a network of prescribed routes as well as information about areas of special interest and current events.

The routes and destinations within the signage system are characterised by a wide range of spatial conditions, from the congested to the abandoned, from Dickensian domestic to post-war commercial. The new system does not attempt to stamp a uniform signage identity on the area, which the architects considered inappropriate and implausible within the rich and varied context of Bankside. Instead, a range of types of sign of different sizes and different media were employed to achieve a resonance with the material and spatial variety of the area. Working always with a consistent typography, directional information was located beneath new vitreous enamel street name signs, within recessed manhole covers for statutory services, and on cast aluminium fingerpost signs. Other signs included brass historic plaques, community notice-boards in brass and mirrored steel, large signs attached to buildings and walls that give the name of the quarter. The design draws on the history and rich potential of signs to form an integral part of the ambience of the public realm.