CPB Contractors engaged Urbanite to undertake the signage, wayfinding and graphics for the new Northern Beaches Hospital – an $840 Million, 488-bed public and private hospital. Designed by BVN architects, Urbanite’s scope included every aspect of signage for the hospital interiors, external precinct and separate multi-level car park, consisting of over 6,000 signs and 300 wall graphics across the eight levels.
The challenges included but weren’t limited to: the need to delineate between public and private areas; create a consistent and clear design language across interiors, precinct and car park areas that spoke to multiple user-types such as staff, patients, visitors and students across a complex building with over 30 departments; and materiality considerations to ensure for easy and hygienic maintenance and cleaning.
A key objective of the system was to quickly and efficiently get patients and visitors to their destinations with minimal confusion or anxiety. Additionally, we needed to discreetly delineate the private and public parts of the hospital without blatantly labelling each area.
A key project objective was to create memorable and describable journeys, rather than an over reliance on signage. These graphics were intended to calm patients and activate interest in certain long corridors and areas such as department check-ins.
Nestled between the Northern Beaches coastline and dense bush, connecting the hospital to its unique location was also paramount. Rather than appearing as an afterthought, integration of the signage with the architectural design intent and surrounding natural landscape was also key.
Over 300 graphics are located throughout the space at key decision and destination points, with the feature graphic in the central atrium space spanning six levels in the central void.
Taking inspiration from the unique location of the hospital, we visited the site surrounds, ranging from dense bushland to sandy beaches. The team sourced unique items from each and formed the themes based on their findings to delineate the private and public areas on the hospital. The sourced items were then photographed and used to create stunning environmental grahphics.
This took the form of the blue and green colourways, where the large-scale placemaking graphics help to intuitively indicate levels of the hospital, i.e., the blue shell floor.
While patient and visitor signage took on these colours, staff and back-of-house signage is a charcoal colour. This helps patients find their destinations as all signage that is not relevant to them being a more neutral colour.
Over 300 graphics are located throughout the space at key decision and destination points, with the feature graphic in the central atrium space spanning six levels in the central void. Working with a local photographer and an adjacent Northern Beaches primary school photography competition, we created two atrium super graphics, which act as the main orientation points in the atrium space.
Signage throughout the external precinct and multi-story carpark drew upon the same design language, using consistent fonts, details and scale, but we used differing wayfinding strategies to address the unique challenges for each of these spaces’ functions. For example, the car park uses a level colour strategy uniquely developed to ensure colour blind users are not affected by colour which may look similar.
Nestled between the Northern Beaches coastline and dense bush, connecting the hospital to its unique location was also paramount.
The combination of differing scales of environmental graphics unique to the Northern Beaches along with the coloured sign-forms result in a unique and place-sensitive scheme that truly celebrate the location and character of the hospital’s area. The involvement of the community through the collaboration with local photographers and public schools has resulted in a hospital that is already ingrained in the fabric of the community in a space they helped to design. The vast scale of the project and the multiple areas the wayfinding system is applied and the method it is intrinsically linked ensures that this scheme is more than just a successful wayfinding system, it is a celebration of the project and the Northern Beaches.