Designing signage at city scale

OMA , France

The Parc des Expositions (PEX) currently under construction in Toulouse, France is a monumental public works project that effectively serves as a new gateway to the city. Larger than many airports, the project is a mini-city consisting of three parallel bands: a multi-function Event Hall; a 45,000 m2, column-free Exhibition Hall; and a parking garage for 3,000 cars. A transformative “machine” that is larger than many airports in its horizontal scale yet subtle in its overall impact, the PEX highly flexible by design so as to accommodate an infinite range of events and activities. For the signage, we collaborated with world-renowned architects, OMA, to develop an equally malleable signage system employing both physical signage and modular LED panels that can be easily configured and reconfigured to highlight branded content while functioning navigationally to guide people. This multipurpose system enhances visitor experience while providing event organizers unparalleled opportunities to arrange the signage and update information (even remotely) in any way they see fit.

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Done through

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Senior Designer

The scale of the PEX can only truly be experienced through a visit to the site. With characteristics and logic of a future city, the infrastructure is lined with a main street, plazas and communal squares that are fitting for both work and entertainment. The commanding spaces are like cities within cities, where exhibitions are transformed into their own districts.  

 

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Copywriter, Strategist

With an infrastructure that is designed to be absorbed by car, plane and foot we found ourselves initially outlining the platforms which users will engage with the space. This enabled us to determine and define each interaction through scale, flow and function, further establishing our graphic approach and choice of signage materials.

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Designer

“Modularity everywhere” was the motto. As the halls can be configured in an array of sizes, we developed monolithic numbers that, like giant pawns, can be moved with a forklift from one place to another. Thoughhighly visual and functional in approach, the signage preserves a natural and inclusive playfulness.

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Senior Designer

It was essential that the signage material was easy to manipulate and could display a constant stream of content both in ‘real-time’ and withstand the daylight environment. Matching our grand ambitions, the solution was an inspired LED double-sided interlocking screen system.

This system informed our approach and provided a solution that was adaptable to various wayfinding; displaying both content or information. 

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Senior Designer

The signage which clicks into place both horizontally and vertically can be assembled in myriad ways to function as a single screen. These screens are updatable from a simple smartphone.

 

 

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Senior Designer

Interesting side note: the origin of the modular signage is highways!

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Creative Director, Partner

One of our objectives was to help OMA preserve the monumental architecture. Aerial “floating signage” became a principle which allowed us to highlight the expansiveness of the buildings. The idea for the floating signage was inspired by the title sequence from the David Fincher film, Panic Room.

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Senior Designer

Maintaining graphic design neutrality and universality is key so as not to compete with the aesthetics of any exhibition.

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Senior Designer

With the signage, we created a dialogue between “permanent vs temporary” information. Invisible within the walls, giant LED surfaces allow the building to fully transform itself into live communication: play a movie in broad daylight, brand a hall, rename the entire space. It allows the user for the spaces to be whatever he or she wants it to be.

 

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Image courtesy of OMA
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Image courtesy of OMA
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Image courtesy of OMA
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