2019 Sydney Design Awards

spaces, objects, visual, graphic, digital & experience design, design champion, best studio & best start-up, plus over 40 specialist categories

accelerate transformation, celebrate courage, growing demand for design

Sargood on Collaroy – Elegant wayfinding that facilitates healing

Image Credit : Photographer – Tyrone Branigan





Project Overview

Designed by WMK Architecture, Sargood on Collaroy is Australia’s first health and wellness resort providing purpose-built, wheelchair accessible accommodation for people with permanent damage to their spinal cord. Around 15,000 Australians live with a spinal cord injury, and many injuries occur in extreme athletes and adventurers with incredible courage.

Sargood Foundation relies heavily on the support of generous individuals to fund life-changing recreational programs, from scuba diving courses to the ReWalk program, which equips guests with a robotic exoskeleton so they can go for a walk. With 17 rooms and suites, a state-of-the-art gym and recreation room, and sweeping views overlooking Collaroy Beach, BrandCulture was engaged to design wayfinding and placemaking elements that enhance Sargood’s function as a place for healing while echoing its beachfront location.

Project Commissioner

Sandrick Project Directions

Project Creator

BrandCulture Communications


Design Lead: Nick Bannikoff
Designer: Sara Tononi
Architects: WMK Architecture
Project management: Sandrick Project Directions
Client: Sargood Foundation
Builders: Novati
Signage fabrication: 2SIGNIFY
Donor Wall manufacture and installation: Wizardry
Photo credit: Tyrone Branigan

Project Brief

Sargood Foundation opened Sargood on Collaroy to meet demand for a purpose-built health and wellness resort for people living with a spinal cord injury. It provides a completely accessible holiday for individuals – and their carers and families – so they can live life to the fullest.

BrandCulture’s brief was to enhance Sargood on Collaroy’s beauty and function as a place for physical and emotional healing through wayfinding design. It was important to the client that the wayfinding support the centre’s goal of providing its guests with a "pathway to independence".

Our scope included interior, exterior and regulatory signage and a donor wall commemorating Sargood Foundation’s generous supporters.

Project  Innovation/Need

Conceptually, our designs reflect the centre’s belief that nothing is impossible for a person with a spinal cord injury. We stumbled upon this beautiful quote from poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “Lives of great people remind us, we can make our lives sublime and, departing, leave behind us [treads] on the sands of time.”

Our signage features parallel lines resembling the tracks of wheelchairs in sand, symbolizing the idea that we all leave behind unique, indelible signs of ourselves. All signage and placemaking elements are designed to optimize the resort’s accessibility and help create a place in which to build a new life.

Inspired by the colours of Collaroy beach at dusk, our signage designs and placemaking features use glowing, earthy colours that bring the beachscape inside and create a warm, welcoming resort atmosphere.

For the donor wall, we created an art piece that compliments the architectural palette and looks nothing like the plain and functional donor walls often found in hospitals.

Design Challenge

The design of healthcare facilities can positively – or negatively – influence moods and emotions. The biggest challenge at Sargood on Collaroy was to design wayfinding, pictograms and placemaking elements that help create a destination that feels nothing like a sterile rehab centre but is a place of healing in which to build strength, independence and confidence.

It’s a project that challenged our own preconceptions because the resort is designed specifically around wheelchair heights and sightlines, which meant our signage had to be uniquely positioned to cater to this need.

We realised that amenity pictograms typically depict people from head to toe. To better represent Sargood’s guests, we designed bespoke pictograms that incorporate the treads of a wheelchair and enhance inclusion.

It was vital our donor wall didn’t resemble the kind you might find in a hospital. We set out to create an art piece that compliments the architectural palette. We took inspiration from Sargood’s distinctive pine tree-shaped identity to create an artwork that will evolve over time. Larger pine cone scales represent Sargood’s most generous donors.

Sargood on Collaroy has helped build the confidence of over 270 guests from across Australia and New Zealand, and as far away as Canada and Norway. Sargood on Collaroy has served as the official training camp for Great Britain’s wheelchair rugby team, and has welcomed some of Australia’s most celebrated Paralympians.

To date, 98% of guests have reported the experience had a positive impact on their life.



This award celebrates creative and innovative design in the ways people orient themselves in physical space, and navigate from place to place. Consideration given to signage and other graphic communication, clues in the building's spatial grammar, logical space planning, audible communication, tactile elements and provision for special-needs users.
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