2015 Sydney Design Awards

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

accelerate transformation, celebrate courage
growing demand for design

UTS Wayfinding and Signage (Frost*collective & BrandCulture)


Project Overview

Urbanite and BrandCulture collaborated on the major overhaul and redesign of the wayfinding and signage systems for the city campus of The University of Technology, Sydney.

Over the last few years UTS has been a key contributor to the transformation of the southern gateway to the city’s CBD, with major developments to reinvent the campus and also the critical access point to Sydney’s CBD. As a campus sitting amongst commercial, retail, hospitality and residential spaces, UTS identified a key objective; critical to the success of the UTS Masterplan, was the need to address the fragmented nature of the campus itself. Leading the strategic planning, Urbanite, (part of Frost*collective) uncovered key insights through in-depth research and stake holder workshops, which formed the basis of the new wayfinding strategy covering nomenclature hierarchy, sign hierarchy and placement strategy, graphic layout for the signage and a pictogram family to ensure consistency of messages. After the development of strategy, design response and the brand manual, Urbanite partnered with BrandCulture to identify strategic opportunities to improve the user experience while delivering the prototype, production and installation phases.

Project Commissioner

University of Technology, Sydney

Project Creator

Frost*collective & BrandCulture


Frost*collective & Urbanite Team
Executive Creative Director: Vince Frost
Head of Environments: Carlo Giannasca
Design Director: Bridget Atkinson
Senior Designer: Charley Bromley
Designer: Katie Bevin
Wayfinding Strategy: Joanna Mackenzie

BrandCulture Team
Managing and Creative Director: Stephen Minning
Design Manager: Nicholas Bannikoff
Senior Designer: Jeremy Tombs
Technology Designer: Steven Plummer
Technology Consultant: Meld Strategies

Project Brief

Due to the move of the Kuringai campus to the city and increased student intake, there was pressure on the exiting facilities available to staff and students. As a result, UTS invested in a major redevelopment of their city campus, which saw the addition of four new landmark buildings in addition to the existing fifteen city properties in an already densely populated city landscape. The new architectural additions to UTS have already helped redefine the perception of UTS in the public’s eye. However, essential to the success was the need for a comprehensive wayfinding strategy and signage system that would cohesively integrate with the existing UTS buildings and the surrounding urban environment. The brief provided to Urbanite was to create public space branding, a building and room identification system, navigation signage, statutory signage, regulatory signs, information displays, and a comprehensive wayfinding signage manual. BrandCulture was then engaged to carry out the production and roll out phases of the project, which In turn led to the development of an integrated digital wayfinding solution.

Project  Innovation/Need

Following a highly competitive tender, Urbanite was engaged as they were known for their design excellence and strategic focus to execute methodological and precise audits, concept and documentation stages. An important aspect of the UTS transformation was a desire for a wayfinding and signage system that would tie together the entire campus and the surrounding cityscape. Designing around the concept of verticality, Urbanite created a design to complement the form of the vertical campus spaces and the visual aspect of shadow and light common within city landscapes. The move saw the foundation of the new system, backed by a strong information hierarchy with multiple levels for macro and micro signage across the outdoor and indoor landscapes. Further to physical form, BrandCulture developed a proprietary online signage planning and management system called Physical Asset Manager (PAM). PAM allowed all project stakeholders to collaborate live on problems and solutions. By linking a live wayfinding platform to PAM it ensured that the database of destinations is always current. Next, BrandCulture created a mobile-phone optimised website was built, allowing users to find destinations whenever and wherever they were with technology already in hand, greatly improving the student experience.

Design Challenge

A core challenge was the restructure of information across all of UTS’s buildings, the integration of a strict information hierarchy and the future proofing of the new information system. After an extensive review, BrandCulture recommended a move away from using proprietary systems to a custom design using interchangeable magnetic parts was made, freeing UTS from being locked into a single supplier. This decision allowed for a modular design, which complements the essential rigid information hierarchy. Alongside this modular aspect, research was required to specify a paint system to accommodate the changing of signage components for full interchangeability across the system. As part of a campus-wide smart signage strategy identified by BrandCulture the project’s feature element – 4.5m high faceted totems – were required to be engineered to include a host of campus-connective technologies. The physical form design developed by Urbanite utilised the space within the totems for housing specialist parts sourced from as far as Europe to accommodate live data feeds, external grade screens, CCTV, help points, WIFI access and a NFC/ QR code directing access to the live wayfinding site for a cost effective digital wayfinding solution.


The use of an online planning and approvals system drastically reduced the paperwork associated with multiple issues of large schedules, giving the ability to collaborate remotely and limit the numbers of meetings and travel required. Built from a central pre-approved database of messages, the content of signage is always consistent, reducing the incidence of typo’s and associated replacements. This same feature also allows instant identification of all instances of a message when destinations move, directly addressing the prevalence of legacy messages across campus. Finally, the adoption of a magnetic slat system and standardised sizing allows the replacement and relocation of destinations to be achieved without the replacement of entire signs. Staff movement is achieved by simply swapping the sign on the door.

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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