Diadem 6 Te Pae

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Director
    Mark Janetzki
  • Pou Rautaki / Strategic Leads
    Mike Keen, Brett Gosbell, Matthew May
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Members
    Todd Dawson, Sung Chua, Casey Kukolja, Paul Sparks, Brian Anderson, Carly Rogers, Lisa Reichenberg, Zaki Arif, Cassie Brown
  • Client
    Woods Bagot

How do you identify a place, when there was no appetite to put the building’s name or brand on the building? How do you seamlessly guide patrons to an event or exhibition within the building, without them realising they are being led? How do you create a wayfinding and signage system that works on its own merits, but can be overlaid with event identities and marketing material? How do you do all this and create a brand presence in a sophisticated and memorable way?

These were the key challenges that Diadem faced when designing the wayfinding strategy and signage for Te Pae (Christchurch Convention Centre).

The wayfinding strategy uses a simple alpha-numeric nomenclature. However, as is often the case with simple solutions, the process to achieve them isn't necessarily straightforward. We embarked on a rationalisation and distillation process to achieve a simple and intuitive result that can be easily navigated by everyone. Auditoriums are labelled A1, A2, and so on, while Exhibition Halls are denoted as E1, E2, and so forth. Clusters of meeting rooms in between are assigned letters such as B, C, and D, with each room's name starting with the corresponding letter (e.g. Bealey, Conway, Dobson).

We marked the Auditorium and Exhibition Halls with simple and bold signs positioned at a height that allows them to be seen from across a crowded foyer. We organised the information on these signs hierarchically, by de-emphasising the letters and highlighting the numbers, which reflects the specific information people are seeking in that instance – namely the door number.

The visual language of the signage system design takes its cues from Woods Bagot’s interior architecture. The vertical timber wall treatments have been interpreted in a two-dimensional manner, using gloss and matte stripes to achieve a refined and elegant look. We used these stripes to visually de-emphasise the letters while adding subtle interest and establishing hierarchy. We seamlessly integrated the signage forms into the convex and concave scalloped timber structures, which required close coordination among various consultants and builders over a period of five design and construction phases.

The colour palette of the signage is derived from the interior architecture, with black and white graphics aligning with the black matte finishes of the door portals. The neutral colour scheme ensures that the signage doesn't clash with event-specific branding and marketing materials when an event is taking place, allowing the event to be the focus.

Digital screens are seamlessly integrated into the signage design and interior architecture. Their content is used to identify, promote, and guide patrons to their respective events. These screens can be updated with real-time information and divided to display multiple event details simultaneously. After all, people are typically searching for an event rather than a specific room.

Externally, we expressed the striped visual language as ribbing, integrated into the sign forms, which also incorporate digital screens.

Initially, there was a desire for no exterior signage, but the client later changed their stance and requested the design of a landmark placemaking sculptural form that would identify Te Pae, contribute to the civic qualities of the area, and serve as a memorable expression of the brand. This gave us a prime opportunity to reimagine the striped visual language as a three-dimensional form, taking inspiration from Te Pae's brand logo and the patterning of the building façade. We had to give the design of the rear of the form equal consideration to the front, as it is prominently visible when exiting the building. We needed to take into account factors such as climb-ability, transportation, and installation during the design process. The brand itself is internally illuminated, and the colour can be adjusted to correspond to the events taking place within Te Pae.