We recently came across an interesting use of our Aktiv Grotesk typeface at Massey University in New Zealand on their new College of Creative Arts, Wellington Campus building – Te Ara Hihiko. Nick Kapica of SV Associates was responsible for designing the building’s wayshowing using Aktiv Grotesk. He was kind enough to give us some more information about the building itself and how the font is used within it.
(images courtesy of Nick Kapica)
“The wayshowing for Te Ara Hihiko, the new creative arts building at Massey University, relies on the placement of typography within the built environment to not only communicate the required building information but also in doing so engage the viewer in visually understanding the space.
“The building has been designed by Athfield Architects and is centrally situated within the Wellington campus of Massey University. Built into a rapidly sloping section of land, entry points are possible on three different levels. Throughout the campus the University has used letters to denote building levels and these levels remain consistent throughout the entire campus… Many visitors to the campus are initially confused by the unusual lettering system, so in Te Ara Hihiko a feature has been made out of the five letters, A, B, C, D and E thus introducing new visitors to this concept quickly as they enter the building. Although the building has a name (Te Ara Hihiko) it is officially Block 12, all other building on the campus are denoted with a block number. Large typography, 12, on the exterior façade introduces the typographic language that continues within the building.
“New Zealand has two official languages, te reo Maori and English, and this has been acknowledged in the completely bilingual, non hierarchical wayshowing. The only capital letters used are those denoting the five levels, all other typography is lowercase.
“All typography has been set in Aktiv Grotesk. The large characters; A, B, C, D, E and 12, are set in bold and have 1800 mm cap height, all other typography is in regular. Directional information has a cap height of 30 mm, location and door names has a cap height of 60 mm and door numbers a cap height of 20 mm. The building name breaks out of this system and has been applied to the façade on both sides of the building at the entrance on level B and C in sizes most appropriate for the location.
“This system aims to educate and inform the visitor about the physical nature of the building rather than simply guide them from signpost to signpost.”