Responses by Robin Howie, founder and creative director, Fieldwork Facility.
Background: We designed the pedestrian wayfinding for Brent Cross Town. Billed as a “park town for future London,” Brent Cross Town is a multibillion-pound development with the aim of becoming the place in London to participate in sport and play. A joint partnership between property developer and investment agency Argent Related with the Barnet London Borough Council, the development will create 6,700 homes and workplaces for 25,000, and it will be set around 50 acres of green parks and playing fields. The wayfinding system allows residents and visitors to find their way to the development from the local tube station.
Design thinking: The wayfinding is designed as a response and activation of one of the development’s pledges. Brent Cross Town aims to be an unrivaled multisport destination. Our goal with the wayfinding was to capture the spirit of play and bring a little bit of joy to the neighborhood. We wanted to do more than merely direct people to Brent Cross Town; we wanted to put a playful smile on people’s faces and encourage someone to walk with more spring in their step.
Challenges: Designing this was a fairly straightforward process! I’d say the most challenging aspect would be a toss-up between the many rounds of internal development we underwent to take this from initial sketches to our production drawings. Securing planning permission went smoothly, though we did have to reallocate some signs along the route. Weirdly, some lampposts are just off-limits, but others are OK to use!
Favorite details: I love the signs’ 3-D qualities, how they all wrap around a lamppost. I especially love the loop-the-loop and the other shapes that double back on themselves. They were just a joy to design and so rewarding to see them made exactly how we’d imagined. For me, these capture the spirit of play along the route.
Specific project demands: The wayfinding is the first part of a more comprehensive Fieldwork Facility project. We have been looking after the experience of a ten-minute walk from the Brent Cross tube station to the new development. Our wider project includes this wayfinding system as well as curating and commissioning public art, design interventions, a parade of shops, a corner shop branding project, and general hygiene improvements along the route as well. Independently, all of these elements are absolutely wonderful, and how they will all come together has been the real challenge. N.B., the rest of the project will go live in stages over the coming months.
New lessons: With the wayfinding in particular but especially in the broader project I just mentioned, I found myself looking at lampposts in way too much detail. It’s amazing how a place accrues a legacy of lampposts both in service and no longer in use. One post seemed to have the sole job of holding up a fishing line, which was a bit of a mystery to me until the client informed me that it must be part of Britain’s first eruv. An eruv is defined in religious law as an area where observant Jews are exempt from some Sabbath prohibitions, like those against carrying keys or pushing strollers or wheelchairs. I love cities and discovering more about them.