The V&A Waterfront is South Africa’s most popular visitor attraction, with more than 25 million people visiting every year. The Watershed, designed by Wolff Architects, is located within the Waterfront and comprises of four main components: The Craft and Design Market, Wellness Center, Jubilee Exhibition Hall, and Workshop17, a co-working space. Wolff Architects, in collaboration with K&i, were appointed to develop the V&A Watershed signage and wayfinding system.
The brief was to establish a system that defines the hierarchy between the Watershed and the four activities within, to enhance visitor experience, improve orientation, highlight location of facilities, and to ensure a coherent visual language. The wayfinding, signage strategy and design needed to be incorporated into the architecture of the building. The layout of the building features a ‘market street’ running through the middle of the building, with suspended floors above, and featuring glass panel walls. The design needed to provide a visually cohesive and eye-catching language, working with existing colour schemes of the Watershed identity of yellow, white, grey and navy.
We developed a visual language using supergraphics applied to glass panels and market ‘streets’ to define the different areas, a wayfinding map to orientate visitors (strategically placed at decision-making points), and a facility wayfinding system using oversized street pole signs. Line of sight and viewing distances were of utmost importance in the busy ‘market’ environment.
A critical aspect of the wayfinding system was to improve the knowledge of facility locations. Considerations were taken into account for the toilets being located on level 1 and natural foot traffic through the building being on ground floor. Knowing that many visitors to the V&A Waterfront are international and not all English speaking, we specifically designed the facility signs using symbols instead of written words. In accordance with the Watershed tagline of ‘Forever Inspiring’, K&i introduced quirky and fun detailing to the iconography, particularly noticeable in the male and female large toilet signs with Afro hairstyles and textured patterns. A comprehensive manual was developed to document the signage and wayfinding system in its entirety, and provide rules and guiding principles in the design and construction of new signs.