Case Study: Brandon Primary School

Picto were invited to work with the project team led by Red Box Design Group and Sir Robert McAlpine to develop sign packages, comprising wayfinding, information and manifestations, for two new primary schools in County Durham.  The £7.2m Brandon and £6.4m Esh Winning new builds are part of the County’s Primary Capital Program.  This case study focuses on the project at Brandon.

Brandon is a small village south west of Durham City, with a population of circa 2900 and strong roots in agriculture and coal mining.  The new school was to replace an existing Victorian building, located next door to the original site and providing education for 390 four to eleven year olds in the district. The single storey structure has been designed to provide a minimal carbon footprint combining passive measures, such as siting to maximise natural daylight, with the latest technology – biomass, solar thermal, earth tubes, solar PV – to minimise consumption.

Along with Esh Winning, Brandon Primary School is the first school in the Country to be awarded a BREEAM rating of Outstanding.

The layout of the internal space is very simple therefore requiring a minimal amount of wayfinding. This provided the opportunity to do something very nice with the small number of signs that were needed and three dimensional letters were selected.  The letters direct to classrooms and community rooms and define the hall, dining room and nursery.

Image: Three dimensional letters are 100mm high x 18mm thick sprayed MDF, spaced off the wall by 18mm.

The typeface used throughout the scheme is Lucida Grande, selected for its simple sans serif design. Graphics are generally white reversed out of solid colour backgrounds.  Door signs are tactile and Braille graphics on a teal background.  The use of tactile and Braille signs is not a legal requirement in the UK, but the School were keen to adopt this system to help educate their fully sighted pupils as well as assist those with differing levels of partial vision.  Classroom signs incorporate the facility for teachers names printed onto card inserts, simple and cost effective for the School to maintain.

As a consequence of the high quantity of natural daylight achieved in the building design applied vinyl manifestations were required to all the full length glazed panels to meet with building regulations (refer to Glass Manifestation: Possibilities & Opportunities, posted December 2011).  Over 60 linear meters was needed around the perimeter of the School and 80 linear metres within the corridors and internal courtyard spaces.  From the outset we suggested that this could be used as an opportunity to do something special, rather than simply opt for the standard dots or squares and a number of options using different types of applied vinyl and designs were put forward for consideration.

Externally a pattern of etched vinyl horizontal striping was adopted, following the aluminium transoms used between the glazed panels, incorporating the Brandon Primary School crest and where appropriate defining entrances with lettering.  Internally, the Schools’ preference was for something which would tie in with the teaching ethos of sustainability.  We developed artwork based on leaves, which matured in their design through the age groups, starting with a very simple design for the youngest pupils and increasing in complexity for the older ones.  The leaves are reversed out of etched privacy screens applied to classrooms and appear as solid shapes between corridors and external teaching and play spaces (see top image).  The nursery features a handprint design in etched vinyl with random hands in translucent red.

Image: Etched vinyl manifestation is used as a 1.2m high privacy screen along the facade of each of the twelve classrooms all of which are fully glazed. The leaf design runs horizontally along the top of the screen. The shape of the leaves become increasingly sophisticated as pupils progress through the different age groups. Door signs are located on the glass, next to door handles and fitted to the DDA recommended height.

In line with Picto’s desire to provide a unique piece of environmental graphics for each primary school signing project that we are involved with, the school motto “Progressing Developing Achieving” was incorporated as a 3D supergraphic at the heart of the building next to the main hall.  The growing trees are representative of the Schools’ respect for the environment and are based on an initial design by one of the pupils.

Head Teacher Anne Charlton comments:

I am delighted with the quality of the signage provided for the school. The process was made less daunting as I felt our needs were listened to and acted upon. The support and advice I was given was also appreciated. The ideas for the manifestations and the school motto would not have occurred to me, but they are a talking point for everyone who visits the school – they look fantastic.

Images: External signs are power coated aluminium with applied vinyl graphics and protective lacquer finish. Simple and robust with concealed fixings. Pillar box red matches the pupils uniforms. Manifestation onto glazed entrances incorporates horizontal stripes with the School crest.


1 Comment
  • Labelfreek

    Reply October 28th, 2012 8:42 am

    These look fantastic – the manifestation idea is so simple but it looks great. Really like the door sign applied to glass. I hadn’t seen that before.

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