Work in Progress: Northern Stage

We are back at Northern Stage to report on the completion of the first phase of their new wayfinding scheme.

Northern Stage is the largest producing theatre company in the North East of England and over the past 40 years has built a reputation for fresh and relevant productions of modern classics that attract audiences of all ages. The building was formerly the Newcastle Playhouse and was redeveloped in 2006 with a new frontage that includes a full-length glass wall. Facing onto Newcastle University’s student building, the theatre is crowned by local artist Cath Campbell’s thrilling installation, Escapology.

Last year architects Mosedale Gillatt reworked Stage 3, the third of Northern Stage’s three performance spaces. The architectural work created a contemporary flexible theatre space for audiences and performers alike and gave new access to the building’s social and exhibition spaces and toilet facilities.

In response to the work, the team at the theatre identified that a new approach was needed to help people to find their way around the building’s redeveloped interior, at which point Picto were invited to get involved.

It was an opportunity to give proper consideration to how the building is used and take into account how the public’s use of the space changes from daytime to nighttime. Working with the theatre team, it was decided that a bright, bold approach would sit well with the building’s quirky 1970s architecture and the Northern Stage brand.

Our response was based on the demands of the theatre’s audience and the spaces available for use across its three floors. We took our standard, ‘less is more’ approach, positioning information only where needed and keeping content to a minimum for clarity and maximum effect.

We applied simple pictograms, used wraparound sign panels on the open staircases and used both Braille and raised tactile figures and graphics for partially sighted visitors and visitors with specific sight issues.

Top: clear directions using the space constraints within the building; left: wraparound directional signage; right: donor recognition

Above: High quality glass fronted poster display cases incorporating a secret catch so no keys are required when changing the posters. Some have integral brochure holders.

To meet the client’s deadline, we completed the project in record time, from briefing to completion in just under three weeks. Stage one of the project is now complete and installed, with clear signage to the upper mezzanine floor, the foyer with its bar and restaurant, the box office and Stage 1 and Stage 2. The newly redeveloped Stage 3 and Play Space are clearly indicated in the theatre’s basement, together with signs throughout the building for the accessible toilets and baby changing facilities. A follow-on phase is scheduled for early 2017.


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